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Ringi system in Japanese companies
The ringi system is a unique way of coming to consensus about new ideas within Japanese companies. It is based on widely held consultations among different level managers on new ideas or projects. The ideas are usually proposed by the lower rank managers who have operational responsibilities. The concept would then be discussed among the same rank personnel and once having reached the consensus it would be passed to the next level of managers, where it would undergo the same procedure. After such broad consultations the proposal will reach the top management, where it would or would not get the final approval. The system has to layers, one is the official one which contains the ringi – sho (the approval document to be signed by the superiors), the other one Is the so called nemawashi, which is the process of discussions and support gaining from the staff before the official decision-making takes place.
The ringi system is deeply connected with Japanese culture and its traits such as the need to work in unison, harmony and most of all a team. The ringi system allows the group to make their opinion explicit and thus, once the project is approved it gains many “fathers” – people, who will support it. The broad consultations in the lower level allow the higher management to keep face and to make the decision seem wise in the eyes of the inferiors. The other aspect is the fact that if something goes wrong the whole team is responsible, and not just an individual.
The system is however time-consuming and may in some cases may change the ideas in such a way that ultimately it may annihilate the most brilliant and innovative parts of a given project . The urge to gain approval of all levels of management may also cause that new ideas will lack the necessary flexibility and thus the organization will not be able to react to the changes in the surrounding as fast as...