Yokoten is a Japanese word, which is roughly translated to “best practice sharing.” In Yokoten, the terminology Toyota is adopted to capture an idea of a horizontal transfer of knowledge and information across the certain organization. It encourages the idea to share information across the organization. Yokoten is also one of the winning behaviors of Toyota, which copy and improve on Kaizen idea that really works. Toyota is calling Yokoten as part of the business philosophy since it is precise compare to the ‘sideways expansion’, ‘horizontal deployment’ and ‘copy’.

How Yokoten is done in Toyota?

Instead of waiting for the Kaizen information to get up to the chain of command, by which it can be sent back down into another location to copy and learn from, the Toyota members are encouraged to go and see for themselves, and then return to their respective area to add their own idea to the information that they acquired. The role of the senior executives is to make the members aware of the existence of a good example of Kaizen, so that they can see everything for them, gain knowledge about the learnings and enhance that idea even further.

Simply by telling the subordinates to copy it can be like Kaizen a little, but it will not serve as second important factor of Toyota Production System, a respect for and the development of people. Toyota has learned that is not enough to just copy the result of a good Kaizen, but they must also copy the thinking that is resulted in a good Kaizen.

The Business Practices of Toyota

Within the eight practical problems solving procedures, which are known as Toyota Business Practice or TBP, the activity in Yokoten happens in eight simple steps.

  1. Clarify the existing problems
  2. Break down the existing problems
  3. Set a target
  4. Analyse the problem root cause
  5. Develop a countermeasure
  6. See the countermeasure through
  7. Evaluate the process and the results
  8. Standardize the success and learn from the failures

Basic Yokoten Requirements

There is another phrase in Japanese that is associated of building the Yokoten culture, which is called as “kaze toushi” means “wind blowing through” or “ventilation,” but may also refer to the openness or easiness of certain communication process across the organization. Basically, when this ventilation or flow of information is poor at stage, Yokoten is not happening.

Whys Use Yokoten in Your Organization

Yokoten is an essential factor or part in a long-term success of a lean culture, but can also have a bigger impact for the short-term result. It is known as a success multiplier. Perform a good Kaizen and copy the results, then learn from it and adopt it whenever and wherever it is applicable. After you successfully done this in your organization, you can immediately duplicate or even multiply more the impacts. The same true thing in lean because there is no assurance that it will grow on its own on the future. You need to exploit Yokoten to help assure that you continue to become lean to the near business future.

— Slimane Zouggari