The future is not what it used to be: COVID-19 has led organisations and individuals to shift focus towards rapid digital transformation to counter cross-industry tidal effects of pandemic

21 May 2020 dot 7-min read
From communication to collaboration to experimentation, AIA Singapore is leading the way in partnership with Hyper Island, embracing the new norm in the way they work - to make transformation immediate, impactful and focused on customer centricity in the next normal. 
Singapore, 21 May 2020 - AIA Singapore has partnered with Hyper Island to proactively engage with its entire employee base to embrace a culture of experimentation and innovation as part of its efforts to stay on the pulse of business and digital transformation, as organisations globally adapt to industry shifts as well as to meet customers' evolving needs.
Applying human-centred methodologies and leveraging advances in technology, AIA Singapore and Hyper Island have co-designed an agile collaboration programme titled - Digital Ei8ht - that moves beyond typical isolated two-day training sessions and workshops, to online live-learning sessions for employees to undertake transformation through experimental habit forming.
While other organisations struggle to move Learning and Development online, both organisations have partnered to deliver on the promise that - "we make learning worth doing"- rolling out a range of curated activities with a focus on doing, experimenting, creating, imagining and relating back to actual tasks, thereby creating genuine change in the way AIA Singapore employees work and think.
From the discovery process, the Hyper Island team came to understand that employees and managers do not change if their leaders are not role-modelling and supporting. Change happens through the adjustment of habits rather than knowledge or processes. With the full support of the Members from the Executive Committee behind the programme, AIA Singapore came together to role-model new habits and routines.
Undeterred by the current climate, more than 1,000 AIA Singapore employees were onboarded via online live-learning sessions, a bespoke structured learning pathway that is routine-focused, where learners receive a combination of Agile challenges and Design Thinking techniques to practice new experimental actions. A constantly evolving stack of digital tools such as video conferencing, drawing boards, and the use of a proprietary Hyper Island chatbot, were integrated to gamify learning, invariably ensuring that employees remain engaged throughout.
Unlike traditional business schools who share hypothetical case studies as a medium to teach, Hyper Island put AIA employees through its paces with internal briefs; actual tasks that need to be completed. From 'learning by doing', an active environment for employees to widely share knowledge within the organisation was born, new concepts and ideas started to flourish, and cross-functional teams interacted with greater regularity to solve problems.
This learning pathway totalled more than 20 hours of online training and assessments covering the below set of competencies and knowledge:
  • on-the-job, real-time learning and practice - spread over eight weeks online (with repeat practice);
  • creation of a community for learning and sharing - a combination of individual and group tasks that are completed online via Workplace by Facebook;
  • implementation of Hyper Island proprietary chatbot facilitation - that delivers instructions, tracks engagement, scores data and nudges learners;
  • training in self-leadership in each session - learners independently inculcate an experimental mindset and come up with new ways to support their teams' development;
  • gamification of tasks completion - all learners are kept extrinsically motivated through the scoring of points via healthy team competition;
  • infusion of tools and techniques - the programme supports distributed work and builds trust within the teams who are not physically present;
  • intervention by leadership - access to a dashboard that shows individual and team engagement and scores which allows leaders to reward and challenge respective teams.
Championed by Aileen Tan, Chief Human Resources Officer, AIA Singapore, said: "Since the start of the year, we have seen numerous business models evolve and customer demands intensifying. AIA Singapore stands by our promise to our people, with developing their skills as an integral part of our commitment. Sealing our leadership in this economy requires us to embrace new norms by harnessing a culture of innovation and teams with the right resilient skill sets, all with a key focus of putting our customers at the heart of everything we do. The Learning and Development faculty of our organisation takes a long-term approach to ensure that the right support for our employees is in place today, not only to get through this challenging period, but to be better placed for leveraging unique opportunities in a post-pandemic economy."
Hyper Island's proprietary gamified learning pedagogy successfully started a movement within AIA to think constructively about the future and to cultivate a culture of experimentation. It has led to the ideation of over 3,500 concepts and the testing of over 19 prototypes to date.
Melanie Cook, Managing Director (Asia Pacific), Hyper Island said: "It is important to remember that the future is shaped in the present. We outlined the importance of shifting workplace practices to meet employees' needs in times of volatility and provided AIA Singapore with the tools and techniques to do so. Instead of discussing methodologies, we focused on habits, language and challenges, so that learners subconsciously practice Design Thinking or Agile ways of working through gamified learning. Collectively, embracing these initiatives are testament to AIA Singapore's commitment to change and developing its people, and we are inspired by their desire to raise the competencies of their staff."
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About AIA
AIA Group Limited and its subsidiaries (collectively "AIA" or the "Group") comprise the largest independent publicly listed pan-Asian life insurance group. It has a presence in 18 markets in Asia-Pacific – wholly-owned branches and subsidiaries in Hong Kong SAR, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Mainland China, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan (China), Vietnam, New Zealand, Macau SAR, Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar, a 99 per cent subsidiary in Sri Lanka, and a 49 per cent joint venture in India.
The business that is now AIA was first established in Shanghai a century ago in 1919. It is a market leader in the Asia-Pacific region (ex-Japan) based on life insurance premiums and holds leading positions across the majority of its markets. It had total assets of US$284 billion as of 31 December 2019.
AIA meets the long-term savings and protection needs of individuals by offering a range of products and services including life insurance, accident and health insurance and savings plans. The Group also provides employee benefits, credit life and pension services to corporate clients. Through an extensive network of agents, partners and employees across Asia-Pacific, AIA serves the holders of more than 36 million individual policies and over 16 million participating members of group insurance schemes.
AIA Group Limited is listed on the Main Board of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited under the stock code "1299" with American Depositary Receipts (Level 1) traded on the over-the-counter market (ticker symbol: "AAGIY").
About Hyper Island
Hyper Island is a creative business school with consulting services which enables individuals and organisations to see, understand and act upon the opportunities created by digital and technological evolution. Hyper Island supports you to change your tomorrow by sharing competence and creating confidence through collaboration, creativity and innovation.
Founded in 1996 in Sweden, Hyper Island now works with individuals and businesses in London, Manchester, Singapore, New York, Sao Paulo, Stockholm and Karlskrona. In addition to fully bespoke programmes for organisations, Hyper Island offers a range of educational options from 3-day intensive courses to a fully accredited master's degree programme.

AIA Contacts:
Joanna Ash 6530 0863 Email:
Dawn Teo 6530 0875 Email:

Hyper Island Contacts:
Virginie Pontruché

Hyper Island's proprietary gamified learning pedagogy successfully started a movement within AIA to think constructively about the future and to cultivate a culture of experimentation. It has led to the ideation of over 3,500 concepts and the testing of over 19 prototypes to date.