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Nemawashi – A Smart Way to Keep Your New Idea ALIVE

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Nemawashi – A Smart Way to Keep Your New Idea ALIVE

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an IC pro?

One of the most valuable I’ve heard is to push the boundries, take risks, be brave.

Of course, behind those risk taking, boundary pushing acts of mettle sits a bold new idea and one of the biggest challenges is rooted in helping that new idea to thrive. And there’s a very smart place to start….

When we discuss this potentially fragile stage of an idea’s life, there are certain approaches we favour. One of which is to master the art of ‘laying the groundwork’ for your new idea, making sure it’s welcomed and embraced. It’s a powerful communication strategy and one that is often overlooked, because when we have a brilliant new idea, we want to rush in and shout about it from the rooftops! But before you do – STOP! And consider a new approach – one that couldn’t be further away from haste and rooftops…

The strategy is known as Nemawashi

Nemawashi (根回し) literally translated means to ‘dig around the roots of a tree.’

In Japanese it is described as “an informal process of quietly laying the foundation for some proposed change or project, by talking to the people concerned, gathering support and feedback, and so forth. It is considered an important element in any major change, before any formal steps are taken, and successful nemawashi enables changes to be carried out with the consent of all sides.”

A recent discussion on the IOIC LinkedIn group (that happens to be packed with top advice – take a look), entitled ‘Advice to a new Head of Communications’ raised this very point.

Having brilliant new ideas is what keeps progress happening. The mistake is in presenting those ideas cold because busy people generally don’t enjoy surprises and this can be what stops something great from taking off. Nemawashi means carefully cultivating the core of your idea, preparing it to be developed and progressed and introducing other thoughts and ideas that will help it to grow.

Giving people the opportunity to digest an idea before it is formally presented is a crucial factor in whether it will thrive or die away.

So, next time you’re having a meeting to discuss a great new idea, chat it over first with people individually, let leaders in on the secret so they have time and space to absorb and accept it without feeling they’re the last to know. This provides them with the chance to feel valued and included and gives you an early opportunity to gauge reactions, tailor your thoughts and fine tune your proposal.

It’s a great way to build relationships with leaders and create new processes for future plans and ideas. People will respect you for taking the time to discuss it and you’ll likely get some valuable advice in the process too. It’s a win-win strategy!

“The guys at Alive understand the complexities of our business which means we don’t need to explain the detail of every project or design piece – they’re already on it, which keeps things moving and delivers the results we need.”

Emily Stoten — Head of Marketing, Selecta

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha — Tata Consultancy Services

“So glad that we chose Alive to create our new website. As well as taking the time to get the visual side of our requirement right, they worked with us to understand us, our business and our clients and reflect this across the site. We loved their flexible approach, which, coupled with the right level of challenge has replaced our old, clunky site with one we can be proud of. ”

Victoria Ford — Perago

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q