In Japanese culture Nemawashi is an informal process of quietly laying the foundation for some proposed change or project, by talking to the people concerned, gathering support and feedback, and so forth. It is considered an important element in any major change, before any formal steps are taken, and successful nemawashi enables changes to be carried out with the consent of all sides. The word means preparing the soil for transplanting a tree from one area to another, so that it will live. Nemawashi in business is preparing people’s minds to accept an idea. It is consensus building.The Japanese have very different ways of conducting business meeting. Before a formal meeting starts, participants have already drawn conclusions regarding information to be presented at the meeting. This system was developed to avoid discrepancies, and gain agreement from everyone in advance, when making a decision in formal meeting. It is also to keep the relationship harmonious. Nemawashi is best used to let people of differing opinions have time to adjust their opinions. When the principles of nemawashi are put into effect first, people have the time to adjust opinions beforehand without wasting time. The main fear people have of nemawashi is its use in politics. People are worried that decisions are sometimes made behind the scenes, instead of out in the open. It is therefore seen as an undemocratic process.

2 Replies to “Nemawashi”

  1. good read! I had forgotten the Japanese term for this concept. I think this is very natural process in any teamwork environment. When used properly can help easy transition of people in big transformation projects.

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