Booz Allen sues Deloitte for stealing proprietary data

18 August 2014

US consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton is in the process of suing competitor Deloitte Consulting, accusing the Big 4 firm of stealing proprietary information. With the ‘stolen’ information, Deloitte allegedly recruited an entire team from Booz Allen and used the information to gain an ‘unfair’ edge when pitching for government work. Deloitte Consulting denies the allegations.

The U.S. consulting industry – the largest consulting market in the world – is currently closely following a law suit between two consulting firms – Booz Allen Hamilton (one of the US’ largest public sector consultants) and Deloitte Consulting (the largest management consultancy in the world). Booz Allen Hamilton claims that Deloitte Consulting used stolen proprietary information to recruit an entire team from Booz Allen. According to its accusations, early 2012 Deloitte executives conspired with a few Booz Allen employees to steal proprietary information about salaries and roles. With this information, they could easily tempt a team of Booz Allen consultants to join Deloitte.

Court Case

The consultants subsequently took along further proprietary information, which they then used in business development planning and proposals. Information that, according to Booz Allen, was stolen includes among others financial information such as revenue projections, and an overview of Booz Allen contracts, including terms and conditions with customers.

"Booz Allen's lawsuit is based on evidence that strongly suggests Deloitte and some of its senior executives improperly obtained Booz Allen proprietary information and used it to interfere with Booz Allen's employee and customer relationships," says William Meyers, Vice President at Booz Allen. "Their actions go well outside the bounds of proper business conduct and fair competition between companies. Booz Allen invests considerable resources in the development of our professionals and the protection of our proprietary business information, and we will continue to seek redress for Deloitte's misconduct."

Deloitte has rebuffed the claims, arguing that Booz Allen’s lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to punish former employees for seeking a new employer. “This case arises out of Booz Allen's frustration with several former employees who left to go work for a competitor,” the motion claims. “These at-­will employees were not subject to any non-­compete or non-solicitation agreements, and therefore were free to leave one employer for what they perceive to be greener pastures at another,” writes Deloitte.

Booz Allen vs Deloitte - AlixPartners vs McKinsey

Proprietary information
Although it doesn’t occur too often, it is not the first time that rival consulting firms find themselves in the court debating the theft of proprietary information. Earlier this year for instance AlixPartners sued two former partners (Eric Thompson; Hong Kong office and Ivo Naumann; Shanghai office) for allegedly stealing confidential files when they left for rival McKinsey & Company.


Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

17 April 2019

Soft skills matter in the workplace just as much as technical expertise, writes Samantha Caine, Managing Director of Business Linked Teams.

For too long technical expertise has been seen as the marker of a strong candidate for development into a sales or leadership position. Sales and leadership candidates are tasked with demonstrating a diverse and wide-ranging set of technical skills, yet their aptitude in these technical skills or ‘hard skills’ cannot signify great leadership potential. This is why a healthy balance of soft skills and technical ability is required. 

So what exactly is the difference between technical skills and soft skills? In engineering, it’s crucial to demonstrate knowledge of physics as well as a strong grasp on mathematical equations. Yet, in any industry, it’s important for leaders to be able to interact with other people effectively with soft skills like communication, empathy and adaptability. 

Business Linked Team’s 2018 study into internal leadership development revealed that 69% of large organisations are prioritising the identification and development of future leaders from within the workforce. As more and more organisations begin to invest in sales or leadership development within their existing workforces, more focus needs to be placed on ensuring the right soft skills are in place. 

With those soft skills in place throughout the workforce, the business will benefit from a wider pool of potential leaders developing under their noses, and it should be the same where sales candidates are concerned. 

It’s not just about easier access to ideal candidates for these positions without the rigmarole of recruiting from outside of the organisation. The leadership development study also found that 89% of HR decision makers say succession planning has become a top priority. Those currently serving in leadership positions can’t lead forever and the same goes for those generating sales for the business.

Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

From people leaving for new opportunities or retirement, to people simply stepping aside to focus on other areas of the business, successful leaders and salespeople require experienced and capable successors that will be ready and able to confidently step into their shoes and pick up the mantle without the business experiencing any lapse in performance.

Soft skills make stronger candidates

When it comes to the soft skills required, a strong leader must be able to manage through clear communication and effective time management, coaching and goal setting. They must be able to demonstrate empathy and empower their teams to be successful, productive and fully engaged. And beyond simply giving direction, they must also be able to take direction from those above them and cascade the business strategy down through their teams. 

A strong sales candidate must possess the ability to communicate value to the customer, negotiate well and protect margin or the ability to increase the scope of a particular sales opportunity. 

With the relevant soft skills in place, the business will benefit from increased productivity, greater agility against changing market conditions and greater transparency. In turn, this will provide visibility on issues and inefficiencies while removing opportunity for miscommunication. All of this can transform the culture of a department, improving employee satisfaction and reducing staff turnover. 

Ultimately, developing leadership or sales candidates will require the business to strike the right balance between technical skills and soft skills, and this requires an effective and sustained learning journey.

A balanced learning journey

Facilitating and supporting the development of leadership and sales is best achieved by establishing training groups. By cultivating training groups, businesses are creating talent pools that will inspire and support each other on the learning journey. However, personal goals and learning objectives must be defined for each individual based on their own existing skillsets and the skills that each individual needs to develop. 

With the emergence of e-learning, businesses recognise the value of online-based learning activities, yet many make the mistake of opting for one-size-fits-all solutions which are solely focused on self-study. A development solution will only deliver true return on investment if it combines e-learning activities with group learning activities that provide opportunity for shared experiences and support.

A blended learning solution that combines self-study and face-to-face group learning activities will aid strong development of the talent pool through shared experiences. Through these shared experiences, those undergoing the training will organically develop a support network that supports the development of the group as much as it supports the development of each individual. 

The blended learning approach is supported by one of the seven principles of human learning that socially supported interactions aid the individual development of expertise, metacognitive skills, and formation of the learner’s sense of self. The strongest opportunities for development can be unlocked by blending workshops with online activities such as virtual sessions, peer coaching, self-study, online games and business simulations. But it’s crucial to provide a blend of one-to-one and group sessions too.

Beyond delivering a better learning outcome for the employee, the blended learning approach allows organisations to adapt their training quickly and easily to shifting business demands in an ever-changing landscape.