Law Firms Need to Use More ‘Nemawashi’

nemawashiThe Japanese can teach us about decision-making and successfully implementing change. They use an approach called Nemawashi, which roughly translates as ‘smoothing around the roots before planting’.

Toyota has pioneered the use of nemawashi (see

Basically the nemawashi approach involves:

  • Focusing single-mindedly on client needs
  • Consulting staff to consider all the options

This approach builds consensus and commitment to the initiative. It allows time for people to adjust their opinions. It’s the exact opposite of the approach adopted by most of the candidates on The Apprentice!

Research shows that most change projects in western cultures fail to achieve their objectives. The reasons attributed are because:

  • the change is imposed from on high, resulting in those engaged in implementing the change not being committed to it
  • a lack of clarity as to the vision behind the change
  • people not knowing what first steps to take
  • people not having the skills or knowledge to implement the change
  • leaders not modelling the change in behaviour, so others don’t see the change as important

If firms adopted more nemawashi, I believe change projects would be more successful.

This entry was posted in Leadership and Management, Managing Change, Strategy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Law Firms Need to Use More ‘Nemawashi’

  1. I really appreciate the application of Japanese psychology to every day life. Thank you for sharing. I have been studying how to be more decisive and make great decisions for change and found your post here on Looking forward to more inspiration from you.

  2. tonyreiss says:

    I agree Madeline that we can all learn from approaches adopted in different cultures – proving we can keep our minds open!

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