By Richard Eason, CycleFox Founder. This post was first published on Medium.

Over the last 12 months I’ve ditched boardroom meetings and traditional conferences and replaced them with things like white water rafting in the French Alps, hiking along the South Coast of England and cruising on a bicycle along the River Thames.

The primary purpose of all these events has been to help generate great business ideas. The connections, new perspectives & fun I’ve had in the process were all awesome, but secondary outcomes.

White water rafting

Whitewater rafting as part of an ideas week at Alptitude

Walkshop along the South Downs with the Happy Start-Up School & Unknown Epic

Walkshop along the South Downs with the Happy Start-Up School & Unknown Epic

Riding along the River Thames during an Ideas on a Bike away day

Riding along the River Thames during an Ideas on a Bike away day

 

Ideas are central to our work. Whether we demand them of ourselves for our own projects, or our bosses or clients demand them for theirs.

So in the busy world in which we can live, what can we do to help us cultivate our ideas? Well one thing I’m now convinced by is that the best ideas don’t happen here:

The best ideas don't happen here

The best ideas don’t happen here

 

But there is an alternative. Here are 6 reasons why I think getting outside will help you develop better business ideas.

1. Moving helps you think

It’s not suprising that sitting in a meeting room getting bum ache doesn’t get the ideas flowing. Research has shown that the physcial act of moving can help you think better. A recent (2014) study from Stanford University concluded that:

“When there is a premium on generating new ideas in the workday, it should be beneficial to incorporate walks”.

2. Visual variety helps stimulate your mind

With just the 4 walls to stare at, there is very little to fire your inspiration. Leaving the office will help stimulate your brain to think in new and creative ways. It could be a mountain view or a cityscape, the outdoor environment will help you feel alive.

3. Allows some brain space

Trapped in one room together, even a brief moment of silence can prove to be awkward. These gaps are often swiftly filled by someone, whether the input adds value or not. Outside things are different. It’s more natural for a pause in discussions as you wander through a forest or glide on a bicycle along the river bank. These mini incubation periods provide the brain with some space to help process information and make connections, which can lead to better quality disucssions.

4. Sharing experiences strengthen bonds

Sitting around the boardroom table isn’t an event. Getting outside and building your idea sessions around an experience will help engage everyone in the process. The group involvement leads to increased collaboration and with everyone feeling like they’ve contributed, the ideas are more likely to transfer to positive actions.

5. You can unplug & focus

It’s too easy to get distracted in the office. To keep conected to e-mails, or for others to pop in and interrupt the flow. Getting outside provides an opportunity to unplug. This allows everyone to focus on both the discussion and the people who are in the group. I like to think of it as ‘mindful idea generation’.

6. Because you’ll be happier

So we can be stuck in the stuffy office, or spend time outside breathing in the fresh air. I believe that if your idea sessions are based outside, built around an enjoyable activity, those participating are likely to be happier than if trapped indoors. A study featured in the Havard Business Review showed that:

“when people work with a positive mind-set, performance on nearly every level — productivity, creativity, engagement — improves”.

Why not try it?

You might think all this is nonsense. That’s ok.

But if you think there could be something in this, turn this idea into action and give it a go. You could experience a week of ideas and connections in the French Alps by applying to attend the next Alptitude, or some other adventure in the Dream Valley playground.

If you’ve a little less time and are near to London, book an ideas on a bike event. Or consider a walkshop down Brighton way with our pals at Unknown Epic.

At the very least, try leaving the office for your next ideas session and get outside with your team – even if it’s just a walk around the area where you work, start moving and help the ideas to flow.

Ideas on a bike sessions can be delivered across London. Bring your team / clients or book as an individual and join other business owners / start-up founders. More info at www.ideasonabike.com

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