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Society & Organizations Institute

HEC CEMS workshop on systems innovation at Les Mureaux

On September 1, the 2021 HEC CEMS Block Seminar on Inclusive & Social Business proposed by the S&O Institute hosted a full-day workshop on systems innovation at les Mureaux, a popular working-class district of Paris Metropolitan area which has begun its social and ecological transition.

HEC CEMS Mureaux Media

The 37 students from 17 nationalities and a few HEC staff members among whom Professor Matteo Winkler, academic director of the CEMS program, were welcomed by the team of the Pole territorial de coopération économique PTCE Vivre les Mureaux, an inclusive and very dynamic citizen initiative.

Learning by doing

The PTCE-Vivre les Mureaux was launched end of 2017, in a context of job scarcity, social and cultural tensions and demands. Led by Jean-Marc Semoulin, its president, Anne-Denise Daho, its director and Jean de Wailly, co-founder, it has worked hard since then to implement an innovative, revitalizing and promising project for the economic and social development of its territory. It has the support of more than 600 dedicated local actors.

To help the students better understand the complexity of the case study, the PTCE-Vivre les Mureaux invited various stakeholders (public and private) of the city to meet and interact with them: the elected official of the Townhall, religious leaders, representatives of local companies, civil society, moms... Students from Les Mureaux joined the workshop and experienced the process with the HEC class.

HEC CEMS Mureaux Media Embed


Guided by Nierika Hamaekers, a coach and facilitator, the idea was to accompany the participants through a systemic learning experience called Systems Innovation. Using different system mapping tools, the students brainstormed about possible solutions for the city’s future, and finally came up with perspectives and insights on how to transform challenges in education and access to work into opportunities in Les Mureaux. Through this methodology of systems thinking, Nierika’s purpose was to initiate a shift of mindset “It can be used to take a step backwards and have a look at the bigger picture, which in turn helps to gain a different perspective on interventions and solutions for transforming the system into a more resilient and sustainable one. This process is called Systems innovation.

The PTCE was particularly happy to be able to mix HEC students and young talents from our city. The conclusions you raised at the end of the day confirms us in the direction that we undertake! We’ll keep on moving!" said Jean de Wailly, at the end of the day.

The discussions with the city's stakeholders and their report on the many positive changes at les Mureaux have really moved me and they are a great example for how one can bring about social change. Reflecting on the remaining challenges has proven very insightful. My key takeaway is that it is not enough to change the structural conditions and to create a positive image toward third parties, but one must also change what people think about themselves. Thanks a lot to everyone involved in this powerful example!” said Alexandre Lang, CEMS student.

Thanks to the remarkable welcome of the team of PTCE-Vivre Les Mureaux, the support of the CEMS program, the know-how of Nierika and the involvement of the students, the experience was engaging, inspiring and all together memorable!