Digital solutions are renewing leadership development

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Digital transformation opens up entirely new opportunities for learning and leadership development. Vitrolife Group, a company that has recently experienced significant growth, including a major acquisition, realized the urgent need to develop leadership within the organization. They decided to invest in a completely new type of leadership program where the solution is digital and agile.

I believe this is just the beginning of a development where we will see increasingly better, customized solutions, says Karin Koritz Russberg, who is responsible for Global HR & Sustainability at Vitrolife Group

- Vitrolife has been a rapidly growing company, which, like many growth companies, hasn't had the time to focus much on leadership. We could see that there were few in the organization who identified themselves as leaders; many of the managers were more 'operational'. The challenge became even greater in 2021, when we acquired another company, which resulted in us suddenly growing from 450 to 1100 employees. That company also had a history of strong growth, and just like Vitrolife, they had not worked much with leadership development, says Karin Koritz Russberg.

She and the former CEO saw a need to clarify what the company expects from its leaders. Based on the company's values, Karin wanted to give everyone in some form of leadership position the conditions to more actively reflect on their leadership and its fit within the group, in an exploratory way.

- I wanted to give people in the organization a clear picture of what is expected of them if they are to be leaders. We wanted to shape a more transformative leadership, rather than an administrative or transactional management. More leadership than management, one might say. It's about working with and through your employees, making them feel good, and continuously strengthening what we are already good at. Leadership should be a profession in itself, she explains.

Digitalization renews leadership development
In this vein, Karin Koritz Russberg came into contact with the company that developed Growloop, which specializes in digital leadership development. With their help, Vitrolife was able to develop a leadership program that met the company's needs. Thanks to the solutions from Growloop being based on the possibilities of digitalization, Vitrolife was able to start a tailor-made leadership program that matched the company's high ambitions – without disrupting the daily work.

- Our approach to leadership development has been given new and better conditions by our collaboration with Growloop. We are using the exciting digitalization, which creates entirely new opportunities for learning. The leadership program that is currently underway is based on a completely new setup. Previously, it was common in most companies to go away on a course, and then there were maybe three modules that lasted a week each, with three months in between. It was very nice, and you went home with a good feeling. But when you then came home again, everything was as usual, says Karin Koritz Russberg, and continues:

- In this program, learning instead becomes a daily habit, closely linked to daily challenges. You get to directly practice what you have learned. Learning becomes very accessible and simple. You can do a task whenever it suits you, just pull out the app and 'sneak in' the learning when you have time. It's a completely different approach than what we have done before, she says.

An agile approach
The leadership program that Vitrolife has developed together with Growloop consists of a total of twelve modules, which last 5-6 weeks each. Each module begins with a webinar, which is an introductory "flight" over the module's content.

Vitrolife has also engaged so-called local hosts among its leaders, and these call together a local cohort no later than a week after each webinar. It is a meeting that can take place either on-site or via Teams. The purpose is for local discussions to deepen the knowledge gained at the webinar. In addition, participants can also work in triads, meaning they work three and three to exchange questions, experiences, and progress. It's a voluntary element, and some choose to abstain from it. The program includes all just over 200 people in managerial positions in a total of 33 countries, regardless of previous leadership experience.

Otherwise, participants mainly work in the Growloop app, where they can delve deeper with the help of so-called assignments that Growloop provides. Participants can also, for example, record themselves or make their own notes about their reflections during the learning journey.

The finesse with this digital setup is that there are so many opportunities to learn and absorb. The idea is not to become fully learned at the webinar, but rather to create curiosity to learn with the help of the other tools. The proximity to the daily reality as a leader is very important," says Karin Koritz Russberg.

The digital setup means that nothing is set in stone; most things can be adapted to the participants' needs. In fact, not even the modules are fixed from the beginning – they are developed during the course of the program.

- That is also something that is completely new and unique with this program. We have created a completely agile approach. The idea is that the program should be embedded in daily challenges and integrated with the everyday work. So we have made three modules at a time instead of preparing all modules before the program started. Right now, the eighth module is being conducted, and we have just planned the final three modules. It is an extremely agile setup. I have never worked like that before, it's super exciting, she says.

Digital solutions are the future
For Vitrolife's HR management group, which acts as a steering committee, it has been important that the leadership program is not mandatory. It should rather be seen as a voluntary opportunity for the company's managers to gain insight into what Vitrolife expects from its leaders. However, all managers have been invited and encouraged to participate in the program, even those who only have 1-2 people reporting to them.

- Some of them later dropped out of the program because they don't see themselves as leaders in practice. And that was exactly what I wanted to address. If one wants to be a manager, one must truly want to be a leader. And even for those who want to become managers, it is completely transparent, because all the material from the program is available on our intranet, such as the recordings of the webinars. So, an employee who is not a manager but wants to become one can simply go there and easily access our view on leadership and what is expected, says Karin Koritz Russberg.

Vitrolife's leadership program, which started in the fall of 2022, will conclude with the last module in February 2024, so it is still too early to evaluate and see what results the program has led to. However, it is clear that it has led to a more active dialogue about leadership within the organization. And Karin Koritz Russberg is very pleased with the tools that the organization has gained access to. She believes that digital solutions are the obvious way forward in leadership development.

- I believe that we have only seen the beginning of it, Growloop is a super cool solution for competency development. It's flexible, and it increases accessibility and transparency. This is the start of a development where we will see increasingly better, tailored solutions. AI is also coming in, which provides further development. So I believe that leadership training will change a lot.

Vitrolife's Head of HR & Sustainability also says that she is very satisfied with the collaboration with Growloop, which has shown great commitment and customer proximity.

- It has been great! The customer focus they have had has been absolutely fantastic, they have been very responsive. To the extent that problems have arisen, they have tackled the problems with an extremely high sense of urgency to ensure we are satisfied. So it has been exceptional,  says Karin Koritz Russberg.

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