23 posts categorized "Public Sector"

November 17, 2011

The shock of the old

The Bush House Telegraph
News and views from the Deloitte Center for Strategic Leadership, Bush House, London

Forget innovation and originality, in the work of the consultant the old leadership lessons matter most.

Getting Unstuck imageA colleague recently complained to me that we don’t do anything new at Deloitte, just “re-visit old truths.”

“Would you prefer it if we re-visited old lies?” I replied—in an authoritative, yet avuncular way.

“Hmmm…” she murmured and returned, flat-footed, to her desk.

Had she been in the mood—and had I more time—I’d probably have treated her to a few “old truths” about consultants. But her loss, dear reader, is your gain.

The fact is we seldom trade in new things. Scientists offer discoveries and breakthroughs; consultants, generally, experience and insight.

In my field, leadership, a subject anatomized for thousands of years—think of the Tao Te Ching and The Republic—there’s little we can come up with that hasn’t been thought of before. Our job is not to re-invent the wheel but to add new value to those old truths—and help clients apply the lessons of leadership in ways that will benefit their organizations. We’re about practical solutions for old problems—transformations, possibly; revolutions, no.

Why do old problems keep recurring? Why can’t leadership lessons just be learned once?

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October 18, 2011

Deep diving for innovation

Bzi_col_glb_ve_1036_low[1]You work for the government and you have to build from scratch a dashboard that measures innovation in your agency. Never mind that your government probably hasn’t even developed a comprehensive system of innovation. Oh, did we mention that you have less than a day to do it?

Welcome to the 2011 Victoria Public Service (VPS) DeepDiveTM innovation workshop. Here, innovators from the Victoria Public Service (VPS)—and earlier in the week the Australian federal government--gathered to design systems that gauge whether their innovation efforts were delivering results. And with that one-day timeframe, it wasn’t going to be easy.

That’s where Deloitte’s DeepDiveTM comes in. An approach for rapid brainstorming and problem solving, DeepDiveTM has been used hundreds of times by Deloitte to help companies, governments, and nonprofits innovate. DeepDiveTM enables teams to create breakthrough solutions in a dramatically shorter time than conventional problem-solving approaches.

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September 23, 2011

The shuttle may be grounded, but NASA's relevance lives on

Skyexpress_rocketOn Thursday 21 July the space shuttle Atlantis safely landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida—and so ended a 30-year window into the wonders of space for thousands of technophiles throughout the world.

But with NASA’s whole-hearted embrace of social media, the journey may not be over by a long shot. Yes, the future of U.S. manned space missions remains uncertain. But for those who follow NASA on Twitter—and have been lucky enough to be a part of NASA’s recent in-person “tweetups”—the agency’s use of social media presents a whole new way to access the inner world of space exploration—and create a new generation of space enthusiasts.

NASA currently administers over 100 Twitter accounts.  Last year, it updated its iPhone application with new connections to social media sites and access to more than 125,000 photos from its image collection.  And by a wide margin, NASA placed first in a recent study that ranked 100 public sector organizations in the effectiveness of their websites, digital outreach, social media use, and mobile sites.

But what could possibly be the significance of an astronaut tweeting from outer space (except that it’s really cool)? It all comes down to access.

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April 12, 2011

Why WEP matters: The UN Women’s Empowerment Principles – one year later

Blog_pellegrino_WEPIt is a universal maxim that there is strength in numbers. While it’s great when one company commits to investing in women—it’s even better when that number is 170. That’s how many CEOs have now signed the United Nation’s Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP). And as evidenced by the UN’s one-year commemoration of the launch of WEP last month, that number seems likely to grow.

This event, where I participated as a panelist, took the importance of WEP to a new level. More than 150 executives attended the conference, from such well-known companies as Banco de Brasil, Calvert Asset Management, and Novo Nordisk. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, himself opened the meeting—and there were nearly as many men as women in attendance.

All of this underscored a palpable sense of urgency that seemed to pervade the conference. An urgency that the time to invest in women is now. Not in a year or two when the economy recovers. Not when the dust settles after various laws and regulations take effect, but now. If you want to grow your economy or business and stay competitive, you need to start taking the role of women in organizations and in leadership roles more seriously—and focus on intentional change.

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March 07, 2011

Not business as usual: Realities for professional women

Woman checking postings on windowIn the past year I have co-authored two reports on women—Paths to power: Advancing women in government and The Gender Dividend: Making the business case for investing in women—and participated in many events, including a symposium at the Harvard Kennedy School, discussing how investing in women can help organizations and countries reap a gender dividend. Yet even with all the attention this issue is attracting, it still seems that change is slow in coming.

Statistics bear out that there is awareness of the potential that women represent. There is movement to change the rules around equal pay, equal access, and equal opportunity as well as a resetting of norms to acknowledge the importance of women’s advancement and economic access.  In many cases, these concepts are validated through legislation and policy.  

But the results are not yet there, the change is not entirely embraced, and the “systems” are not acting in concert with the rules. Working women are still limited by a lack of support networks and mentors as well as near -impossible demands in terms of work-life balance. Yes, there are organizations that value women and choosing to work at one might be the single most important decision a woman can make to ensure her career has longevity and advancement.

But if you are waiting for an organization to drive the new behaviors that will allow it to reap the gender dividend, you may miss important windows of opportunity. So what can you do right now? You can build a personal business case for yourself.

The business case concept put forth in The Gender Dividend was built to argue for an organization’s targeted investment in women. But if we morph the concept ever so slightly, it can also be applied directly to an individual. We are at a moment in history when both top-down and grass-roots approaches can coexist and you, the individual change agent, can serve as a powerful element in the current state of play.  Enough individuals taking action can and will have a significant impact.

As you mentally consider your business case, there are two realities to keep in mind:

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February 02, 2011

Cloud computing in government explodes

Ethernet_cablesGovernments struggle with technology. Be it the procurement of hardware, vendor selection, or storage capacity, all of these things can present grim bureaucratic hurdles for public administrators.

This is changing. Today, anyone with an Amazon account can instantly access nearly unlimited computing power on Amazon's Web Services platform in a matter of minutes. No contract is needed. With a few clicks—the procurement process is as simple as buying a book—anyone can rent virtually unlimited computing capacity and storage. Popular services such as Gmail and Flickr operate on the same principle: Information is stored on the Web, where it is accessible from any machine, anytime. Similar cloud services are available from IBM, Google and others.

This is cloud computing, a technology with the potential to dramatically overhaul IT in the public sector.

It's hard to recall a recent technological development that has generated more hype than cloud computing. Why all the excitement? Simple. Cloud computing offers governments a clear and compelling value proposition: All the technological firepower you need without any of the headaches of ownership and maintenance.

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January 21, 2011

The Gender Dividend – Transforming business through the leadership of women

Woman_pointing_at_symbolsAs we begin the second decade of the 21st Century, businesses need to make the most of their resources, especially those with a proven track record in boosting performance. That makes now the time for many more women to take on greater leadership roles, especially in the c-suite and boardroom.

As an accountant for the past 38 years, I have long believed that numbers tell a story. For many years, I have seen a steady stream of research whose numbers confirm the impressive contributions made by the relatively few women at the highest levels of leadership in business today. So it only makes sense that more women serving in these roles will lead to greater business performance and economic growth.

Catalyst, a nonprofit research and advisory organization focused primarily on the advancement of women, invited me to serve on its board a few years ago. I have long been acquainted with Catalyst’s research. Its research findings consistently confirm that those organizations with the most women as senior leaders enjoy rates of return that are greater—often by double-digits—than those with far fewer or no women in their leadership ranks.

That’s what the Gender Dividend is all about. Much like the dividends that public corporations pay to shareholders, the Gender Dividend is a steady benefit that is earned by making wise, balanced investments in developing women as workers and potential leaders, as well as understanding women as consumers and their impact on the economy and the bottom line. Done right, the Gender Dividend should be reflected in increased sales, expanded markets, and recruitment and retention of a key market segment—women.

It is not wishful thinking. As research has consistently proven, the Gender Dividend is a demonstrable fact. But when culture and custom conspire to keep businesses from achieving the greatest returns, investors should take note and vote with their feet. I believe that enlightened investors in search of the greatest returns will vote for those businesses that not only value diversity, but are smart enough to capitalize on it.

Beyond returns in the marketplace for talent and customers, the Gender Dividend can show a payback in the boardroom. As the chairman of Deloitte’s board, I speak often about the ABCs of corporate governance—attitude, behavior, and candor. When present and positive, they help create a boardroom environment that can set ideas into motion and enable people and organizations to move forward productively. Yet it is another element that follows the ABCs—the letter “D” for diverse people and diversity of thought—that enables businesses to enjoy strong governance and develop the best strategic decisions. The diversity of thought provided by women can bring different attitudes and behaviors to the boardroom, as well as fresh candor that can be inspired by a variety of perspectives. Diversity in the boardroom is powerful, and it works.

At the height of the recent recession, Catalyst produced a short video to address the business challenges of a desperate economy. Its voiceover concluded by telling executives that there is an “overlooked yet effective solution to help you make your numbers—and she may be seated right next to you.” I hope that documented research and an open mind will help people understand that such thinking makes perfectly good sense.

Economic growth is one of the quickest ways to unleash transformational change – and with more growth comes more possibilities. In two weeks, the World Economic Forum will convene once again with its mission to improve the state of the world. In the spirit of Davos, let me challenge you, your business, and your nation to intentionally invest in women as business leaders. The women that your investments will enable—as well as the greater returns from the Gender Dividend that it will create—can transform your business, spur your nation’s economy, and improve the state of our world.


Sharon Allen is Chairman of the Board for Deloitte LLP where she leads the board in providing oversight and guidance to the management of the U.S. Firm and its subsidiaries. Frequently honored for her contributions to business and community leadership, Sharon was named to Forbes’ list of “The 100 Most Powerful Women in the World” for four consecutive years.

As used in this post, “Deloitte” means Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Please see About Deloitte for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries.

January 20, 2011

The U.S. deficit - A moment of truth

PiggybankExcessive deficits are an issue that has spread across the globe, and that will be a common topic at the World Economic Forum next week as well. Several G20 countries have had their debt already exceed 100% of their GDP—and we are already reading of the public and political issues that have occurred as a result. And in the United States, the problem is acute.

Some months ago, I had the good fortune of being appointed as one of the 18 members of the Bipartisan Policy Center Debt Reduction Task Force—referred to in the media as the Domenici/Rivlin Commission. This was one of two major deficit-related studies which were reported out late in 2010, the other being Simpson/Bowles.

Even with the 37 years I have spent in public policy and public administration while at Deloitte LLP, it was an extraordinarily eye-opening and, in some cases, troubling experience. Why? Because the U.S. deficit and cumulative debt have been rising at a level that is simply unsustainable. Based on our analysis, our U.S. debt will approach 100% of U.S. GDP by the end of this decade. And interest alone on that debt will likely exceed $1 trillion a year! Perhaps more disconcerting, we found that U.S. revenue will only be adequate to cover current Medicare obligations, current Social Security obligations, and interest in 2025.

Clearly action is required and there is not much time to waste. Why should this matter to corporate America? If Federal borrowing has to continue to rise, we will ultimately see the cost of borrowing increase as well, and with rising interest rates likely rising inflation. Addressing this issue over time will be important to both confidence in the dollar and the surety with which U.S. corporate leaders can make longer-term capital commitments.

The Commission considered several alternatives and ultimately proposed some specific recommendations. Of note, our task group reached unanimity on the recommendations. Also of note, were our plan fully implemented, savings to the Federal government would approach $29 trillion over the next 20 years. You may be interested in reviewing the final report, which is attached. And, again, this is obviously also a big global issue. For more insights on the global implications of the rising debt, please see the Deloitte Research report Red ink rising.

You certainly may ask what would lead me to believe that Congress would be inclined to do anything, even with a well-thought out plan in hand. That’s a very good question. One could certainly look at the 2010 election results and key platform positions of the winners to gain some confidence. It certainly is clear that most of the new members of Congress were elected in part based on their commitment to get Federal spending under control.

Regardless of one’s confidence—or lack thereof—we will soon have some hard evidence. The first real test is likely going to be when the current legislated Federal debt ceiling is reached this spring. That ceiling can only be raised by Congressional action, otherwise certain areas of the Federal government will shut down. It will be very interesting to see what program cuts and policy changes are negotiated in exchange for a commitment to support raising the debt ceiling.

It will be a fascinating issue to follow this spring!


Bob Campbell, Deloitte LLP U.S. State Government Leader, has, throughout his 36-year career with the Deloitte U.S. firm, worked closely with government leaders to address and resolve critical policy, financing, and operational issues at all levels of government. He has worked extensively with leaders of major federal agencies and more than 40 states on projects touching nearly every area of government concern.

January 13, 2011

How women can help you beat the competition

Dttl_woman walkingAre you looking for your next growth area? What are your plans to beat your competition? Come to think of it, what business exactly are you in? If your answer to any of these questions isn’t talent, then you are running the risk of being left behind. Why? Because growth and competitive advantage will come from innovation and creativity in the 21st century.

As John Hagel III, co-founder of the Deloitte U.S. Center for the Edge, says, “companies must truly become talent-driven firms.” Yet most today are underutilizing, and often downright ignoring, half of their talent pool—their women. Or, put another way, investing in women—both as workers and as consumers—is one of the best levers for creating competitive advantage.

Let’s take women as workers—talented workers—first. Today’s economic realities—from the shrinking taxable workforce in many countries to the importance of critical-thinking, analytical, and decision-making skills in the digital economy—underlie why talent is becoming the most valuable resource for nations and businesses alike. And women not only make up roughly half of the workforce in most of the world, but they are graduating college at higher rates than men in many countries. The World Economic Forum’s 2010 Global Gender Gap Index shows that the educational attainment gap has almost disappeared. But that is not translating into women being retained, developed, and advanced in the workforce. In fact, those numbers are dismal. There has been no change in the percentage of women in senior management among the Fortune 500® for almost a decade1. In Europe, where women make up more than half of college graduates and 45 percent of the workforce, they are a measly 11 percent of corporate executives2. These numbers mean that the pipeline to the top either leaks women—or that they are getting stuck.

Either way, it’s not good for the bottom line. Churn has a steep price: a conservative estimate of the cost of turnover for knowledge workers ranges is 200 percent of salary. But that may not be the biggest cost to your business. Evidence is mounting that gender diversity (and diversity in general) at the top delivers better business results.  Today, Fortune 500® companies in the top quartile when it comes to women’s representation on their boards outperform those in the lowest quartile by at least 53 percent on return on equity3.  And in Europe, of 89 publicly traded companies with a market capitalization of over 150 million pounds, those with more women in senior management and board members had, on average, more than a 10 percent higher return on equity than those companies with the least percentage of women in leadership4.  Women bring their experiences, perspectives, and approaches to decision making, making it more robust.

But that’s not all—because the other half of creating competitive advantage is to understand the power of women as consumers. Women are not a niche group—they are the market. Already, women control roughly US$20 trillion of total consumer spending globally, and that number is predicted to rise to US$28 trillion by 20145.  And women either make or influence up to 80 percent of buying decisions, on everything from appliances to cars and medical services6.  This is not a consumer segment that businesses can afford to ignore—and those with more women in management are in a stronger position to understand and market to this population.

The bottom line—and that is what this is all about—is that there is a Gender Dividend to be reaped by any company or country  that invests in women. But that doesn’t mean businesses are doing all they can to take advantage of it. For many, promoting women is still a “soft” issue—not a business imperative. They have not figured out the cold, hard fact that not capitalizing on women as workers and consumers is holding their businesses back. Which means that if you build your business case for the Gender Dividend, it just might help you beat the competition.

(This column is adapted from our new study The Gender Dividend: Making the business case for investing in women.


Anne Weisberg is a Director of Talent, Deloitte Services LP, in the U.S. member firm and co-author of Mass Career Customization: Aligning the Workplace with Today’s Nontraditional Workforce.

1 - “2005 Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors of the Fortune 500 Shows 10-Year Trend of Slow Progress and Persistent Challenges,” Catalyst press release, 29 March 2006.

2 - “More women in senior positions: Key to economic stability and growth,” European Commission, January 2010

3 - Lois Joy, Ph.D., Director, Research, and Nancy M. Carter, Ph.D., Vice President, Research, at Catalyst Inc.; Harvey M. Wagner, Ph.D., and Sriram Narayanan, Ph.D., The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women’s Representation on Corporate Boards (Catalyst, 2007)

4 - McKinsey, Women Matter

5 - Michael J. Silverstein and Kate Sayre, The Female Economy, Harvard Business Review, Sept. 2009, see also Sylvia Ann Hewlett, “Why Women are the Biggest Emerging Market,” Harvard Business Online (March 8, 2010)

6 - See e.g., The Economist, A Guide to Womenomics (April 12, 2006); Sandra Lawson and Douglas Gilman, The Power of the Purse: Global Equality and Middle Class Spending, (Goldman Sachs Global Research Institute, 2009)

July 07, 2010

Fiscal crisis? Let the games begin

This post was co-written with John O’Leary

Dtt_gamecontrollers_200x200 Games and simulations can be important tools as governments around the globe grapple with the grim reality of their fiscal situation.

The great debate in government today is how to achieve balance in the wake of rising debt and budget deficits. On one side are the deficit hawks arguing strenuously for deep and immediate cutbacks in government spending. On the other is a collection of interest groups who stand to lose from such budget cuts. The result in many cities, states and even national governments is a political standoff that extends from politicians way down to the voters who put them in office.

One way to break through the impasse is to first seek agreement around what’s driving the fiscal gap. Working together to identify all the possible alternatives (and their impact) is easier than jumping right to the “solution.” In reality, there isn’t one solution, but an infinite number of possible solutions, each of which embodies different tradeoffs.

These tradeoffs involve tough questions.

To what extent are you willing to reduce promised benefits for the elderly? To what extent are you willing to impose means-testing on programs? To what extent are you willing to raise taxes, and what impact will those taxes have on economic growth? What is an acceptable level of debt 30 years out? To what extent are you willing to reduce spending in other areas of government, such as transportation, agriculture, or defense?

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