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Utilizing Hiking Meetings to Spark Organizational Innovation

Why is it that when organizations meet to share information or brain storm, they often go into a room, shut the door and sit around a table to look at each other, often for several hours? Sitting for long periods of time, in addition to being unhealthy, also makes it difficult to stimulate the brain. A desired outcome of meetings often is new and fresh ideas. Trying to develop outside the box ideas while staying in the box called the office, does this really make a lot of sense? Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” To generate innovative ideas, why not put people in an environment that is conducive for helping to stimulate the brain, and enhancing creativity? Nature is just this sort of place.

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Olympic National Park, Washington Photo by Mark Ellison

Scientific research has shown that hiking in nature can enhance creativity and IQ, and improve attention capacity (Kaplan & Kaplan, 1989). These are all benefits that can help create a more dynamic meeting environment and organization. Hiking meetings can be utilized to help invigorate organizations. A hiking meeting can include discussion while on the trail, with breaks along the way to talk in more detail when needed. Time for individual reflection in nature can also be used to help generate ideas to bring back to the larger group. Meeting in this type of environment can also help build organizational cohesion that can impact team morale.

The more important ingredient of meeting in nature is perhaps the health benefits associated with spending time there. Meetings that help an organization move forward while also offering mental and physical health benefits that  lower blood pressure, impact type II diabetes, and increase natural killer cell activity that fight off tumors and disease, promote employee health and organizational health.

Take your meetings outside into nature this spring for a hike. Going on the “trail less traveled” may help your organization find the innovation and spark it has been lacking.


Kaplan, R., & Kaplan, S. (1989). The experience of nature: A psychological perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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