Hacking ourselves to solve problems for our clients – how innovation works at Deloitte

Earlier this year, Deloitte was hacked – but in a very good way! The biggest hackathon in our history took place with 300 people forming 63 teams in 10 offices across Australia and including our teams in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Papua New Guinea.

Hack-the-Dot (taking its inspiration from our affectionate name for ourselves – the Green Dot!) brings people from across the business together to generate new ideas, question the norm, and rethink how we deliver value to our clients.

Entries were submitted against five categories: Cognitive & Artificial Intelligence, Data, Wellness, Social Impact and Open.

The experience was a tangible and fun demonstration of our passion, skills and our commitment to how we’re going to deliver on the goals of the firm.

Why is innovation important to us?

Innovation is part of our DNA and we foster it for three main reasons:

Our brand – being innovative helps us win business with our clients and attract and retain the best talent

Our culture – we work to provide the tools and training, capabilities and insights that lead to a healthy innovative culture. One that adopts and supports change.

Commercial outcomes – it’s not all about beanbags and free pizza! The reason for being in business is to stay in business. And if we’re not innovating then we are not profitable – leaving us unable to contribute to the Australian economy and do all the other things we like to do: work with purpose, have a social impact and support communities.

Our approach to Innovation is focused on:

  • What we offer – new products and services
  • How we deliver – new ways of delivering
  • How we go to market – new business models

Each business unit within Deloitte is focused on its initiatives with our central Innovation team serving as a catalyst and enabler; driving collaboration and accelerating innovation across the Business through coordination, education and knowledge-sharing.

Ideas are good, delivering on them is better

Innovation is the creation of a new and viable business offering. Or simply stated: ‘ideas delivered’. With the delivery part key. It’s not about ideas – they are plentiful and important – but until they are realised, they are not worth anything. Innovation requires the continual exchange of value between an organisation and its customers.

That’s why for Hack-the-Dot, the follow up coaching that supports bringing the winning ideas to fruition is so important. Each of our winning teams received $10,000 worth of funding to bring their idea to life, and the support of our innovation team to help navigate the path forward.

Building an innovation culture.

Innovation doesn’t support our business – it is our business. We don’t have a separate innovation strategy because our corporate strategy is an innovation strategy. Culture is the bedrock of the transformation process that is core to our strategy, and can’t happen without it.

We’re more than a decade into our innovation and transformation journey. We’ve done this in phases. From being the ‘sick puppy’ of the big four in Australia where it was a case of ‘innovate or die’. During this phase we focused on awareness, culture and tools.

We then moved to cultivate, first of all the ‘right to innovate’ – changing the mindset of the organisation to allow innovation, and then on to the ‘responsibility to innovate’ where innovation was considered an essential part of business activity, and creating new business and offerings was a key responsibility of every single team.

Now we’re into our third phase – the integration of business and innovation.  Our focus is on commercialising our ideas, ensuring they have real impact on our business, our people and our clients.

Being recognised for innovation

Our innovation commitment has been recognised in a few ways. Moving up the ranks of the AFR Most Innovative Companies list from #30 to #18 was a highlight in 2016. Probably more important to me has been the market survey that we did in 2016, which showed that innovation was one of the top words our clients associated with us. Another indication of our success has been our recruitment. Our new talent knows us for being innovative, and they can see that it’s not just a statement – we live it, it’s clear in all their interactions with us. We are the top destination for STEM graduates in Australia.

How does something like Hack-the-Dot help us with innovation?

One of the greatest challenges innovators face within an organisation, is ‘corporate anti-bodies’ that resist change. A thriving culture of innovation across the organisation, led passionately and visibly from our executive, goes a long way to making it easier to get things off the ground and manage the change process across the business.

For me, as well as being a great occasion, Hack-the-Dot is a critical part of our journey to become the most innovative professional services firm out there. As a technology geek and lover of all things digital, it’s also great fun. This year we had our usual robot guests, and welcomed our new VIP – IBM Watson. And not forgetting the beers, the pizza and the yoga!

5% of our firm gave up their Friday night and much of Saturday to be with us to spend time innovating. I was blown away by the standard of the ideas too – the 10 eventual winners could have easily been 20. This is an amazing result for our culture, and a good state for the organisation to be in. What’s absolutely key for us now is doing something with that energy by supporting those teams to deliver on their ideas.

Special thanks to all the participants, champions and the innovation team who made this a reality. What does your organisation do to foster innovation internally? I’m always interested to know.

Read more about previous Hack-the-Dot events.

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