Annual Report 2021

Special Features

Technology-mediated impact

Building on a rapid pivot that made it possible to deliver powerful learning experiences throughout the pandemic, IMD further refined its adoption of technology-mediated learning, not just for continuity, but to unlock deeper impact for a broader audience in 2021.

IMD’s approach focused on further professionalizing its capabilities and investing in areas where technology could be leveraged to enhance program delivery, build new experiential learning opportunities and create genuine differentiation.

IMD has always been about impact and pushing boundaries. The pandemic has been an accelerator of what we had already been doing. We were already set up for innovation and pushing boundaries with technology – that’s just who we are.
Director of Programs and Learning Design Paul Hunter

Equipped for the future

IMD has invested in state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment and teaching facilities to ensure the effective delivery of synchronous, virtual liVe program formats, modules for asynchronous online learning, and hybrid learning and classroom experiences.

In 2021, we really professionalized the whole process we had introduced, whether it be training, sound or image quality or internet bandwidth.
Chief Digital and Customer Experience Officer Louis Leclezio
Transforming flagship lecture hall auditoriums

Transforming flagship lecture hall auditoriums

IMD started to further transform its flagship “lecture hall” auditoriums (+350 seats) with the latest technology to capture and stream live sessions, including four HD cameras and AI. Many virtual programs also deploy best-in-class applications for interactive learning with virtual study rooms, live polls, interactive whiteboards and collaboration tools such as Miro.

liVe auditorium
immersive auditoriums
liVe rooms support virtual sessions
video-conferencing rooms

Reaching more people for deeper impact

The well-orchestrated use of appropriate technology allows for the cascading of impactful learning experiences across organizations, time zones, silos and hierarchies. Executive education is no longer limited to those individuals within a company that can justify the investment in travel and accommodation, and time away from the office.

“Technology allows us to go deeper into organizations and to reach more people whose locations or organizational rank have, in the past, created obstacles to participation, such as the cost of travel,” said Leclezio.

“Our contribution to society as a whole has been broadened through our ability to reach levels in organizations that previously we did not get to,” he said.

Indeed, a greater number of participants from organizations across Africa and other emerging markets around the world were able to access IMD expertise through liVe virtual programs in 2021.

Strong demand

In a sign of the continued restrictions of the pandemic, but also as a reflection of changing client preferences, about two-thirds of IMD’s revenues came from technology-mediated programs, compared to about 10 percent pre-pandemic.

With the increased uptake in virtual learning, the number of Zoom participants and sessions rose by about 14% and 21% respectively on the previous year.

As videoconferencing tools became part of everyday life, there was a risk of “Zoom fatigue” hindering the impact of executive education programs.

In response, IMD ensured its pedagogical design was even more tightly tuned, focused and delivered in an engaging way, for example, with programs featuring shorter, segmented and varied sessions and further developing pre- and post-program engagement to personalize learning journeys.

As well as a growing range of fully online and native liVe offerings, the blended approach of more complex learning journeys became more mainstream across the IMD portfolio in 2021, featuring asynchronous online modules, synchronous liVe sessions and in-person options that could be tailored to the needs of participants and the aims of the program.

Zoom in numbers

Zoom in numbers

66,849 sessions

(+21% vs. 2020)

338,829 participants

(+14% vs. 2020)

The broadcast studio

IMD has invested in an in-house production studio, which enables faculty to create broadcast quality video and podcast material for use in blended, virtual or online programs and for engagement with the IMD Community. A self-recording booth makes it easy for faculty to record engaging content with or without the support of IMD’s expert production team.

Introducing Sprint

IMD launched the “Digital Transformation Sprint” in 2021 – a new online program delivered through an innovative, technology-mediated learning experience. The “sprint” concept provides a short, intense and highly-focused 15-day learning journey for busy executives who want to refresh their knowledge and upskill quickly.

Anchored around core concepts and immediately applicable tools, a large first cohort, drawn from a diverse range of industries and markets, embarked on a highly interactive journey, which featured 24/7 access to the latest research captured in an engaging way, live faculty sessions, guest speakers, cohort discussions, personalized assignments and peer reviews.

Thanks to the success of the inaugural sprint, which received excellent feedback scores, IMD will offer further sprints on different topic areas in 2022.

Mike Wade

Sprint participants…

  • Gained fresh knowledge and insights: 4.8/5
  • Live sessions: 4.7/5

Stepping into virtual reality

In 2021, IMD rolled out stunning and innovative virtual reality (VR) technology in its programs as part of new, immersive learning experiences. The institute partnered with Jenson 8, a pioneer in the field of pedagogically-driven VR, to offer experiential learning to all participants, regardless of location.

The platform uses VR to enable teams and individuals to challenge their limitations and develop new skills in ways that can enhance or replace existing techniques.

Nestlé’s VR experience at IMD
Nestlé’s VR experience at IMD

“Experiential learning is really important to drive impact,” Director of Programs and Learning Design Paul Hunter said. “It’s great to expand our knowledge, tools and frameworks to build skills, but where the rubber meets the road is where you put that into practice. Virtual reality allows us to do this regardless of location in a way that is game-changing.”

VR was deployed in a range of custom and open programs, including one impactful simulation in which VR headsets open up a world in which a spaceship has crashed and the whole team, whether on campus or connecting remotely, has to work together to construct an escape plan before the last rocket leaves the planet.

Experiential team learning with VR
Experiential team learning with VR

Participants need to demonstrate excellent collaboration, effective communication and strong strategic thinking to succeed. All of this takes place in a high-pressure, fast-changing environment, which stretches individuals beyond their comfort zones and allows them to adopt a number of roles to gain different perspectives.

This is a whole body, immersive experience and that is the best kind of learning there is.
Tania Hector, Global Head of Learning and Development, Nestlé