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Center for Creative Leadership

Leadership Development 

in the Digital Age

What might deliver of leadership development look like in the digitally connected age?


The Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL) is a top ranked global provider of leadership development with the mission to advance the understanding, practice and development of leadership for the benefit of society worldwide.


CCL has always explored uncharted territory, creating new methods, and increasing our knowledge of what it means to be an effective leader. The rapid advancements in technology had us asking ourselves the following questions: 

  • “How might we deliver leadership development in the digitally connected age?” 

  • “ How might we accelerate and deepen learning using technology?” 


Answering these questions would certainly involve exploring uncharted territory. With my co-founders, the ever strategic/tactical - creative/analytic Jerry Abrams and the consummate envisioner David Powell we conceived and built a lab to engage in this exploration.




The overall objective of the lab was to find, create and validate groundbreaking technology-based leadership development innovations that would result in new products, services and business models to advance CCL’s business and mission worldwide. The experiential demonstrations conducted in the lab were to inform the thinking and decision-making for CCL’s strategies and product/service development investments.




The lab was an enterprise-wide, cross-functional physical laboratory with the specific focus on “exploring the future” and “advancing the innovation culture” at CCL. It was a technology-enabled, flexible studio-like space where:

  • Experiments were run using new technologies and techniques within a simulated classroom environment.

  • New applications and technology-enabled simulations were tested.

  • Prototypes of new learning experiences were tested and evaluated.

  • New leadership development techniques were co-developed with CCL clients.

  • CCL faculty actively engaged with and adopted new technologies into their practice.

  • CCL’s innovation capabilities were showcased.




Over a period of several years a wide range of experiments were conducted. The were an exploration of the concept described by David Powell in his chapter “The Persistent Classroom” in the ATSD Handbook, Second Edition. The Persistent Classroom is the classroom reimagined as no longer bound by a date or a physical space, rather, as executive learning both synchronous and asynchronous, local and distant, primarily defined by an on-going, value-based relationship with their peers and the institution. The experiments were conducted in virtual worlds, on mobile devices, using CCL digital content, and social networks. User-generated content and the in-person learning experiences were captured on video for real-time participant feedback and follow-up research. The lab became a safe place for adventuresome CCL faculty to explore the potential and limits of using technology in their classrooms. It also showcased CCL’s advanced thinking to our clients, many of which collaborated with us on experimental new approaches.


Key Success Factors


The physical infrastructure of the lab was flexibility and mobile. Given the range of possible experiments we might run it was not possible to predict a single configuration that might be needed. 


The lab was equipped with readily available off-the-shelf technology such as Apple TVs, IPads, and handheld video cameras. This allowed us to keep the investment in the lab low and replicate the lab at other CCL campuses.


We had a conceptual framework - The Persistent Classroom – to inform and direct our experimentation agenda.

The willingness of lead users – faculty and clients – to engage with us in the work of ilab deepened our collective learning and ultimately the adoption of new approaches into CCL’s product and service offerings.

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