Having spent a good amount of time in Japan, I became familiar with the concept of HoRenSo, which is basically a way of data or information sharing that synchronizes actions about changing surroundings that occur in and out of an institution or firm. It is effectively practiced in the Japanese business culture. This arrangement is meant to fulfill requirements of those associates/members who expect some handy tool for distribution of information among them in order to attain a common objective.
Ho-Ren-So is a corporate mantra or abbreviation in the Japanese business world and is an acronym of “Hokoku” i.e. “to report”, “Renraku” meaning “to inform” and “Sodan” translating into “to consult”. It is practiced as the fundamental rule for business in Japan to conduct smooth business communication. Tomiji Yamazaki, the Ex-president of Yamatana Security Firm, introduced the concept of Ho-Ren-So. Every new employee is thrown into the Horenso atmosphere, as a part of training. It becomes like second nature to all workers who exercise Horenso on an everyday basis. It appears to be so basic – however, this concept is very hard to put into application not only for foreigners but also for the Japanese people.
When does Ho-Ren-So come into play?
- When one tries to solve a problem by himself in order to impress a senior or due to shyness.
- When one does not communicate information properly.
- When one doesn’t seek the right advice before making a judgment.
A little preparation on this type of business culture can go a very long way in easing some of these apprehensions. Specifically, for an Indian employee who whines on being meddled, it may be helpful to recognize the Japanese theory of HoRenSo.
How is HoRenSo different?
1. Group-ism as opposed to Individualism – As a result of group allocation and organization in the Japanese culture, information tends to flow within a large number of people and is shared on a regular basis which is opposite of what we encounter in other Western countries where employees are more likely to be individualistic, and they don’t feel the necessity to share information with other people. This may lead to misperception among workers and employees and clarity in work fades away. However HoRenSo can play a major role in removing all the confusion and builds combined effort of a team which is needed in a startup or a small company that allows almost all employees to work together as one.
2. Bottom-up vs. Top-down hierarchical system – The work pyramid in Europe or western countries might differ a lot, but mostly top-down hierarchies can be observed. This means that an employee habitually has to wait for his/her supervisor’s orders before doing everything. That is accurate for reporting. An employee only reports if need be or if the supervisor wants to know the progress, one will have to ask the employee. But in Japan, there is a bottom-up order, which means that the worker will report routinely to his/her superior without being requested. This makes the work flow easier and saves time which results in quick delivery of service. Giving equal opportunity to an employee and making him/her believe that his opinion matters just as much can result in better performance and lesser arguments within. This can help in inculcating the feeling of respect and loyalty in employees.
3. Process or Results – In western countries, people are less procedure oriented than in Japan, and westerners only report when the job is finished or if they meet a tricky situation that the employee can’t solve on his/her own. While in Japan, it is usual for all workers to keep their supervisor informed on the process through official or informal reports, during the course of the progress of the tasks allocated. Quick communication and taking notes from a supervisor and understanding how a chore needs to be completed has never gone to waste, this makes the problem clear and subsequently smaller with your head helping you out like your friend, making someone not just an entrepreneur but a leader.
It is vital for an entrepreneur to touch bases with all team members at all stages of a project implementation. Since most entrepreneurs almost always function with scarce resources, it is critical that the HoRenSo concept is followed diligently.
HoRenSo is most frequently practiced in Japanese businesses, but as a recipe for effectiveness and competence, almost any company – startup or established can take advantage of it. After all, no matter what their stage, they will always have projects that were to be completed yesterday, put just as much stress on quality, and have just as much need to put emphasis on client service. Lastly, HoRenSo is absolutely critical for entrepreneurs as it results in a deep collaboration between a Founder’s vision and that of his team – they share joint accountability and thereby, joint rewards.
Read more: BW