Life at Deloitte
Creating differentiated value
Fireside chat with Diana O'Brien and Jeff Suttle
At Deloitte University, leaders of all kinds come together, learn, and influence one another for far-reaching client and global community impact. An interview with Diana O’Brien, chief marketing officer, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Jeff Suttle, DU Leadership Center for Clients lead, Deloitte Services, explores why DU is a hotbed for idea generation and breakthrough thinking.
What is the significance of idea generation and problem-solving at Deloitte and DU?
Diana: At Deloitte, we generate ideas and solve problems that make a meaningful impact on our clients, our people, and society. DU is the physical space where we bring our best thought leaders together, foster conversations, build capabilities, and create learnings that can be repeated within and outside the walls of our organization. This is how we move beyond simply having insight into marketplace issues and find ways to bring differentiated value to our own people, the clients we serve, and the communities where we live and work.
Jeff: In my view, DU is the perfect non-sales mode way for leaders of all kinds to interact with Deloitte people. Just being on the property takes you out of normal business circles. So it opens Deloitte people up to being business people and leaders first, and does the same thing for clients. Clients walk away saying ‘wow, I didn’t realize Deloitte had such great thinkers or was so focused on leadership—I really want to talk to them.’ Often, my number one goal in creating a Greenhouse experience is to have clients walk away knowing that we lead in the way we think, speak, and act.
What is remarkable about the idea generation process at Deloitte?
Diana: The most remarkable thing about DU is the connections that are created there. From the way the physical space is designed to the culture that we foster, everything about DU encourages networking and relationship-building. Our collaborative learning environment enables professionals to practice problem-solving skills and gives them more confidence to apply these skills to real-life situations. Finally, we are also testing new and innovative strategies such as gamification and the Wicked Problem approach.
Jeff: We are continuous learners in that area. We’ll try almost anything and lean in where we’ve had good traction. It’s not just about programs, but a mindset: We’re up for any challenge and for new ways to solve challenges, and we’re teaching our people to have that mindset. Will Deloitte have a problem solving methodology? I think the answer is ‘no’ because through DU we incubate new ways to do it all the time.”
In what ways does the DU problem-solving value have an impact outside of the organization?
Diana: In one example, we held an innovation competition for global entrepreneurial companies in education. This sparked a conversation about a national problem: how to help students excel in our education system. If we are able to bring a unique perspective and have an impact, it’s because we’ve done the research, entered the dialogue, and have many leaders influencing the marketplace to produce results.
Jeff: We’ve done wonderful work with not-for-profit executives, and with the Executive Leadership Council—a national, high-profile leadership development organization for African American leaders. These organizations hear about what we’re doing and want to be here because they recognize not just our ability to help them, but our reputation for growing people who are smart and passionate and want to make a bigger impact.
When it comes to making ideas prosper at DU, what’s next?
Diana: Just like in other areas of our business, we need to always evolve. We need to continue keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive from the point when an idea is generated all the way through to its realization and ultimately its impact. Bringing more of our broad and deep thought leadership capabilities more often and earlier will create more ideas that prosper and make a difference.
Our relentless focus on innovation to keep pace with change makes DU a rich breeding ground for breakthrough thinking. We continue to inspire business, social, and community solutions that lead to positive change and progress—turning new opportunities into advantages for our clients and people. Designed to be a place where ideas not only thrive, but lead to business prosperity, DU is a place where the spirit of innovation is woven into our fabric, for game-changing impact to our practitioners, our clients, and our global community.