Daniel Wolf earned his B.A. in marketing (’76) and his MBA (‘77) from Michigan State University. He is the president and CEO of Dewar Sloan, a business consulting firm based in Traverse City. A seasoned professional in the consulting world, Wolf is also an accomplished writer and has authored three books about leadership strategy and execution. The following alumnus voice is repurposed from the Broad College of Business.
Wolf has witnessed and experienced the changing focus of business consulting and has found that his passion lies in diversity, equity and inclusion. For Wolf, the heart of a company is in its culture, and he works with clients to ensure that they are conquering organizational, leadership and resource management challenges that come their way.
In this Q&A, Wolf shares his journey and expertise in DEI and how he’s making an impact.
What does DEI mean to you?
I prefer to examine this as diversity, inclusion, engagement and mobility, or DIEM. My thoughts on diversity are connected to my intentions with authentic inclusion, the power of engagement and the power of mobility.
For my group, DIEM is the name of the opportunity for bringing out the best in others, for driving collective human impact, for developing talent blocks and beams in strategic teams that have ready competence, adaptability and confidence. With a greater focus on engagement and mobility, we are saying that everybody needs to have their heads and hearts in the game, and everybody deserves an open, clear shot at personal and professional success.
Our job, directly and indirectly, is to help connect the DIEM puzzle for people whose individual differences and collective interests present the very best equation for near-term and long-term success. This is a broader mindset that is focused on the development of talent at every level, for every role and function and across functions.
Our intention is pretty simple: Bring out the best in people in order to make the combined work of the organization better, smarter, stronger and faster and creating real value in the near term and long-term. That drives competitive advantage, economic performance and corporate stewardship.
What is your approach to DEI/DIEM, and how do you ensure that it will create lasting positive effects on your clients?
Everything starts with why — why is this meaningful? Why should it drive value? Cutting through all the social and political concerns that surround diversity and DIEM policy and culture, our first principle is always to bring out the best in others. And why? Because it starts with human relationships, respect, values and opportunity. And because it makes sense for organizations to manage the most essential resource they have in their commission: human talent — in individual and collective terms.
We are very direct and explicit with our clients on this because the strategic prospects of every company we serve are highly dependent on the kind of talent blocks and beams they bring to the work of strategy formation, integration and execution. The better the company’s DIEM equation, the better the resources, culture and structure they have in place to sustain the enterprise now and going forward. For our shared purposes, this is simply a reflection of business sense, human sense, common sense and first principles.
What has been your experience and inspiration for pursuing DEI/DIEM throughout your career?
From the start of my career decades ago, working with people whose backgrounds and experiences were different from my own gave me an appreciation for their perspectives, knowledge, challenges and relationships that added value. We need to appreciate community, social, group and cultural diversity; cognitive, intellectual and neurodiversity; gender, generational and regional diversity; and personal history, experiential and identity diversity.
This has been part of my personal journey and a very key part of my professional journey. A strong classical education, a few good mentors, a strong faith foundation, many years in the YMCA and sports programs and a penchant for jumping in at the “deep end” have reinforced my views and my principles.
I wrote about this frame for “Diversity Executive” and other audiences in the past, and we continue to build from this base going forward. We address this at the board level in our work with governance. We address this at the different levels in our work with strategic teams, senior leadership and governance. We address this at the different stages of pre-boarding, on-boarding, re-boarding and off-boarding individuals and strategic teams based on their evolving roles and functions.