Training Top 10 Hall of Fame Outstanding Training Initiatives (July/August 2020)

Each year Training magazine requires all Training Top 10 Hall of Famers to submit an Outstanding Training Initiative that we share with our readers. Here are the details of Deloitte LLP’s Human-Centered Design Curriculum and McCarthy Building Companies’ Emerging Leaders Experience.

Deloitte LLP: Human-Centered Design Curriculum

Deloitte’s Human-Centered Design Curriculum is a multi-modal learning experience focused on introducing Deloitte professionals to the mindsets and methods of Human-Centered Design (HCD). HCD was identified as a critical capability for Deloitte professionals to diagnose and address client challenges and opportunities and deliver impactful solutions.

HCD is a structured, iterative, and collaborative approach to creative problem solving that starts with understanding the end-users and ends with solutions tailored to their specific needs. HCD relies on people’s ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, and to construct ideas that are emotionally meaningful, as well as functional. It drives innovation by elevating the voice of the customer to understand complex, human-centered challenges and opportunities and to address those by uncovering novel ideas. HCD is anchored in the advocacy for the end-user experience and requires empathy, curiosity, and humility to generate new and relevant solutions, keeping the focus on desired impact and mitigating the influence of bias and institutional assumptions.

Program Details

The Human-Centered Design Curriculum is available to all Deloitte professionals in the Deloitte U.S. member firm, including both those in client-facing and enabling functions of the organization. It provides professionals with a suite of offerings that includes:

1. A curated “playlist” of external HCD resources (podcasts, e-learning, etc.) available on-demand.

2. A series of 13 nano learnings available for practitioners to access and use at their own pace.

3. An “Expert Corner” series of short videos featuring Deloitte HCD leaders sharing use cases, tips, and best practices for applying HCD in client work.

4. A two-day live “boot camp” using a real-world case study to allow learners to learn and practice HCD methods and mindsets. Each delivery of the boot camp is co-facilitated by an HCD leader in the field. This blended set of learning solutions provides a holistic development experience that offers point-of-need, targeted support.

To date, more than 1,500 Deloitte professionals have accessed or made use of the virtual resources, and approximately 400 learners have attended the Boot Camp.


The HCD Curriculum enables Deloitte to be more innovative, agile, and empathic as a workforce—elevating its trusted advisor status and increasing client satisfaction.

The effectiveness and impact to date of the Human-Centered Design Curriculum has been realized on two fronts:

1. Learning outcomes from the live learning experience/boot camp (as measured by the learning program evaluations)

  • 6 out of the 6 learning program evaluation dimensions (satisfaction, learning, utility, performance, instruction, other) had 90 percent or higher favorable ratings.
  • There was an increase in self-reported percent favorable ratings for all pre-/post-capabilities that measured:
    - Idea generation (+12 percent)
    - Recognizing HCD problems “in the wild” (+52 percent)
    - Taking ideas from ideation to implementation (+9 percent)
    - Problem framing (+40 percent)
    - Understanding/articulating HCD mindsets (+47 percent)
    - Understanding of HCD skillsets (+59 percent)

2. Performance Outcomes: Deloitte has observed an increase in HCD capabilities across the parts of the organization that have engaged in this learning. There also have been numerous success stories where HCD has been applied to define, diagnose, and address both external and internal client problems and generate ideas for solutions with the end-user at the heart of the process.

McCarthy Building Companies: Emerging Leaders Experience

The cost of recruiting, developing, and retaining top talent is high in the construction labor market. McCarthy Building Companies believes in hiring the best people in the construction industry and continuously investing in their development. The cost of investing in high-performing employees is significantly less than the cost of replacing them. The Emerging Leaders Experience helps prepare participants for their next role, reiterates McCarthy’s commitment to them and their development, helps retain top talent, and ultimately translates to a better client experience.

McCarthy’s national training team recognized that while they already have strong national leadership programs and other development solutions, the firm’s Southern region required a more targeted focus to accelerate development and expand their leadership pool in order to support the region’s growth. By putting intentional focus on a small group of high-performing mid-level managers, McCarthy ensures the region has a pool of talented leaders to draw from as additional leadership needs are identified.

Program Details

The Emerging Leaders Experience aims to provide exposure to concepts, situations, and challenges faster than participants might see them in their current role, including capabilities related to McCarthy’s five core competencies:

1. Managing and Developing

  • Operating as a “talent manager” (external)
  • Developing others (internal)

2. Analysis and Decision-Making

  • Enhancing business acumen

3. Relationships and Teaming

  • Leveraging Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and actively listening

4. Leading and Influencing

  • Demonstrating executive presence and negotiating
  • Building community presence and involvement

5. Responsibility and Achievement

  • Setting the tone culturally

To effectively drive short- and long-term impact, the team created a holistic solution involving cultural change, leadership involvement, active manager-led development, and learning and development. Keys to content development included:

  • Content was developed with an MBA-like approach, using case studies that span functions. Scenarios and in-person sessions are focused on exposure to concepts and challenges participants will not get in their normal workday, providing an early look at upper-level assignments.  
  • The problems presented, and associated solutions, were complex. All activities and case studies were designed to mirror the type of constraints and incomplete information found in real business cases.
  • The “process” is treated with as much emphasis as the “product.” Participants are encouraged and coached to exchange perspectives, counter and defend points, and build on the ideas of others.
  • The content stresses frequent and unscripted interactions with the executive team. In-person activities take place during quarterly sessions and after case studies.

The content is presented during four in-person sessions. Prior to each session, learners receive pre-work that is reviewed and built upon during the session. At the end of each session, teams are given a case study or scenario to work on and present a solution at a later date.

Each session includes comprehensive pre-work. The pre-work is typically a case study of an actual business challenge. Participants are instructed to determine an approach to solve the challenge. Often grouped into teams, they are tasked to deliver presentations that define the problem and potential solutions, with additional parameters based on the case study. Feedback is provided before and during the session.

The program’s centerpiece is the one-day sessions attended by the learners and high-level executive facilitators. Each session is designed around one or two of McCarthy’s five competencies. Throughout the day, the executive facilitators lead exercises, team activities, and analytical debriefs on the five competencies. At the end of select sessions, participants receive an additional assignment due at a later date.

The post-session case study is an opportunity for participants to continue building and using the knowledge gained during the day to solve an existing business challenge with their team. Participants and their team work on the case study for approximately 30 days and then present their approach and solution to a group of leaders and executives. Detailed feedback includes a debrief, perspective sharing, and new best practices.


Since launching the Emerging Leaders Experience, McCarthy has achieved several notable business outcomes, including:

  • As of April 2020, 50 percent of participants were promoted based on their ongoing performance in the program. This achievement helps address the Southern region’s need to raise leadership capabilities and expand its potential leadership pool.
  • Leveraging the knowledge, exposure, and exclusivity of the program helped McCarthy retain a talented project manager on a high-profile project who planned to resign.
  • As part of one case study, participants successfully used action learning to address a real business challenge and developed an onboarding solution for new engineers that is expanding to the entire company.

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