The workplace is changing.
Competitive firms and companies know that in order to keep
their best people happy and in
their seats once the economy improves, flexibility and providing a
process to customize career paths
are among the keys to success. In
return, they enjoy a more adaptable workforce and are able to better respond to the ebbs and flow of
Big Four firm Deloitte has been
watching this cultural movement
closely, having introduced the con-
cept of Mass Career Customization
— which is the shift from the cor-
porate ladder to what they call the
This resulted in the 2007 book,
Mass Career Customization: Align-
ing the Workplace with Today’s
Nontraditional Workforce (Har-
vard Business School Press), in an
attempt to organize a growing trend
among workplace environments.
Mass Career Customization or
“MCC” was incubated in the Deloitte’s Women’s Initiative because,
though the firm had introduced 69
different flexibility programs, work-life issues were still the No. 1 reason
women were leaving, and the No.
3 reason their male counterparts
were leaving as well.
Accounting Today spoke with authors Cathy Benko, Deloitte’s chief
talent officer, and Anne Weisberg, a
director in the U.S. firm’s talent organization specializing in the field
of diversity, gender and work-life
integration, about MCC and the
new follow-up book coming out
this summer — The Corporate Lattice: Achieving High Performance in
the Changing World of Work.
What was the outcome?
Weisberg: Even though dial-up
The future of career customization
BY LIZ GOLD
from 9 to 5 or 8 to 6, that’s already
being chipped away.
along each of those dimensions.
That’s what we’ve been working
towards for the last three years at
Deloitte. We have taken that strategic decision to intentionally become a lattice organization and
everyone at Deloitte, and I mean
everyone, has a mass customization
conversation with their counselor
or manager, and that conversation
gets folded into all the other talent
management and performance
management processes. It’s part of
goal-setting, it’s part of how you get
assigned work, it’s part of performance reviews, it’s part of everything. It’s a way of instantly scaling
flexibility and career-life fit.
What have been some of your
greatest lessons from MCC?
Benko: We learned that what
people really are looking for is the
option value. There is a comfort — a
psychic comfort — in just knowing
that if and when you wanted to do
something different, that there was
a culture and there was a process,
a scalable way to do that. We also
learned that we were worried about
dial-down, but what actually hap-
pened, more people raised their
hand to dial up — meaning people
who wanted to accelerate their
growth and their learning and their
development and networks.
requests have outnumbered dial-down requests, 90 percent of our
people have made no change to
their set of choices that they made
going into MCC. We have what we
call the “Common Profile” and 90
percent of our people are on it.
What’s very interesting is that even
though that is true, satisfaction with
current career-life fit has gone up
over 20 percent. We’ve seen big increases in satisfaction just because
people have more of a say.
What would you say to the firms
that aren’t doing that and are resistant to change?
Benko: “One-size-fits-all” is fitting fewer and fewer. So they are
going to find they are not competitive, and I am not just talking about
not being competitive in the talent
market — you can’t be competitive
in the client market.
Is the average midsized accounting firm taking this seriously?
Benko: I think if you take a look
at average midsized firms and how
they are organized, are they being
organized very hierarchically or are
they more matrix-organized? I think
that’s a signal right there. If you look
around at what you are already doing, you already have flexible work
arrangements, you already have lots
of project-based work going on, you
have people who are telecommut-ing, you already have global teams,
so therefore the notion of work being a physical location every day
You address flexible work arrangements in the MCC book,
saying they’re not the answer. Are
they still not the answer?
Weisberg: They are not the
whole answer and I think that was
the problem. Most organizations,
including Deloitte, thought they
were the whole answer but they’re
not. Traditionally, most F WAs have
really only addressed one of those
dimensions or maybe two of those
dimensions we spoke of earlier in
the MCC framework — workload
and location/schedule. They were
never fully integrated into the way
business gets done. The way to tell
whether your F WA program is integrated is to ask your leaders or your
See CAREER on 19
What is MCC, and how has it
changed since your book was
published three years ago?
Weisberg: The MCC framework
says that any career can be decon-structed to four core dimensions:
pace, which is the rate of career
progression; workload, which is
the amount of work you do; location/schedule, which is where and
when you work; and role, which is
the set of responsibilities you have.
Any organization should be able
to articulate options for its people