A 2014 study at Stanford School of education is changing the way some corporations are conducting their meetings.
Instead of assembling the department heads around a board room table, they are distributing agendas for meetings coupled with invitations to meet in certain outdoor areas to have walking meetings.
The walking meeting may be trendy now, but it is not a new idea. In fact, it has roots as far back as ancient Greece when Aristotle founded the Peripatetic School of Philosophy. The school members gathered regularly in the Lyceum in Athens and they would walk and listen to Aristotle’s teaching and then exchange ideas and comments about them.
The new study by Stanford Professor Daniel Swartz confirms that Aristotle was actually ahead of his time. It turns out that the act of walking hikes up our ability to think creatively by 60 percent.
In other words, Swartz concluded, if you want to have a really simulating brainstorming session, you are much more likely to achieve your goal than if you invited people to sit around a table. You should walk slowly enough so that you can focus on your thoughts and not where you are placing your feet.
Walking meetings work best for small groups so that people can hear each other easily. It is a good idea to be removed from the heavy pedestrian traffic of a busy street as well. Moving the gathering to a nature trail is conducive to good communication and inspiration. If the weather is inclement, you can gather in a covered area such as a mall or a community centre with a walking track.
If you want to plan a walking meeting within your organization, ensure all participants have transportation to and from the location and time to get there. If minutes need to be taken, assign one of the participants to carry a recorder or to jot down the occasional note.
You can adapt the walking meeting to a larger group meeting, but in that case, it will break down into a series of smaller conversations shared by those who are walking in close proximity to each other.
It is a good idea to ask participants for feedback following the walking meeting to gauge how well it worked for the individuals involved.
This type of meeting may not be for every type of organization, but if you are hoping to spur some creativity, then a walking meeting might be for you.
Share with us your thoughts and opinions as well as personal experiences.
About the Author
Roz Bahrami is a blogger for SkyPrep, an online training software. Roz regularly contributes blogs related to corporate training, L&D, and marketing.