The 33. Metaforum SummerCamp in Italy was quite differently from any other camp, realized since Bernd started the movement in the 1980s. People from all over the world – literally from Germany to Australia – joined a 3-week online congress. Our MDI Solution Developer Dominik Etzl shares with us the “3 Key Takeaways from a 3-week online congress” of this new and major virtual experience.

About the author

​Dominik Etzl is Solution Development Manager and Trainer at MDI Management Development GmbH and Managing Director of Metaforum International. His focus is on topics of digital transformation, as well as OKR (Objectives & Key Results), agile leadership and lateral leadership. His goal is to support managers in leading a valuable contribution to their environment: on an individual, corporate and societal level.

This summer in Europe almost all of our Metaforum SummerCamp courses were not realized as planned: normally around 900 people get together in the holy spaces of the monastery San Marco, in middle-age seminar rooms, with stimulating barefoot parties on the grass or by accidentally meeting long-time friends while queuing for the dinner buffet.

Of course, it was a challenge and sad that we were all not able to meet in person. But if you looked a bit closer, you could see something else, which had never been there stronger: The conviction, team spirit, and inspiration to create something new.

“Solutions lurk everywhere” (Bernd Isert)

During the first virtual Metaforum SummerCamp all participants joined forces, learned virtually from the slippers-wearing comfort of their living rooms and explored new methods of digital co-working with pioneer trainers such as Gunther Schmidt, Stephen Gilligan, Matthias Varga von Kibéd, Hans Hein and many more.

“A magic dwells in each beginning.” (Hermann Hesse)

What are the 3 Key Takeaways from a 3-week online congress


1. Take what’s working well and find an equivalent in the “new world”

Although the courses are at the core of the camp, it is not what makes it special. There is easy interaction with interesting people from all kinds of expertise, and a whole array of offers around the camp, like hiking up the mountain for a morning meditation. It is not possible to substitute everything in the digital world (e.g. hiking). But it is possible to find something which equally fulfils the function of the real-world activity. The function of a morning mountain meditation might be to consciously start the day with 10 minutes of introspective. Looking at this we offered an online activity-exchange board, where people could come together to organize meditations themselves. Or we created a digital replica of the monastery where people could take place at any of the tables to have dinner or a drink in self-organized virtual breakout-rooms.

2. Strike the right balance between structure & freedom

Every morning 08:35 – 08:50 am was started by a trainer-led collective check-in, where a trainer shared a knowledge nugget and enabled group exchanged. The trainers took turns, so each day there was a new face with new content. This worked very well. Our evening program (ZOOM-Discos, trainer interviews, and trainer meet & greets) also worked well – but had usually few participants (~15). Whereas in a physical camp many people are open to participate in evening-programs. Online most are happy to take the offscreen time, as it can get strenuous for the eyes.

3. The only constant in life is change – learn to grow with it

It would have been easy to skip the event in Italy for one year – and quite honestly, we would have saved us a significant amount of stress. When we decided to do the camp online/hybrid, we had no plan or example to look at. But it is in the times of hardship that forces start flowing stronger, carving new paths and enabling new learnings. The experiences made with systemic courses, connecting the physical with the digital world are invaluable – catapulting us further than we otherwise would not have reached in years. Often growths means taking calculated risks and walking into new fields.

If you also want to join the walk, have a look at the upcoming courses here.

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