Massey lecturer returns from Japan with fresh thinking

Mark Bradford in a BeWeDō workshop.

Mark Bradford leading a BeWeDō workshop.

Senior design lecturer Mark Bradford has recently returned from a trip to Japan where he presented his BeWeDō research – an approach he describes as like “yoga for communication”.

“The BeWeDō approach is a dynamic new way of transforming conversations – with movement,” he says. “During BeWeDō people utilise physical movement techniques and talk simultaneously to share perspectives and generate collaborative opportunities.”

Mr Bradford completed his PhD thesis, BeWeDo®: Co-creating possibilities with movement, at Massey’s Business School in 2016. His interdisciplinary research highlighted how practicing the movements of the martial art of Aikidō can facilitate leadership development for co-creation.

At the invitation of Dr René Carraz of Toyo University, Tokyo, Mr Bradford led a BeWeDō kenkyukai (research seminar) for students from all over the world. “The workshop offered me a wonderful opportunity to gain cross-cultural research insights from participants representing Japan, China, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia as well as the United States,” Mr Bradford says.

While in Tokyo, he also presented his research and led a BeWeDō kenkyukai with staff at international design and consulting firm IDEO Tokyo. “IDEO Tokyo invited me to visit their studio because they were ‘interested in learning new and creative ways of brainstorming and co-creation,’” he says.

According to one participant, BeWeDō “movement helped us stay away from serious talk and helped us come up with wild ideas”. 

Since 2016, Mr Bradford has led BeWeDō kenkyukai with more than 425 people in Slovenia, England, the United States, Japan and New Zealand.

His interest in physical movement for communication led to him taking up Aikidō ten years ago, but he no longer trains in the art. “I liked learning Aikidō, but I really love what I found out and applying this knowledge through BeWeDō instead.”

He believes BeWeDō has a lot of potential to unlock issues facing society. “I met a professor from Osaka City University who has applied for funding to bring me to Osaka next year to develop some BeWeDō experiences and link up with their executive MBA programme for health/social care professionals and managers.

“For me, everyone can be creative. Japan has a huge health problem - it's an ageing demographic and they don't have enough people to work in the health sector. So my contact is seeing whether there are opportunities to explore, and whether there's a new way of communicating within the Japanese health system.”

Currently, Mr Bradford is consulting with companies like Deloittes and OneTeamGov, and is looking to collaborate with Massey colleagues.

“My goal is to try and create dōjō-like experiences in the same way Aikidō can, to make an impact on people's lives. I'm looking to find researchers within Massey to collaborate with on how BeWeDō movement practices can bring people together to nurture relational potential, and to explore how small moves can set big ideas in motion!”


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