Interview with Gregg Lister - Deloitte Innovation Unit Leader



I recently met with Gregg Lister, the Innovation Unit Leader at Deloitte, to hear his thoughts on Idea Management and its role in innovation.


Gregg runs the innovation division that functions across the entire organisation to improve innovation outcomes. Gregg loves ideas and understanding the hidden parts of how we can progress in life. He has over 20 years of experience across different types of organisations in the areas of strategy, innovation and business development.


I started by asking Gregg what he thought of the concept of Idea Management?


Idea Management is very important because there is generally a lack of discipline around how ideas are dealt with. It is used for the sourcing, evaluating and choosing ideas. Idea Management needs to be part of a bigger approach of what a company is trying to achieve.

What are the key elements of Idea Management?

For Gregg these included:

· Sourcing ideas: This needs to be part of a bigger approach of what the business is trying to achieve. Ideas need to be sourced from as broad an audience as you can get.

· Challenges: Well-crafted challenges are vital for the collection of good quality ideas.

· Evaluating ideas: An efficient process needs to be created where bad ideas are killed fast.

What role does Idea Management play in innovation?

Idea management is the essence of innovation. This is because it all starts with ideas and if you can’t capture and convert these well, people will lose faith in your process and may stop trying to innovate.

Gregg, how does Deloitte do Idea Management?

We use a product called Spigit, a product with which Deloitte has an international partnership. Deloitte has been using Spigit globally for about five years and has seen some great outcomes in that time.


This is used to issue challenges for different divisions and countries throughout Deloitte Africa. An example of this was issuing a challenge around different ways of creating more value from all of the data we are generating in the world.

Have you had any successes?

We have had some successes, yes. We intend to build on this by doing a lot more of it in the future and also improving the structures through which we turn the best ideas into value. This is never easy and requires constant experimentation and effort.


We are focussing on two areas of improvements. Firstly, a concerted effort is being made to make sure that the challenges are structured in such a way as to get good quality ideas entered into the system.

Secondly, people at Deloitte are being asked (almost personally) to engage with creative activities to show them that they can also add their ideas into the system. The reason is that the staff are very busy, and it is difficult to persuade them to spend the time engaging with the Idea Management solution. Some people also tend to think that they aren’t creative.


Gregg also said that sometimes they end up a great deal of ideas to an issued challenge and it becomes time consuming to evaluate which ideas to proceed with.

Lastly, what are Deloitte’s plans for Idea Management in the future?

Deloitte is committed to the Idea Management process and will continue to look at engaging and inspiring the Deloitte staff.

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