Mass Career Customization (MCC): Building Corporate Lattice at Work

The corporate ladder will be obsolete in less than decade. No longer would an employee make a straightforward upward climb from the bottom to achieve the higher rungs of the ladder. Instead, the employee will have the liberty to take diversions along the way as the seasons of life in the employee’s lives change significantly which demands a new approach to career development.

The corporate ladder will be superseded by what Cathleen Benko, Chief Talent Officer of Deloitte calls the Corporate Lattice. She says, “Lattices allow movement in many directions. Like the literal lattices you see in gardens, these are living platforms for growth with upward momentum visible along many paths — a much closer depiction than a ladder of how today’s careers are built and talent is developed.”


Source: Deloitte Whitepaper

Let’s look at why the 21st century way of career development is changing from a corporate ladder to corporate lattice model.


Shortage of Critical Talent – There is a 6 million gap in the US between the number of students graduating from college and the number of workers needed to cover job growth and replace retiring Baby Boomers in 2012 and a 35 million-person gap by 2025.

Changing Family Structures – Only 17% of U.S households today follow the traditional family structure in which the father works outside the home and the mother inside the home (compared to 63% in earlier generations) These nontraditional family structure put pressure on existing career trajectory models (hint: career ladder) to match the rhythm of the two-parent working parents.

Increasing Number of Women – Almost 60% of college graduates today are women. They graduate with better GPAs and more honors than men. An influx of women is expected to enter the workforce and they do not fit traditional career progressions. Many of them have discontinuous, non-linear career trajectories.

Increasing Impact of Technology – More virtual, connected workplace with transform how and where the work gets done. This could reduce significant costs and improve productivity when implemented right.

Evolving Needs of Generations – Gen X and Y have high expectations for person and work lives. They generally view careers as personalized paths that align with their interests, development goals and desire for multicultural experiences. They are more flexible in their work style.

Changing Expectations of Men – More men have desired to preserve and increase personal time at the expense of pursuing bigger jobs and more money.

The concept of mass career customization is inspired by mass product customization. The parallels are the following:

Source: Deloitte Whitepaper

Seasons of life demand different career trajectories. As noted in the various trends that affect the evolving workplace environment, people in different career stages need to understand that the line between work and private life may become more blurry in the future. For example, a recent grad of MBA working as a product manager’s role may be very different from a senior director with 10+ years of experience. The MCC framework has four dimensions – Pace, Workload, Location/Schedule, and Role. All of them have tradeoffs as one considers it in their career development plan. The path therefore looks like a sine wave.

Deloitte Whitepaper

However convincing and compelling the value of the new mass career customization and corporate lattice model brings, many companies fail to realize where to start. As Benko says, “Not everyone recognizes that there is a structural workforce shift at hand, the workplace must response in kind, and now is the time and place to address this challenge. “

Check out the short clip from Deloitte that highlights its ground-breaking initiatives in advancing women in the workplace. The Corporate Lattice model helped women to launch their careers and making Deloitte a good place to work company.