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Deloitte Ventures

The art of effecting positive change – Phil Shaw

What the world needs now is creative thinking, breakthrough ideas, and innovation. That’s one reason why Deloitte UK launched Deloitte Ventures and has brought on board people like Cultural Architect & Innovation Specialist Phil Shaw. He is one of the team working in the Tax Ventures Experience Design Studio and taking a human-centered approach to tackling new and complex challenges. “On a recent project, we looked at how strategy aligns with a company’s culture,” says Phil. “The goal being to help organizations design strategies that are built around their culture, and that people understand their company’s strategies, and experience it in a positive way.”

If you’re thinking this doesn’t sound like a typical tax job and Phil doesn’t sound like a typical tax person, you’re right. Phil’s background is performance, anthropology, and research. A few years ago, he was working as a freelance researcher with Market Gravity (acquired by Deloitte UK in 2017), a proposition design consultancy that helps companies fuse customer insight, commercial rigor, and design experience to create and launch innovative products and services. “I was brought in for a short-term project, that became a long term-contract,” says Phil. When a colleague contacted him about working in the Tax Ventures Experience Design Studio, Phil said yes. “If you had told me five years ago that I would be working in Tax at Deloitte, I would not have believed you. But here I am, working to effect change in the way organizations and teams work, service clients and communities, and bring products to market, and I’m very excited to be doing this work.”

Phil Shaw – Cultural Architect & Innovation Specialist

Phil Shaw

Phil’s approach to working with teams to effect meaningful change is always customer- and colleague-centric. “My first step in finding a solution to any business problem is to look at it from the perspective of what it means to be human,” says Phil. In the interviews, workshops, and showcases he facilitates, Phil works with people to identify challenges they are facing in any aspect of their work—team dynamics, service-delivery, embracing differences, innovation, for example. Themes emerge and teams determine how to manage those themes. That can include finding solutions to improve people’s work experiences, how teams function, how professionals interact with and motivate clients, or how they design a product to positively impact the experiences of a customer group.

Equipping people to experiment, explore, and learn from each other in workshops and then innovate in the day-to-day work is an immersive, intensive process. It also requires more than a fair amount of innovation on Phil’s part and that of the Experience Design Studio. For one workshop group, innovating meant taking on a modern art project.

The workshop group set up an interactive art showcase in Deloitte UK’s One New Street Square Building and invited the entire Tax & Legal practice in London to come and see art they had created. People in the showcase also invited guests and walked them through the exhibition. That allowed people to take credit for their work and answer questions.

How did people respond to the project? “In both the workshop and gallery show, people said, ‘this is so un-Deloitte,’” says Phil. Looking at and talking about the art, people were engaged and excited about creativity, doing something they’d not done before, being more than who they are at the office, and recognizing the value in that. People who attended asked, what’s coming next; I want to be part of it. For Phil, perhaps one of the most powerful outcomes of the show was that unprompted people stepped up and said to him, “I’m an artist, a dancer. I want to bring creativity into my work.”

“At the gallery show, I met so many people who are creative and willing to do things differently,” says Phil, “I saw a new and vast spectrum of ability, and Deloitte is very good at giving people the space, if they are willing, to step forward and put out what they have to offer, their unique value, their abilities. People listen. That happens for me on a daily basis.”

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