In Japanese culture, there is a desire to avoid causing others to lose face. In business meetings, this often means that objections are not raised, and decisions are made apparently without a thorough discussion. While this is what appears to an outsider, the reality is far different.
The Japanese have a concept called Nemawashi. This is the process of laying the foundation for consensus by addressing issues one-on-one before the group meeting. The group meeting, then, becomes a final validation and the venue for public "buy-in" from the meeting attendees. When western-style meetings might end decisively, there may not be full buy-in. At the worst, bad feelings may cause participants to passively sabotage the goal. Time then must be spent monitoring progress/addressing new concerns.
While we may socialize an idea before a meeting, becoming a Nemawashi master means much more: It means the ability to develop the "right" solution by addressing the issues and requirements of key stakeholders beforehand. The meeting is then focussed on the nuances of execution.
This week's action item: Every time you meet with a group of people - and it applies equally at the workplace or at home - be a Nemawashi master. Explore the issues, lay the groundwork, and seek consensus with each individual beforehand.
Randall Craig is an expert on Career Development, Work-Life Balance, and Networking. For more information about how Randall can help you or your organization, go to www.PersonalBalanceSheet.com, or contact Randall by email through firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Copyright © 2007 Knowledge to Action Press and Randall Craig. All rights reserved.
Publication Date: December 11, 2007
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