A Japanese process for reaching decisions by consensus
'Ringi' is a process used in Japanese organisations which ensures that all people who will be
involved in implementing a decision have a say in making
that decision in the first place. Ringi is a collective decision-making process involving the
circulation of a document (the 'ringi-sho'). This document is annotated and amended as it circulates,
and continues around the decision-making loop until everyone signs up to it using their own stamp.
The process is usually begun by middle managers who circulate the proposal to all relevant departments and colleagues. This 'bottom-up' process means that by the time the document rises to the ranks of the senior executives, it already has the support of all those whose agreement is needed and who will actually make it happen if it is approved. The function of senior management is to decide at a strategic level which of the proposals is most important to the corporation.
Obviously this is a meticulous and slow process, and does not appeal to the 'action-oriented' western manager who wants to see results quickly. However this Japanese process can be quicker in the long run by ironing out any potential problems at the beginning of the process and building commitment to the project. Whereas the western model is slowed down by solving problems as the project proceeds, the Japanese method results in rapid and smooth implementation after detailed planning.
Note: This web page is not intended to provide comprehensive coverage of the subject, merely a brief introduction to provoke thought and to lead to a more in depth understanding and application of the topic, either through further reading - or from me as your management consultant, executive trainer or personal coach in a consultancy project, training course, workshop or seminar.