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Peter Handlinger

Peter Handlinger: Is nemawashi checking the relevance of a solution and enriching it with key field actors, or simply promoting / enforcing it ? It is both – and which one is applied is dependent on your intent.

By Peter Handlinger, - Last updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

Nemawashi is a double edged sword.  Both edges work equally well. Which edge to use is entirely dependent on the intent of the person initiating the engagement.

I first came across the practice of nemawashi during new model launches. Especially during the (then) traditional sit down meetings to review project progress. Before we started to discuss and agree on the way forward, there was a tendency to every now and then “Shanghai” someone publicly. This, of course, leads to a spiral of retribution … and if that weren’t so debilitating on relationships and more importantly on getting the job done, it was actually quite amusing to observe – your local soap opera! Did nemawashi help in resolving this? Yes, undoubtedly. But it took a while for all of us share openly and present the facts fully. Another area of nemawashi experience is in the operational field. This relates to the concept of “Go and See” (aka Genchi Genbutsu). We found this much easier to do since the immediacy of the workplace tended to focus one’s attention. During PDCA activities, A3 making we all practiced the art of nemawashi with relative ease.

This is the ‘good, noble’ edge of the sword. But what about the dark side?

For my sins I did some time in the Group Training function during the turbulent transition years in our country. We were collectively crafting new skills legislation to give a meaningful framework to developing our human resources. During this process I was introduced to the world of Industrial Relations. Within this sphere of human endeavor is the concept of the separation of ‘consultation’ from ‘negotiation’. When does a ‘consultation’ turn into a ‘negotiation’? A very easy line to cross. To me the difference between nemawashi and lobbying is the awareness of that line between consultation and negotiation. And this awareness is enhanced by being honest about one’s intent (or purpose) – this only you can determine. Others may pick up quickly what your intent is and dis-engage. That would be your first signal that perhaps you are now in a lobbying / negotiating mode.

To answer the questions directly.
Can we reduce nemawashi to lobbying ? Yes, very easily.
Is nemawashi checking the relevance of a solution and enriching it with key field actors, or simply promoting / enforcing it ? It is both – and which one is applied is dependent on your intent.

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