I have been playing Nobunaga's Ambition Taishi a lot recently and I must say what I like a lot is how it handles research. Every three turns you call in a council meeting and your various retainers make suggestions on where they think your faction should develop, be it in martial, economical or diplomatic matters. From those suggestions you pick a bunch which give different points for the various research topics which allow you to unlock them.
In 3K the council mechanic and reforms could be tweaked to work similarly, with council mettings providing bonuses for certain reforms. That would not only make the council something that's actually worthwhile to call in it would also make reforms less of an automatism.