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Have you heard of Nemawashi? Neither had we until last year, but it’s a phrase that really made us think about how we can do and be more ‘nemawashi’ when working with our clients.

‘Nemawashi’ is a Japanese term that translates to “going around the roots.” It’s a Japanese gardening technique used when transplanting trees. The idea is to dig and prepare a plant or tree to be moved to another soil by individually digging each portion of the root system.

So how does this relate to business?

Nemawashi is also an approach that’s used by many Japanese corporates, like our client Komatsu, and is the process of quietly laying the foundation and gathering support and feedback before presenting to a larger group.

It can be done when introducing a business change, like a new internal comms platform, presenting new ideas like a thought leadership PR program, or getting a consensus on something like a new supplier. It is a process that can take some time and patience, and is not something to be rushed through.

This process can be important because it allows for a thorough understanding of the issues at hand, and ensures that all parties have a say in the decision-making process.

When employees or stakeholders are encouraged to offer their opinion or input, you may uncover ideas and insights that you hadn’t considered. Plus, your key stakeholders are given a voice, and the final decision that is made or presentation that is delivered is more likely to be accepted and supported by all parties, as they’ve had some input.

We may all be doing some type of nemawashi in our business already, but I encourage you to step back and think about the areas where you could apply more of it to more fully engage the stakeholders who are indirectly or directly involved in the decision making or final decision.

Engaging in nemawashi equals a business culture of collaboration and open communication – and that’s a good outcome for everyone.

Alex Williams