Instil a journey mindset for Activity Based Working

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Instil a journey mindset for Activity Based Working

Article by Shoko Kishida, Senior Workstyle Consultant

To explain the concept of Activity Based Working in Japanese, there is one word that is always difficult to translate: “Journey” which directly translates as “Tabi”.

It’s a word that appears frequently in our Document (proposals etc). Let me explain how we use this word. If I directly translate it into English it is as follows:

“We will support your journey to a New Way of Working”


“They have realized that in the transitional journey to ABW it is required not only a change in the physical environment but also in the behavioural change of their employees to adapt to the New Ways of Working.”


The translation doesn’t quite fit as a Japanese word. I feel like we could just use “journey” as it is, but it still doesn’t ring true. There’s a katakana word in marketing parlance called “customer journey,” and I feel like it comes close to the meaning of the word. However, most of the time I tend to translate it as “process” in Japanese or “process” in Katakana which is often used in business Japanese. If you translate it as “Journey towards ABW,” you probably won’t get the point across. In any case, it’s not easy to translate.

Why is the word “journey” used so often at Veldhoen+Company?

I found some valuable research that solves my long-standing question in It’s the journey, not the destination: How metaphor drives growth after goal attainment. A fascinating study by Huang Szu-Chi and Aaker Jennifer, of Stanford University, on what ideas (metaphors) are effective for growth and continuation after achieving goals. By “post-achievement growth” they investigated whether people can temporarily participate in a program such as dieting or walking, and then continue the same behaviours on their own after the program ends.

From their study of 1,600 people, they found that those who were given the Journey Mindset were more likely to continue their goal-oriented behaviours than those who were given the Destination Mindset i.e., the mindset of having arrived at their destination. In other words, the study demonstrated that changing the focus of people’s metaphors i.e., focusing on the journey rather than the destination portion of the completed pathway, can result in different perceptions and behaviours.

Based on this it could be argued that having a mindset of “what I’m doing now is a process (journey) for a greater (or better) goal or purpose” rather than one which focused on the achievement of the destination, that will lead to further growth and achievement. (Note: Research has identified “personal well-being” as a major goal, so I’m not sure if this entirely applies to businesses (organisations).

This “Journey Mindset” is essential for the success of Activity Based Working, which we advocate at Veldhoen + Company. This is because changing the way we work is a journey without a clear end. Of course, there is a contractual end to the duration and scope of the services we provide to our clients. But even after our services, the “program” ends, the customer needs to continue the same behaviour on their own. And that is because, as the earlier quote says, “the transformation journey towards Activity Based Working requires not only a change in the physical environment, but also a change in behaviour to embrace a new way of working”. In changing behaviour, our services are just a trigger. It takes a long journey to embed Activity Based Working even after the program ends. And in order for each of us to continue on our own journey, we need to have a journey mindset that says, “What we’re doing now is a process for a larger purpose”.

On the other hand, business needs a clear “completion” or “goal”. Without it, the “scope of the contract” will not be clear. For example, if you take out the tangible elements necessary to achieve Activity Based Working, such as space and IT infrastructure, we still have the ongoing behavioural change element. Simply put, once the construction is complete, it is complete. A business cannot exist without a “clear purpose” (such as a contract or goal). That’s why I can’t find a translation for “journey” – “something without a clear end” – and why it feels like an unnatural Japanese word in a business context. (It’s probably a matter of personal ability, too.)

We tend to be preoccupied with a “straightforward and short-term objective” destination mindset. At the same time, we expect others to change something, including ourselves. However, to experience change, it is essential that we participate in the program and continue to do so ourselves. We would like to be aware of the mindset of the journey with a larger goal in mind.

In the end, I can’t find a good translation for “journey,” but I will continue my journey.

If you could think of a good translation, please let me know.


Reference thanks to:

Article written by Shoko Kishida, Senior Workstyle Consultant

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