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Nemawashi

By | September 2010
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(a)
“Nemawashi” is an agricultural metaphor. The idea is that before a farmer plants a seed, he should prepare the roots and the soil, so that the seed has the best chance of survival. It is a political process by which an unofficial understanding is reached before a final decision is made on a particular matter. “Nemawashi” is Bottom-up style decision making (middle management has the greatest influence on decision making). The Japanese are primarily concerned with harmoniously working out problems without causing interpersonal frictions, such nemawashi is employed as simply informal lobbying to gain consensus before action. A complete consensus is essential and this is achieved by using the process of “ringi”. Everyone stamped his chop on a piece of paper called “ringsho”, a formal meeting can be called to discuss the issue very formally. No one usually says anything negative at this meeting. Why?, this is largely due to the extensive preparation involving a lot of meetings before the final meeting. While vertical US system is top-down decision making, downward communication consists primarily of orders for implementation, and upward communication consist of reports on performance and accomplishment. Top management come up with programmed decisions, employees are to follow through. Nemawashi promotes Democracy for lower levels, encourages greater participation, decisions are met with general acceptance and it reinforces harmony within the company. Because an excessive number of meetings are held, involving an excessive number of people, the process is time consuming and can lead to lost business opportunities. Situation: Company worker identified a potential new client. Process: Important account information and an outline of potential benefit from acquiring the client is composed using a ringsho. This is passed to various departments to determine if the potential client matches each department requirement. For example finance/accounting (for credit...

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