How to Learn the Digital Transformation

Change is ubiquous – in our daily life and also in the working environment. This is not only because of new technologies that enable the change, but also due to more instable and fast altering environments in the economical world: the buzzword digital transformation is at the center of this development.

And as this has been debated from almost every angle, we know that digitalization influences the way we communicate, behave and even think. But while a vast majority of people has already entered the digital world, the vast majority of big enterprises has not. Many of them still cope with the digital transformation: not only with regard to their processes, but also their structures.

In the digital world and especially on the internet we are used to get our information fast, everywhere and at any time. Moreover, we extensively use networks – e.g. the internet itself where the data is connected through a network. And on a micro-level we use Wikimedia to get condensed information that was generated by many people – the Wikipedia network. When we go on holidays we read hotel ratings from other visitors or even book an apartment on airbnb. Even social media can only work because there is a network. All these examples show that especially to digital natives boundaries or hierarchies are not an option. But when you go to work most of your digital mindset does not apply, because most of the huge companies do not think digital. Big corporations think in hierarchies and power structures, seniority and status symbols.

Hyper Island – an institution for innovative thinking

In order to keep up with the pace of change not only companies must rethink their traditional hierarchical organizational structures, but also the personal learning process must be changed. Therefore, the founders of Hyper Island established an educational institution for these purposes in 1994. They already felt in the 1990s that digitalization in every part of our lives was inevitable – so Hyper Island aims at a learning experience that challenges its students and companies in order to enable their personal and economic growth in the highly competitive environment of our digital world. At the same time, Hyper Island has strong ties to leading companies – Google, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, etc. – so that the students benefit from those corporate learning partners via internships or workshop sessions and the companies get a chance to meet with avantgarde thinkers of the next generation.

By 2015 Hyper Island has managed to offer a wide range of learning programs in seven different cities all over the world for young professionals, managers, and whole corporate teams: intensive courses like the three day Master Class Digital Acceleration where students are introduced to a new way of thinking that challenges everything we know, full-time and part-time programs – e.g. the full-time 65 weeks master program Digital Data Strategist, where students are equipped with the knowledge and tools to manage business development, design and storytelling in the Big Data era. But there are no grades and no essays; the learning experience itself is quite unique and innovative: it is a collaborative approach that highly involves all participants.

Internet Innovators talked with Johanna Frelin, CEO at Hyper Island, about challenges of the digital transformation, employee empowerment and new forms of learning.