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By: Cristina Marini

Today we’re going to look at a super simple (but extremely useful) concept. Originally from Japan’s Toyota Production System, Nemawashi has the literal translation of ‘going around the roots.’

What does this mean? Basically, it refers to laying the groundwork or a  foundation and building a consensus. 

In Japan, Nemawashi is used as the first-step in the decision making process. 

What does it entail? Nemawashi doesn’t require much effort at all. All it involves is the project/change supervisor sharing their plans and involving all employees in the process. The aim should be to build a consensus of opinion amongst employees before any significant decisions are made. The supervisor is actively seeking the opinion of all employees on any key decisions and developments.

Nemawashi is crucial to work-life in Japan. Most officials expect to be advised on developments prior to a meeting and, in-fact, consider it an offence when they are not.

The Japanese are certainly right to take this approach — Nemawashi has plenty of benefits. It builds a strong consensus amongst employees, allows for a formal introduction to a proposal or changes, a way to hear the input of everyone, and enables the supervisor to gauge the reaction of employees.

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