Why would anyone with not one but two MBAs from prestigious business schools under their belt feel the need to pursue the INSEAD Online Certificate?
Ask Andreas Beisswenger, and he’ll give you a simple answer: because the world is constantly changing.
Beisswenger is perhaps better attuned to change than most. His two-decade career has spanned diverse business management positions with multinationals like Daimler and SAP in Asia, North America, and Europe. More recently, he has pivoted to entrepreneurship. In 2017, he launched Simblexify, a soft-ware company that offers a novel, digital solution for collaborative, multi-stakeholder decision-making.
Making the bold decision not only to start up, but to do so within the highly competitive, quicksilver world of digital disruption, has brought Beisswenger face to face with a slew of new challenges – and one critical realisation: to innovate successfully and to lead change, he needed a comprehensive update and refresh of his own competencies. And a sense check that his business assumptions were on the right track.
“Simblexify is an idea I developed 10 years ago – that most business problems can be solved by more effective decision-making. But developing the software to digitize these processes took me completely outside my area of personal knowledge and experience.
I needed to work with fiercely-courted digital elites - the majority of whom belong to Generation Y, and they have a completely different approach to work and a different set of competences.
I realised I needed a course – something that combined strategy, digitisation and management – to confirm that I was going in the right direction.
An exhaustive search for the right learning solution brought Beisswenger to INSEAD in 2020. Specifically, it led him to the INSEAD Online Certificate – a bundle of three Executive Education programmes; three distinct learning experiences that collectively target a broader range of complex or interconnected needs and objectives.
“Originally I opted to do the Strategy in the Age of Digital Disruption programme at INSEAD as a standalone. But while the programme really pushed my horizons and expanded my understanding of digitisation and digital business, I realised that if I wanted to achieve a truly comprehensive digital mindset to tackle all of my challenges, I needed more than strategy alone.”
Developing the business further and optimising the talent working for and with the company meant two things, he says. First it meant building a digital ecosystem – partnerships and alliances to expand capabilities and drive growth. Then, he faced the challenge of creating what he calls an “innovation culture.”
“I understood that to achieve the kinds of goals I have for Simblexify, I would need the company to be a magnet for talent that is in very high demand. As a pioneer in the field of human-digital decision making you have to work hard at attracting, developing and retaining a cohort of digital elites who have different expectations than the ‘old school’ – young people who are looking to be part of a bigger cause, and who need to feel some kind of identification with their employer.”
INSEAD had the perfect solution, says Beisswenger. Two further programmes were ideally calibrated to his needs: Building Digital Partnerships & Ecosystems and Leading Organisations in Disruptive Times. What’s more, taken together the trio together would lead to the official INSEAD Online Certificate. It was, he says, a “no-brainer.”
“The bundle of three met every challenge I was facing. The first programme, Strategy in the Age of Digital Disruption, gave me the digital strategy insights and the confirmation that my thinking on decision-making was sound and on track. The second programme was game-changing in terms of helping me pinpoint and build the right alliances to develop critical content for the business, and ensure we can operate seamlessly from desktop to mobile.”
It also provided an interesting corollary to what Simblexify does, he says.
“Working with external partners and forging an ecosystem is akin to decentralising decision-making. There’s a dynamic about enabling different players to collaborate in complex decisions, and a breaking down of those decisions into constituent parts that mirrors what we are actually doing with our software. Building Digital Partnerships & Ecosystems really brought this out, and revealed the value that it brings.”
The third programme, Leading Organisations in Disruptive Times, brought the learning together beautifully, says Beisswenger; giving him actionable insights into how to create the kind of culture that will drive the future prospects of the company.
“You can’t achieve digital innovation without a change of culture and the programme really stressed the importance of this. It really challenged me to think about how to adapt the company to ensure we innovate more and that we stay attractive to the right challenge. And it summarised the learning journey really well, for me, in the sense that it gave it context.”
When you are developing something new and potentially disruptive, when you are innovating, you can be prone to a kind of hubris, Beisswenger says. There can be a danger of developing an “Icarus complex,” when it’s unclear who your competition is – or whether you even have any competition.
The INSEAD experience not only delivered the refreshed understanding and sense check he was looking for, by expanding his perspective and challenging his thinking, it has also taught him to guard against preconceptions and excessive confidence.
“INSEAD programmes incorporate an element of coaching, so that while you are learning you are also required to reflect on your own assumptions and to spend time on some very salutary introspection. INSEAD gives you the insights and frameworks you need to grow in your role or business, but not just that. It gives you the cure for over-familiarity and over-confidence. And as a learning experience, that’s invaluable.”