September 2018 | Nano Tools | Strategy
Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.
Contributors: Thierry Malleret, PhD, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, The Monthly Barometer, and Christopher Maxwell, PhD, Senior Fellow, Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management.
Enhance creative decision making and solve problems while walking.
Leading decision makers are increasingly recognizing that not only are walking and working compatible, but that walking actually improves business outcomes. The CEOs of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are following in the footsteps of Aristotle, Freud, Truman, Darwin, and Beethoven — all of whom took extended walks during their work days. Frédéric Gros, professor of philosophy at the Institute of Political Studies, Paris, notes in his book A Philosophy of Walking, “It was not just that walking was a distraction from their work. It was that walking was really their element. It was the condition of their work.”
The benefits of walking meetings, walking breaks, and even short walks around the office or on a treadmill include sharpening the mind, dispelling doubt and procrastination, releasing beneficial endorphins, and encouraging inspiration and creativity. Beyond the ample evidence of these physical and mental benefits, recent research now demonstrates that walking physically alters the brain, improving its plasticity and promoting the creation of more brain cells. Epidemiological studies conclude that walking protects the brain from cognitive impairment. These findings endorse what Nietzche asserted over a century ago: “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”
To use walking to improve business outcomes, including coming up with more and better ideas and enhancing decision making and problem solving, consider the following five options.
“Can a Simple Walk Improve Your Creative Thinking?” Thomas Ward Ph.D., Psychology Today, Mar. 8, 2017.
“Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking.” Oppezzo, M. & Schwartz, D.L. Journal of Experimental Psychology (2014) 40 (4).
“Exercise Training Increases Size of Hippocampus and Improves Memory,” Erickson, K.I., Voss, M.W., Prakash, R.S., et al. PNAS (2011) 108 (7).
Nano Tools for Leaders® was conceived and developed by Deb Giffen, MCC, director of Custom Programs at Wharton Executive Education. Nano Tools for Leaders® is a collaboration between joint sponsors Wharton Executive Education and Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management. This collaboration is led by Professors Michael Useem and John Paul MacDuffie.
Subscribe to the Wharton@Work RSS Feed