Leaders in today’s complex, globalized world need a “wider knowledge base”. In view of the exponential growth in the amount and type of knowledge required, the Aspen Seminars for Leaders – Aspen Institute Italia’s take on the Aspen Executive Seminar program in the US – are a unique tool for bolstering skills and knowledge. They offer the crucial breadth of perspective required to address strategic challenges in a hypercompetitive world.
The seminars are intensely interactive forums designed to update attendees’ cultural and professional backgrounds, seeking to fuel not only an exchange of ideas on strategic issues but also stronger interaction among the leaders’ professional and personal profiles. Rather than supplying ready-made solutions, they set out to provide the kind of open forum for debate that is more necessary than ever for a business world which has to deal on a daily basis with often conflicting interests, values and cultures.
The Ingredients of a Winning Formula
Aspen Seminars for Leaders have specific features that make them unique both nationally and internationally. These features can be summarized as follows:
- Several seminars are held at once, on different issues, and a high level of professional content is maintained throughout.
- All the various seminar participants join in shared activities and opportunities are provided for personal reflection and discussion.
- The number of participants in each seminar is restricted to approximately 30 highly-qualified national and international figures.
- The informal atmosphere and uninterrupted attendance on the part of participants encurages frank and lively debate.
- Working sessions take place behind closed doors to ensure confidentiality, and any members of the press attending do so on a strictly personal basis.
- Participants are assigned a small number of select readings prior to the sessions that provide a common conceptual background.
The Aspen Seminars for Leaders are also open to non-members and are generally held each year in venues renowned for their pleasant climate and natural beauty. Attendance is by invitation only and a fee is charged.
The Socratic methodology adopted in the Aspen Seminars involves a discussion led by one or more moderators, who are tasked with maximizing the effectiveness of the debate and the exchange of experiences. A number of pre-prepared speeches by initial commentators offer participants diverse and innovative points of view with the aim of helping to stimulate a varied, frank and open exchange of views.
The readings – a selection of carefully chosen texts that encourage discussion and instill a desire for in-depth analysis and debate – are an important element of the seminar methodology. Far from being extraneous to the day-to-day experience of today’s managers, these texts and the discussions they trigger help enhance a leader’s ability to analyze and to cope with increasingly complex global situations.
Communication and the Media
Work takes place behind closed doors. Any media representatives attending do so in a strictly personal capacity. The Institute occasionally grants exclusive coverage to national TV networks and press sources.