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Nemawashi Master

by Randall Craig on December 13, 2008

Filed in: Blog, Business Development, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Management

Tagged as: , , ,

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 focused 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.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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