Heartstyles blog

Getting it out in the open: Heartstyles' experiential outdoor programmes


Ross Orwin – General Manager

Here, our General Manager, Ross Orwin, explains the ways we can use a change of setting to promote a shift in behaviours...

Co-founded by an experienced mountaineer, natural settings have been a big part of Heartstyles from the very beginning. But the outdoors doesn't just inform our thinking - we actually use it as a development tool. Accordingly, many of our three and five day programmes include a day of activities out in the elements...


It really depends on the group and what they're aiming to achieve, but we typically see two main outcomes from these sessions. For some clients, getting outside is a chance for their teams to put the concepts they've been discussing into action by playing through a constructed scenario. In other cases, we go down the exact opposite route, taking the chance to enjoy some inaction. Often clients just want their teams to take some time out from their regular routines - to stop and reflect on concepts rather than practice them.  

The former usually takes the shape of a gamified challenge - a task that will see the group co-ordinate their efforts - both mentally and physically. Naturally, solving the problem is only part of the point. The real aim is to practice staying above the line in a situation where the pressure is on, but the stakes are low. (And it's usually a good bit of exercise too).

The second approach is simply to give the group time to be together in a new inspiring environment, as well as a chance to collect their thoughts. After all, 'urgent' and 'important' do not really mean the same thing. And by taking the urgency out of life for a day or so, teams often find they're able to reflect on the things they've learnt and start to realise their true value.

Either way, getting out of a meeting room provides a great way to break up the programme. There's a lot of content to take in, and the change of environment not only deepens a group's understanding of what they've learnt so far, but also leaves them re-energised for what comes next.  


Whether the day consists of high-intensity problem solving, a challenging hike or a quiet woodland walk, we tailor the agenda to ensure that the group are able to complete it together. Of course, before even considering what the day actually looks like, we first work with the client to understand what their objectives might be and how we can meet them.

From there, we prepare our outdoor sites (which range from the Italian Alps to the Australian Outback) meticulously. In many cases, they'll be tried and tested venues that we've used on multiple prior occasions. If not, we work with expert local guides to ensure that everywhere we go and everything we do is appropriate to the fitness levels of the group.

Whatever kind of physical activity we end up planning, we also ensure the space is conducive to the mental activity the group will be undertaking - that of observing the behaviours of themselves and others in a new light.

Finally, we use a debrief to consolidate the insights coming out of the experience and work through some of the ideas it's provoked. And by then it's usually time for a hot shower or a cool beverage...


If you'd like to learn more about what we could do for your team, contact

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