Well, let me start by saying – its GREAT to be back! After two years, a LOT can change from both a professional and personal standpoint, and I am really happy to contribute again!
To kick the conversation off, I’d like to talk a little bit about a concept called Nimawashi, which in the Toyota context means building consensus before taking definite action. Seems like common sense, right? Well, not always. Let’s look at a case study.
You have a major concept or breakthrough that you need upper management approval on, and you have to present at a decision meeting two weeks from now. What process do you follow in order to be successful at selling your idea? You decide to slave over a detailed presentation for the two weeks, sweating the event the whole time leading up to the actual meeting. The meeting comes, and you present your idea. At the end of your presentation, the questions start. VP number 1 asks you a doozy, but you get by with a good answer. VP number 2 asks you another question that came out of nowhere, and you weren’t prepared for it. You say the “I’ll get back to you on that, sir” line, and in the background you see the president looking at you with a skeptical look.
Needless to say… it didn’t go that well – you get the idea.
So how can Nimawashi help you in the above circumstance? The key enabler of Nimawashi is to allow you to build consensus on a topic before the major decision point.In this case, the decision point is the meeting. Using the concept of Nimawashi in the above example, before even beginning the presentation, your first priority is to make appointments with the key VP’s one-on-one well ahead of the meeting so that you can present your ideas. It’s a lot easier to convey a new concept on a person-to-person basis instead of a whole audience, and you can also take advantage of the time to allow for questions one-on-one as well. After a week of brief meetings with the VP’s, you now have a week to answer any new questions or tweak your presentation in order to make it perfect for the meeting. Now, when the event comes along, you have already “pre-aligned” your concepts with the key decision makers, and most likely they have already aligned with the boss (president in this case) as well. At the end of the presentation, it’s most likely that you will get a “rubber stamp” of approval – WHEW!
Now go ahead and implement that great idea!