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Utilizing a combination of autoethnography and visual ethnography, this presentation will synthesize four concepts capturing the relational essence of Aikidō’s process of keiko. BeWeDō is a new way of co-creating possibilities to guide leadership development and design leadership within collective creativity.
The experience economy (Florida, 2002) presents both enormous challenges and opportunities. It demands leadership development perspectives that involve engaging with others to co-create leadership, and is particularly pertinent to design leadership. The associated blurring of traditional design domains, and the changing context of collective creativity, demand leadership development approaches and perspectives which involve engaging with others to co-create leadership.
While leadership development remains a contentious issue, a range of more inclusive models of leadership are now emerging that adopt a more social and relational view of leadership as a collective process (Crevani, Lindgren, & Packendorff, 2010; DeRue & Ashford, 2010; Gagon, Vough, & Nickerson, 2012; Roberts & Coghlan, 2011; Taylor & Ladkin, 2009; Uhl-Bien, 2006). Basadur (2004) echoes this and argued that “leadership has less to do with matching the “right” traits or behaviors to the “right” situation and more to do with how leaders involve others in thinking together in innovative ways” (p. 103). The context of collaborative practice, according to Sanders and Stappers (2008), “will change what we design, how we design, and who designs” (p. 11). This means reconsidering design as a problem-solving activity and redefining design leadership as an exploratory enquiry in which understanding emerges – a ‘leadership of possibility’ (Adler, 2006).
One approach to understanding and reflecting-in-action (Schön, 1983) on existing disciplinary experiences, is by exploring other pedagogical approaches to leadership development – such as the Japanese Art of Aikidō – to embrace and reflect on how we think instead of purely what we think.
This paper makes the following contributions:
–– I describe how using an ethnographic approach to explore Aikidō provided compelling experiences of a relational leadership process (Uhl-Bien, 2006), which inform a distinctive leadership development experience pertinent to design leadership.
–– The initial research findings have been synthesised into “BeWeDō” – a new way of ‘co-creating possibilities’ to guide design leadership within collective creativity, and also have wider applicability to leadership development.
Through a combination of autoethnography and visual ethnography, the Art of Aikidō provided compelling experiences of a relational leadership process (Uhl-Bien, 2006), that can be used to develop a distinctive kind of design leadership skills. In Aikidō this process is conveyed by the Japanese word keiko which Lowry (1995) defines as “to train, to practice, to learn, or to engage in” (p. 25). The research identified four concepts that captured the essence of keiko’s ‘movement practices’: ‘zanshin,’ ‘hipparu,’ ‘extension,’ and ‘common center’ (core concept). These findings have been synthesised into the “BeWeDō” model to capture the collaborative ‘essence’ of keiko: ‘Be’ (zanshin), ‘We’ (hipparu), ‘Dō’ (extension) and ‘common center’. ‘Be’ (zanshin) is personal space involving relational awareness. ‘We’ (hipparu) is a relational space embracing open-ended synchronizing. ‘Dō’ (extension) is a situational space – leading through connecting. A ‘common center’ is the interconnected nexus: “one center point” bringing people together. The findings indicate that Aikidō practice offers a compelling experience of the co-creation process through relations between the body, space and movement. BeWeDō is a new way of ‘co-creating possibilities’ to guide leadership development and design leadership within collective creativity.