By Jon Miller | Post Date: March 25, 2007 6:31 PM | Comments: 3
Nemawashi is the building of support for a project through advance communication and consensus. The Japanese term nemawashi (根回し) comes from "to dig around the roots" in order to prepare a plant for transplant. Without proper nemawashi, a bonsai tree transplanted to new soil may die.
Many people first hear of nemawashi in the context of Hoshin Kanri (policy deployment) which is a fact-based approach to planning and tracking breakthrough objectives. As awareness of the Toyota Way and its elements become more mainstream, the mention of nemawashi as a management behavior has increased.
In business how many projects die because ideas were transplanted to minds that were not prepared to nurture them? The only place I can think of in the U.S. where nemawashi is practiced regularly is in Congress, where the passage of laws requires the support of a certain number of votes and lawmakers spend time and effort to gain support for their ideas.
Like much of kaizen, there's nothing mysterious about nemawashi. It's not a science (though you could take a scientific approach) or a 12-step process. If you have a project that requires decision and support, here's how to get started with the art of nemawashi:
Create the project document. What is the current condition? What are the root causes? What is it costing us to do business this way? What are possible countermeasures?
Review the project document with people. Do this in person (in many cultures doing this individually will yield better results than review in groups). Ask each person if they understand the current condition, the root causes and the actions proposed. If you are a leader, prepare to listen and teach but resist the tempation to justify or explain.
Rewrite the project document. At this stage the document it is no longer a proposal as such but a summary of what has already been agreed by those who influence and make decisions in the organization.
Meet to decide formally to support the project. This should take less than an hour, including time for questions and clarifications.
There are three main benefits to the nemawashi process:
1) You will have a better understanding of the current condition as people challenge the initial assumptions and results of root cause analysis
2) It creates ownership for the project because others have had a chance to influence and shape it. People support what they create.
3) Time waste in meetings is eliminated or replaced with time doing nemawashi.
Nemawashi is best done in the project design phase or Plan phase of PDCA. How long should this process take? Probably as long as you need to make sure the project will be successfully transplanted in the minds of the people who have the ability to nurture or neglect it. The more that people in positions to influence significant change practice nemawashi, the greater the chance of success will be for these changes.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.