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“Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day,” says the Dalai Lama, just one of many people who believe our day is heavily influenced by the way we start it.

The Dalai Lama would probably appreciate the concept of the chorei (pronounced cho-ray), then, because positive thoughts and positive energy in the morning are what it’s all about!

What is chorei?

Chorei is a traditional Japanese practice that’s still part of the country’s business culture, although its use has begun to decline. Many companies have adapted it to suit a more modern way of thinking.

Conventionally, it’s a short, stand-up meeting attended by everyone in the company first thing every morning. It’s designed to motivate employees and focus them on the company goals.

The emphasis is just as much on building up positive energy as it is on updating everyone on the latest news. It promotes collaboration and restates the company’s vision, usually within 10-15 minutes.

Typically it starts with a short greeting and motivational speech from the manager. Sometimes, a manager or chosen/volunteering employee will then review the day’s tasks or schedule. There’s often a group recital of the company motto or goal and/or a series of positive reinforcements. In larger companies, team heads will briefly report on their status and goals for the day.

Do the chorei your way

Companies around the world have adapted chorei principles to suit them. Some have abandoned standing up; employees gather together in a seating area or, in small companies, may stay at their desks. Some firms make the meetings a team-wide rather than company-wide event, or have weekly rather than daily meetings. Others have a rota so that each employee has a turn at leading the chorei.

At Digital Foundry, the management took what they had learned from working in companies with a Japanese business culture and adapted it to suit them. They began by instituting ‘morning stand-up’ meetings for project teams. Later, after their adoption of Agile Methodology in 2006, they began the ‘Daily Scrum’, which starts each team’s work day.

“Each team member gets a chance to state their achievements from the previous day, their tasks for the current day, and finish by pointing out any impediments,” they explain on their blog. “The superset of impediments becomes the primary task for the project manager immediately following the meeting.”

Leading the way

Leadership coach and consultant Katie Anderson visited the Teppen restaurant. It’s now so famous for its successful chorei  that it’s produced DVDs about it and often invites staff form other business to participate. She discovered how Teppen has changed the chorei concept to suit its vision, including call and response to practice important greetings (welcome, hello, thank-you, etc.).

There’s also an inspirational speech by the manager about a topic of choice for the day. Other techniques include:

Some companies have adopted ‘circle time’ ideas used in schools. This involved throwing a ball to someone else in the circle to signal it’s their turn to make a speech, state their goal or talk about what’s new in their life. It’s as much about team-building as it is encouraging positivity and productivity. Others include exercise or meditation in their morning meeting.

How do you start your day? Does everyone know what’s going on and what the priorities are? Do they feel listened to and motivated? If not, perhaps your own chorei is the answer (you don’t have to shout if you don’t want to!). If you’re in need of inspiration, you can watch Katie Anderson’s YouTube video and witness a Teppen chorei for yourself.

About The Author

Kara Copple

An experienced business and finance writer, sometimes moonlighting as a fiction writer and blogger.

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