A while ago I happened to have a meeting while pleasantly walking through the park. Since then I try, whenever possible, to avoid to meet in the office, for coffee or tea in a pub and choose a walk in the nature.
At the beginning I wondered what the reaction of the people will be. Would they feel comfortable enough and relaxed? My intentions were to improve the energy and mindset of the conversation by changing the environment. The studies show that the physical aspect of walking is beneficial to positive brain functioning. And recent brain and learning theories confirm that activities help in learning. This is also how Aristotle taught his apprentices.
You may say that for a time now GOLF has been doing the same. I know that corporate as well as military forces do different types of meetings all the time: at games, bars, gyms, parties. But my kind of a meeting is costless and beneficial at the same time. We all agree that a meeting should be done with an objective: to discuss business, to develop an idea, to connect with person. As an environment inspires connection among participants, the Nature is a perfect choice. It seems like a perfect setting for a possible win-win situation. And on top of it, there is a kind of a disarming element in Mother Nature that works for all of us.
There were some thoughts dedicated to those with health problems that may not be able to walk much or, how to suggest the participants to have a complimentary pair of walking shoes (especially women) or, on how many people could attend to still be a feasible meeting or, the climate impact such as: hot, muggy summers and cold, windy winters that all require and demand brevity. There was also the problem how to write minutes to consider – we all use same electronic devices in transferring data online, communicate via IRC, SKYPE and in a near future we will use holograms etc.
But clearly there are many ways to have a work done. We all are encapsulated whether in concrete, steel or glass. We miss fresh air, trees, nature. Already staying outdoors by itself is definitively a positive process and such a change of setting can infuse and awaken a team to have a more productive thoughts and summit.
An indirect way to influence a team to “think outside the box” is also to get them OUTSIDE. My research shows the simulative results: out of 2180 people more than 2/3 thought that the idea today can be considered innovative although it was used for quite some time in the past; one tenth of answers considered the idea unproductive and old-fashioned which made me feel challenged to find even a way with the help of the “opponents”; and lastly one fifth of them will try/follow the idea.
To conclude, if you still doubt it, I’d like to share Nilofer Merchant words “I’ve learned that if you want to get out of the box thinking, you need to literally get out of the box.”
Therefore why limit ourselves?