Yokoten is a Japanese term roughly translated to “across every,” and is also referred to as “best practice sharing.” In the toolbox with other Japanese terms, Yokoten is the practice consisting of replicating effective practices laterally from one area to another. It is important to note Yokoten is not the practice of copying or benchmarking exactly; rather Yokoten is the method of copying successful strategies and improving upon their implementation. Effectively practicing and implementing Yokoten will help an organization’s Kaizen efforts by continuously improving processes.
Yokoten was adopted by Toyota as part of the eighth step in their Toyota Best Practices – standardizing successes — to describe the horizontal information sharing of effective solutions and reworking them with a dash of kaizen. Yokoten can also be used after identifying and solving a problem, look for similar problems in other departments that could benefit from similar solutions. In the PDCA cycle, businesses can use Yokoten in the last stage, Act. After a policy or project is considered successful, it can be translated across departments.
The idea of Yokoten is to not only increase Lean practices in the workplace but fosters quick and effective communication between departments and different areas of the facility. Time will be saved as the decision-making process is sped up and Lean strategies can be implemented quicker. Practicing Yokoten is essential for long-term Lean success, but it does require active participation from managers.
Managers and leaders will need to keep documentation of the results of Kaizen projects and policy changes to determine what actions should be translated to other areas in the facility. Additionally, going on a Gemba walk to see and recognize good work is important for identifying good work that can be presented to other areas. Managers will want to include and engage team leaders and follow up on Kaizen projects in order for Yokoten to be successful.