One way to tackle tough problems: Take a hike. Literally.

by

Last week there was a day where my wife and I weren’t aligned. We’d had a tough week, we were exhausted from a day or work and taking care of kids. We knew there was a lot on our minds, but found ourselves having a tough time getting into the flow of problem-solving. So, we went outside and walked around for 15 minutes. Everything suddenly felt different. We were able to talk openly about what was tough, figure out some solutions, and walked back in the house ready for the next challenge (bedtime).

Walking isn’t a problem-solving technique we always think of to solve our problems. But it should be.

The Executives and product managers I work with usually have a lot of meetings. Product managers are a hub between design, development, sales, marketing, and customers. All too often we can get into a habit of taking every meeting sitting down. While some meetings need a presentation or require so many people you have to sit at a table, there’s room for creativity in other meetings, especially 1:1s.

Why you should have walking meetings

  • Some of my best work meetings have been walks. Your environment impacts your thoughts. Fresh air brings fresh thinking.
  • Research has shown that walking leads to more creative thinking and higher engagement.
  • When you can physically remove hierarchy (no one at the head of the table), it makes it easier to have a real conversation where participants contribute equally.
  • Doing something together gets you aligned. And it can be a key for aligning anyone (at work, in your family, in your marriage). When you do something at the same time as someone else, even if you aren’t in agreement, you’re aligned physically, which naturally makes it easy to align in other ways. And that helps teams move fast.
  • Many empowering experiences use synchronized movements: from worship to raves, yoga class to sex. Physical synchronization can also make you more persuasive (mirroring is a powerful tool to use during an interview). And walking forces that (in an appropriate way) at work.

Synchronization requires movement. You need to influence one-another to change. Product roadmaps do this for product teams, and walking meetings can do this for individuals.

So next time you need to talk through an issue, understand where someone’s coming from, catch up on how things are going, or just get in sync, take a hike. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ryan Seamons writes about more human approaches to modern management.

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