Using the Japanese practice of Nemawashi to “go around the roots” of your enterprise
You must prepare for your Social Business Software (SBS) rollout with people at many levels of the org chart, whether you’re creating an employee community, a branded online community, or one that interacts primarily on mainstream social Web platforms. Jennifer Bouani, Director of Interactive Communications and intranet manager at Manheim, did just that, using an approach similar to the Japanese practice of Nemawashi.
Nemawashi (根回し) in Japanese means 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.
But, to do this, you have to be connected well enough to get your SBS message delivered to the people concerned. (The irony of this doesn’t escape me.)
Here are questions that Jennifer likely answered when creating her Nemawashi-inspired communication plan.
Who do I need to convince? Why?
Example: The Director of Product Management, because her team needs to answer questions posted in the community by Sales and Service employees, prospects and customers. If they don’t answer them in a timely manner, we won’t meet one of our SBS objectives. And she must support – even reward – their efforts to do so.
What will SBS do for them or their team? What business processes or problems could it replace, reduce, improve, or newly enable?
Example: Product engineers and marketing managers can replace the many repeated questions they get via one-off emails, instant messages, and phone calls by spending that time instead answering the question once in the appropriate community. This will propagate their knowledge to more people with less effort. It will free up more time to deliver on the product management team’s overall business objectives.
How do I get my message to them in a way that they’ll actually listen?
Example: Our executive IT sponsor will ask the VP of Product Management for 15 minutes of their next weekly department call. He will briefly explain our overall SBS objectives, then I will describe why it’s important for the PM team to participate, what benefit they’ll get out of it, and what we need from the managers in order for this to work. I’ll share our rollout timeline for their group, and where they can get more information.
Do this for each key group that is critical to your initial SBS success.