The Cultural Outdoors is a specific learning experience offered to groups of managers through the language of art, architecture and aesthetic beauty, through immersion in urban spaces and in the history of cities such as Venice, Siena, Florence and Rome. An experience of exploration involving all the senses, which touches the mind, heart and spirit. A true “voyage” of transformation: both personally and collectively for the group that takes part.
read moreread less
The Cultural Outdoors is an innovative and original method created by Hermes to encourage reflection, through artistic metaphor, on issues highly relevant to your company: how we exercise leadership, what promotes innovation, integrating groups and resources, how to create team spirit, what is the best way to develop the talents of your colleagues.
Cultural Outdoors can be used to create unique experiences for Executive Managers, Top Managers, Directors and Boards. But it is also extremely effective and absorbing for all employees and managers.
Specifically, the Cultural Outdoors method involves two phases:
1. time spent outdoors, in historic and artistic settings which offer powerful and universal cultural stimuli: enjoying profound aesthetic experiences, intended to encourage intuition and personal enrichment, to work on how we feel, perceive and internalise certain strategic concepts.
2. classroom follow-up sessions, in which participants complete analysis and debriefing activities, to connect what they have learnt, seen and experienced with their own professional situation.
The whole experience is led by trainers who are experts in both the themes and the languages of art, and on corporate needs and dynamics: in order to translate the experience into new individual attitudes and new behaviours, placed at the service of specific business objectives.
The most serene republic of Venice
- stimulating innovation
- opening an organisation up to the new
- breaking old thought patterns and actions
- managing uncertainty
- acting in line with new paradigms
- creating a strong vision
This longevity was the result of an ability to cope with change with great flexibility of thought and a strong focus on objectives. Venice is a “way of thinking”. An opportunity for participants to reflect on the conditions that create “flexibility of thought“, openness, the ability to accept new ideas without prejudice. On the inner qualities that serve to promote courage over fear; on the importance of giving ourselves permission to experiment and even to make mistakes.
The visit to the Palazzo Ducale and the story of how the Most Serene Republic managed territories and resources, men and relationships, is a great opportunity for reflection on the strategic importance of having a vision and how this gives us guidance, strength and courage to lead a group to generate innovation, even if it involves some unpopular choices.
But Venice is also a metaphor for uncertainty: after sailing on the Grand Canal, we invite participants to explore the districts of Venice by themselves, in search of places of significance for “innovation”, with only the help of a drawing, no additional information: a way of getting lost, literally, in the inextricable streets of Venice (the city is renowned for the fact that sat navs don't work there), a chance to explore, in somewhat chaotic fashion, the inextricable labyrinth of its physical space. An excellent metaphor for getting lost in the absence of specific directions, and looking for a new means of finding one's way.
Finally, a visit to the Guggenheim Collection at the Palazzo Venier, through the avant-garde art of the 1900s, allows reflection on what it means to really innovate. Modern art, with its language of breaking with previous canons, shows us what it means to have the courage to abandon old paradigms and ways of thinking, experimenting and finding new languages and original solutions. A parallel emerges with the role of managers today: in an age when the “old ways of doing things“ no longer work, but the new references are not yet there, it is the manager's job to have the creativity of an artist: finding within him or herself the resources to create the new, according to rules they discover along the way, in doing, day after day, everything they have to do.
The Italian Piazzas
- innovating every day
- reacting positively to change
- seeking continuous improvement
- integrating different individual skills
- encouraging the construction of languages and working styles that are shared and common
- promoting cooperation within teams.
In the classroom, we discuss the concept of the piazza and its evolution throughout Italian history: from the Roman Forum, to the Medieval and Renaissance piazzas, to the modern physical and virtual piazzas. Participants are then sent on a group “mission” within the urban space, to explore and observe certain piazzas directly, seeking to understand the context behind each piazza and the characteristics and needs of those who inhabit it.
The aim is for participants to design a new, original piazza, taking into account several criteria: they must design a piazza for everyone, where the community is recognised, that is, a piazza that is a “shared asset”; they must create a piazza that takes into account planning restrictions and that optimises the resources available. Finally, it must be a piazza which respects the existing social fabric and culture of its inhabitants.
The plans developed provide the material for the following debriefing, which activates profound reflection on what it means to create and manage something new: learning to listen to those around us, finding synthesis, promoting common solutions that encourage the cooperation of all, instead of the prominence of few.
Firenze - The Uffizi
- stimulating innovation
- opening an organisation up to the new
- encouraging change
- breaking old thought patterns and actions.
The Museum, in fact, the “place of the muse”: here dwell muses that in the past inspired artists to produce exceptional works of art and that, even today, continue to inspire new reflection in those who view them. Muses who inspire new thoughts and, over time, new actions.
Participants will learn about the role of the artists through different periods, in portraying what the ruling class wanted to celebrate and remember. But at the same time, artists had another important duty: changing and innovating languages and perspectives. In fact, thanks to what we might call “transgression“, intended as the artist's ability to interpret their own time in a personal and sometimes even provocative manner, art has been able to constantly evolve, developing some truly innovative ideas. A strong stimulus for reflection for those who, like your managers, are called upon daily to “produce the new“, often in difficult contexts.
Again with the help of some of the paintings in the Gallery, participants will reflect on the value of pieces created by “many hands“, seeing the elegance, perfection and total synergy that can be created between groups of people when they develop “team spirit“, reflected in their interactions, their culture and their ultimate goal.
Firenze - Footsteps of Brunelleschi
- managing and developing colleagues
- coordinating talent
- creating a strong vision of the future
- spreading that vision company-wide
- cultivating patience
The experience begins with a visit to Bonaiuto's frescoes, in the Santa Maria Novella Convent: paintings that represent the “Cupola fantasticata”, the Fantasized Dome, a dome which at the time was technically impossible, and, therefore visible only through the eyes of the imagination. Fifty years later, Brunelleschi would make this vision a reality: building the Florence Cathedral Dome, a highly futuristic work in terms of the construction knowledge of the time. Brunelleschi became the symbol of transition from vision into reality. We reflect on the importance of creating a strong, motivating vision, and on the skills we need to identify the right actions to transform that vision into reality.
But Brunelleschi is also an extraordinary example of a "manager" of time: the only architect able to keep open three sites simultaneously, completing all his projects and delivering them on time. How did he do it? He was always extremely clear on his objectives, very open to discussion and negotiation with clients but even more so with his team: Brunelleschi invented new working processes and production systems, which allowed him to transfer his knowledge to others, managing a large number of people whilst maintaining the quality of his results. He used delegation extremely effectively and, at the same time, created a strong shared vision.
That was how Brunelleschi created a work which went “beyond the limits” of his time: above all by reinventing thought processes and actions, overcoming existing habits and mental paradigms. An excellent opportunity for any manager to reflect on his or her role, and a push towards reinterpreting that role with renewed energy and creativity.
Bicocca: the celestial palaces
- harisma and leadership
- guiding through vision and values
- changing thought patterns and actions
- leadership in a time of crisis
Anselm Kiefer, the talent behind the installation, sought to express “the symbolic path of spiritual initiation of those who wish to enter into the presence of God“, erecting seven towers weighing around 90 tonnes each, between 14 and 18 metres high, constructed by assembling 85 corner supports in reinforced concrete and sections of freight containers. In this place of strong visual impact, participants discover the meaning of the Seven Towers: Sefiroth, Melancholia, Ararat, Magnetic Field Lines, JH&WH, The Tower of the Falling Pictures. Each tower represents an evolutionary stage in a process of personal transformation and internal evolution.
Getting inside an artist's "vision" is a way to connect to our own personal vision, that is, to get in touch with the fundamental questions that guide us every day (whether or not we are aware of them) and make us move around our world in a certain way: both as human beings and as managers responsible for the work and the results of others. Questions such as: what are my personal values, what defines my essence as a manager? How can I translate these values into concrete action and how often I can do it? How do I find new ways of thinking and acting at a time like this, where old paradigms seem to no longer work? Where do I find the inspiration and courage to do it? How can I listen more: to myself, my team and the world around me? How can I bring more "presence" and personal alignment to my daily actions, to be a more effective, more charismatic leader?
Taking a moment to reflect on these questions is a profound experience. And an effective way to return to work with greater clarity and more energy, bringing new life and new nourishment to our work and relationships.
Siena - The good government
- integrating top management teams
- personal ambition at the service of the common good
- enhancing shared cultures and values
- developing a strong vision as a basis for leadership
A visit to the Piazza del Campo reveals the ingenuity of Siena's hydraulic system (a city with a limited water supply but with a sophisticated distribution system to cater for domestic need): this provides participants with food for thought on systemic operation, directing their actions to achieve quality results and, at the same time, keeping costs low.
But the focal point of the experience is the visit to the city's Civic Museum to discuss the triptych by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, “Il Buon Governo” (The Good Government): this painting is a synthesis of the vision and values of those who ruled the city of Siena with balance and foresight during its heyday. It illustrates with strong visual impact what happens when personal ambition guides collective choices (Il Cattivo Governo, The Bad Government), leading to division and impoverishment for all. And, conversely, what happens when everyone decides to work for the common good (Il Buon Governo, The Good Government), generating a prosperity which arises only when energy and personal ambition are put at the service of a larger project that transcends the individual.
These "in the field" experiences are followed by reflection sessions in which the top management team draws parallels with their own company and with the strategies used daily in the workplace: what are the values which shape the "good government" of our firm? How can we create a common vision, as a basis to guide our leadership? How can we pass on this vision to our personnel? How can we generate wellbeing in our workplace? A great reminder for all top management teams of the importance of developing a strong "sense of us" and an integrated management system: to create shared feeling, in which the talents and objectives of each individual come together at the service of a common goal, resulting in excellent company performance.