Posted on July 3, 2016 · Posted in Leadership, Lean, Lean Thoughts, Toyota Principles, Uncategorized

















Toyota Principle #13: Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options; implement decisions rapidly (Nemawashi).


This Principle has multiple facets.

  • First, consistent with Principle #1, Principle #13 supports taking the long view. It suggests that one should not rush into decisions, nor should they seek quick fixes. Principle 13 style of decision-making takes patience, trust in your colleagues and in the process.  Lack of trust is probably the single largest deterrent to its use.

The Principle 13 style of decision-making takes patience, trust in your colleagues and in the process.

Let’s be clear, this slow process isn’t procrastination. It’s intended to ensure that all the consequences of decisions are fully thought through before implementation.  An attempt is made to understand every obstacle to success and eliminate them ahead of time.

  • Next, Principle 13 advocates involving all the stakeholders and seeking out their advice, often one at a time. Then, before progressing, reaching consensus on how the stakeholder’s opinion modifies the original decision. If a new modification changes a previous one, stakeholders are asked to continue to discuss the decision until they can reach consensus.

Involve all the stakeholders; Reach consensus.


Better to know the objections and work jointly to eliminate them, than to override those who have a different solution and lose their future support. We need look no further than the Obama administration to see how forcing YOUR solution poisons all further transactions with those of a different mindset.

  • By seeking the opinions of the other stakeholders, you are both showing respect, and heading off any opposition. By incorporating their recommendations into the decision, you are demonstrating the kind of “group win” that Lean espouses. In other words, you’re not looking for what is best for any one person or entity, but what’s best for the entire organization.
  • Nemawashi is a word that doesn’t translate easily from the original Japanese.  Quoting Wikipedia, “Nemawashi literally translates as ‘going around the roots.’ Its original meaning was literal: digging around the roots of a tree, to prepare it for a transplant. This process involves bringing the dirt from the new location, and introducing it to the tree, before the transplant, so the tree can grow accustomed to the new environment before it gets there.”

This introduction process in not intended to be swift. The whole point is to ensure success in moving the tree; therefore, the process is deliberate and takes the needed time. The same is true in using Nemawashi in business, with the dialog between colleagues being analogous to introducing the tree to the new soil.

  • With objections overcome, and obstacles removed, the approval of the decision is almost a foregone conclusion. Any vote is a mere formality, as all those voting have already weighted in and consensus has been reached.

Implementation is usually fast and easy.

  • As deliberate as the decision-making phase is, the execution phase is very swift. With obstacles identified and removed, implementation is usually fast and easy. Beta testing is typically done during the consensus-building phase as a way of identifying and eliminating obstacles. With testing behind them, implementation is much easier.

What often slows down the execution phase of projects are wounded egos. 

Stakeholders who weren’t consulted, and don’t agree with the approach, frequently throw up obstacles.   In the Nemawashi process, those leaders are consulted and their feelings taken into account; hence, obstacles are organic and minimal.