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Senior L&D leaders and HEC professors came together over 2-3 October 2017 for the 6th edition of the Corporate Learning Workshop, “Shape your digital future”, jointly organized by HEC Paris, Business Digest and CrossKnowledge.

We are living in a moment of exploding possibilities, says HEC Paris Associate Professor of Marketing Kristine de Valck in her opening remarks for the 2-day long workshop on the implications of digital disruption for L&D leaders. This “Cambrian” explosion is thanks to cheap, ubiquitous building blocks for digital products and services.


The changes enabled by digital technology occur at a pace and a magnitude that disrupt established ways of value creation, social interaction, doing business, and more generally, our thinking.”  Kristine de Valck, HEC Paris Associate Professor


What does this mean for companies and, in particular, for their learning & development functions? To start, digital disruption has become every individual’s responsibility, not just the CTO, hence the critical importance of learning in any business today. On another note how successfully you navigate digital disruption depends less on your ability to master the entire changing arsenal of digital tools at your disposal, than on your ability to change mindsets!



The digital world has empowered consumers, turning them into prosumers, notes Professor Kristine de Valck. An assessment emerged amongst “The digital customer journey is now all about experience.” HEC Paris students were interviewed regarding the quality of their customer experiences during their most recent purchases: What delighted these young digital natives? What was a disaster for them? What would turn them into brand advocates or brand detractors? It turns out that the top priority for these digitally empowered consumers is to have frictionless exchanges.



Thanks to the 3rd Industrial Revolution, every business has become digital,” notes HEC Paris Professor of Strategy Laurence Lehmann Ortega. 3 main pillars for digital optimization were identified:

  1. Smart automation
  2. Connectivity to render once highly fragmented supply chains seamless
  3. Predictive analytics to inform real-time decision-making



Digital offers new ways to create business models,” Professor Ortega emphasized, focusing the discussion around one of the major digital disruptors of business models: the platform company (e.g., Uber, Spotify, Netflix, and so on). Thinking of his or her business – and even his or her function – in terms of the platform model can bring valuable new insight to every leader in every company.



“Agility” has become a buzzword, and the danger with buzzwords is that they become so overloaded with meaning that they cease to mean anything at all. L&D leaders concluded that agility is the ability to adapt to and even shape complex, fast-changing, unpredictable environments. But what do organizations need to do to be agile? Collective intelligence and adaptability, which depend on fostering cultures of collaboration, empathy, experimentation, and vulnerability:

  • How to reinvent our workspaces
  • How to (really) empower people
  • How to develop a culture where all contributions are valued
  • How to reinvent career paths and talent management
  • How to encourage experimentation



Do we really have to choose between scale and agility?” asks HEC Paris Chief Digital Officer Robin Ajdari. No. But to drive digital transformation at scale requires specific capabilities and competencies. The key takeway for learning is to help managers develop the new capabilities that they need to become transformation leaders:

  • Entrepreneurship: ability to depict a common vision, take initiative, and drive execution relentlessly despite challenges
  • Leadership: ability to get buy-in from stakeholders and inspire teams, to associate the right resource and energies into the project
  • Coaching: ability to develop people, by helping them set ambitious goals and achieve them, with the right level of support and feedback
  • Collaboration: ability to create communities, to leverage collective intelligence from virtual teams