Summary List Placement
As the CEO and chairman of Deloitte Consulting, Dan Helfrich has spent a lot of time speaking with clients about their concerns during the pandemic.
Right now, some of their biggest challenges include the uncertain nature of COVID-19 and staying connected with their fully remote workforces, he told Insider in a recent interview.
Helfrich has worked at the “Big Four” firm for more than 20 years serving in various leadership positions including strategy and information leader and civilian government sector lead. He oversees more than 50,000 employees in Deloitte’s global consulting practice, which includes consultants in North America and India.
Helfrich told Insider that he sees a lot of management practices today that aren’t working anymore — like giving information and data access to only a limited group of people. He shared four of the biggest changes that need to be made in corporate America right now to accelerate innovation.
Following old IT practices
Business leaders are relying on cloud and artificial intelligence technology more than ever before. The coronavirus pandemic further prompted corporations and small businesses to adopt technologies to stay afloat.
Leaders should avoid having the mindset of “this is how we succeeded before,” Helfrich explained. Instead of using an implementation of a prior IT system as a roadmap for the next one, companies should incorporate agile methods, or tools to help their teams be faster, more adaptive, and more customer-focused.
Helfrich said an example of an organization that successfully adopted new digital tools is Chipotle. In partnership with Deloitte, Chipotle developed invested in its online customer experience by adding a new mobile ordering strategy. The fast casual chain made several tweaks to its digital transformation plan to fit new trends over the years, including the boom of food delivery apps.
“This investment in digital has allowed it to more quickly respond to the rapid increase in online and mobile orders throughout the pandemic — and build relationships with customers that are responsive to their needs,” Helfrich wrote.
Believing that big companies can’t be disruptive
There is this misconception that disruption only comes from small, new companies and that big enterprises are unable to pivot at the same pace, Helfrich said.
But big companies may actually have an advantage, he said.
“They’ll have huge advantages if they put themselves to work in research and development capacities, envision multiple scenarios, and pursue merger and acquisition strategies to further their ambitions,” Helfrich said.
Helfrich recommended that business leaders reflect on how they can challenge themselves to think differently. This means seeking out other organizations that they should be learning from and creating a diverse team. They should also consider partnering with startups, nonprofits, or even competitors to accelerate innovation, he added.
Thinking that a lack of diversity is an HR problem
It’s important for companies to have a diverse representation of employees.
The best organizations recognize that equity and inclusion are not just about race and gender, he said. Instead, it’s about a much broader set of factors, including personality types, education levels, age groups, and even business skillsets.
“Let’s say if I had 100 conversations with CEOs and senior executives in the last six months, about 95 of them would have included a real conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Helfrich said.
Leaders should determine if their teams are like cliques that groupthink or if they actively seek new ideas. It’s important to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable speaking up. This is key to inclusion.
Companies that want to boost DEI should consider adding a mentorship program, he added.
“Creating meaningful and impactful relationships isn’t just about matching names on a spreadsheet,” Helfrich explained. “It’s about ensuring that your people, including your teammates from underrepresented communities, get support daily in an effective way.”
It’s also important for companies to be vocal about these issues that impact women and people of color. He suggested leaders issue policies that address the talent gap for underrepresented groups, create formal volunteer opportunities with nonprofits, and make long-term commitments to combat systemic racism.
Neglecting to share information with employees
Not every employee gets the same access to data and information at their company. Sometimes, leaders don’t share information that is deemed too complicated or complex, Helfrich said.
“I often find that people are really hesitant to share their data more broadly, but pushing leaders to be more transparent actually democratizes the organization and unlocks innovation,” Helfrich said.
This practice creates information privilege. This means that the people who have access to exclusive data may use it to advance their own agendas. That works against companies’ plans to be more inclusive at work, the CEO added.
“I may be the CEO of Deloitte Consulting, but I am a leader in training,” Helfrich said. “I’m picking up new things everyday and applying them in thoughtful ways. We encourage other leaders to adopt that mindset and carry themselves that way.”