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  • Writer's pictureAmii Barnard-Bahn

Boost your influence with this Japanese technique

Updated: Jul 7

Have you ever been blindsided by the lack of support for your proposal?

This kind of situation is frustrating, especially when you thought you had a winning idea.

A helpful solution to this problem is to hold a “meeting before the meeting,” where you informally meet in advance with key stakeholders who have the power to support — or squash — your idea.

The Japanese have a name for this – nemawashi (根回し). Literally transcribed as “going around the roots,” this gardening term comes from the practice of carefully digging around and tending to the roots of a tree to prepare it for transplanting. 

Nemawashi is a critical principle in Japanese business culture, as it refers to the informal process of laying the groundwork for any big change or new proposal. It involves quietly engaging with stakeholders to gather input and feedback early on, gathering support through informal discussions, and addressing any concerns. These principles are core to effective change management.

Here are five key steps to do this well:

  1. Identify Key Stakeholders: Make a shortlist of people who have the authority or influence

  2. Engage Early: Well before you make an official request for approval, meet informally with each member of this group.

  3. Actively Listen: Be curious and open to feedback.

  4. Understand and Respond to Concerns: Gain a thorough understanding of the potential risks in your proposal. Integrate the information you learn and strengthen, adjust, or scrap your pitch.

  5. Build Consensus: Through these conversations, enlist supporters to support your idea. Ask for their sponsorship in winning over potential detractors. 

The advantages of this process are numerous — higher quality business decisions, increased likelihood of commitment, smoother implementation, and greater organizational solidarity.

Let me know how this concept works for greenlighting your next big idea.

Leadership articles 

Layoffs are trauma-inducing for an organization and its employees. When handled badly, some people (and organizations) never fully recover. In this article, I share the six common mistakes leaders make when communicating layoffs (also published here in Spanish by Diario Gestión of Peru).

In a disturbing trend, regulators are increasingly prosecuting compliance officers for the misconduct of their companies. In this article for Compliance Week, I give a current overview of the liability landscape and practical steps you can take to protect yourself from career-killers.

In the News

Last week on Reddit, a woman shared her story of quitting her job after being denied a promotion. She had been the acting manager for 18 months, yet the promoted person had no management experience. Why did this happen? "She has a family to support and you do not," the company said — in writing. 😮 

Family status should never influence promotions or job  benefits. Transparent, rational decision-making builds healthier workplace cultures, and has the following benefits:

🎯 Increases employee trust that decisions are fair and merit-based

🎯 Strengthens employee retention 

🎯 Increases discretionary effort

🎯 Reduces inherent bias

🎯 Minimizes toxic political behaviors that occur when criteria for advancement is unclear

Thanks to Bored Panda for incorporating my Promotability Index® framework as the reference point for the 5 key elements healthy organizations use to evaluate career growth-readiness.

Promotability Workshop — The World Bank Group

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of conducting two global workshops for The World Bank Group in Washington, DC, on “The Five Key Elements of Promotability (and How to Perfect Them).” The first 90-minute session was held virtually for leaders from Nairobi to Jakarta, while the second workshop was in-person for DC-based leaders.

My Promotability workshop was part of a three-day leadership and career development program for mid-career professionals on how to excel, optimize opportunities, and have fun in their career. Reach out if you’d like to discuss a keynote, workshop or fireside chat for your team or organization.

Upcoming Events

New York City – June 24 & 25, 2024

Singapore — July 26, 2024

I would be delighted to discuss how we can collaborate to achieve your goals. If you are ready to take the next step in your leadership journey, please do not hesitate to reach out—I look forward to hearing from you.

To your success,


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