The Concept Driving the Pan-Asian Food Company Behind Sushi Donuts, Sushi Burritos, and More

November 8, 2019
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Communication has been transformed by recent technological innovations, but its critical role in business success has not changed.  All members of the team need to be able to ask questions, express concerns and share ideas, but not every company’s culture encourages and is responsive to the comments that may indicate problems.  Instead, many Japanese businesses place a higher priority on the concept of HoRenSo, a more open approach to the flow of information.  

HoRenSo is a portmanteau, comprised of the Japanese words houkoku- report, renraku- contact, and soudan- consult.  Each syllable is a reminder of how communication should move through the chain of command, with the intention of encouraging collective problem-solving and decision-making.  For Josh Onishi, CEO of Hana Group North America, it has also been a catalyst in growing his company’s Genji Sushi Bars to more than 300 supermarket locations around the country.

“As a large organization with people spread thousands of miles away from each other, we needed to instill a strong communication system to ensure that every location meets the company’s strict standards,” explains Onishi.  “Each sushi bar has an on-site chef, who we expect to report back about not only successes, but problems, questions and concerns as well.  They are our eyes and ears, and they come up with a lot of great ideas too.”

At its heart, HoRenSo keeps team members at all levels updated about what is happening in the company, good or bad.  It encourages, rather than penalizes, employees to report issues rather than assuming they can remedy them on their own.  By asking for help, people lose fear and build trust, potentially saving time in the long-run. 

Onishi notes 5 benefits of implementing HoRenSo communication in business:

  • Greater Innovation: the free flow of information and removal of fear from communication tends to inspire new and more collaborative ideas among individuals and across teams.  More people ask for input, keeping everyone moving forward.
  • Improved Teamwork: without the pressure to save face by solving problems on their own, employees will be more likely to consult with others and develop stronger solutions based on diverse expertise and perspectives.  By focusing on team success, the goal is shared. 
  • Quicker Problem Resolution: instead of an employee taking the time to solve a problem they don’t yet understand, they are encouraged to consult with co-workers and/or team leaders who may have already addressed a similar issue.  This means people are more likely to take action and learn from others’ successes.
  • Decreased Mistakes & Disruptions: when information flows freely, people are more open to collaboration and getting at least another set of eyes on their work.  Fewer employees will stand back, waiting and hoping no one realizes they were at fault.      
  • Ownership by Team Members: leaders should want their team to develop skills so they and the company continue to grow.  Trusting everyone to share in best practices drives a greater sense of responsibility over creating strong work product.


About Josh Onishi & Hana Group North America

Hana Group North America is the largest sustainable sushi retailer on the continent, energizing the world through high quality, Asian cuisine sold under its Genji and Mai brands at hundreds of retail locations across North America. Products ranging from sushi to ramen are made fresh daily, often onsite, by highly trained master chefs, using 100% sustainable seafood. The company is led by President and CEO Josh Onishi, a respected thought leader who has been asked to speak at various conferences, including the Seafood Sustainability Summit. In 2018, the Business Intelligence Group honored Onishi with its highest honor, naming him a Sustainability Hero.

Hana Group North America

1500 JFK Boulevard, Suite 725

Philadelphia, PA  19106


Linkedin:    /in/JoshOnishi

Twitter:      @Josh_Onishi
The Concept Driving the Pan-Asian Food Company Behind Sushi Donuts, Sushi Burritos, and More
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