Also known as Horizontal Deployment and Sideways Expansion.
Variants include Suggestion System.
A Best Practice is that practice that has been proved to produce the best results consistently. It is the best-known way of doing something and has the potential to be replicated internally and externally. Best practices normally represent creative solutions to common and everyday problems. Having a best practice program in your company is a fast and effective way to share Lean and continuous improvement successes and accomplishments. It allows to highlight the many innovations and creative solutions that are currently in place throughout the company and beyond.
Yokoten is a Japanese word that means best practice sharing across functions and businesses to improve processes and performance. It is thoughtfully sharing of successes, experiences and best practices which could be useful to others. The Yokoten approach was originally created by Toyota to make everything better for everyone so that the whole company benefits from great ideas. Toyota expects that in order to complete any Kaizen process, it needs to be concluded with a best practice sharing.
Yokoten is a two-way exchange of best practice information between two entities. Entities can learn from other successful entities by adopting their best practices and integrating them into their processes without the need to reinvent the wheel. Entities can also develop and share their own best practices and innovative ideas. Sharing and copying best practices will duplicate the success and directly impact the bottom line of the business.
It is not enough to copy best practices exactly as they are. Teams must adapt and improve the practices to fit their own needs.
Best practices should be documented before being shared with other teams. The basic elements of a best practice often include the initial condition or problem, the solution to the problem, and the benefits obtained after implementation. Other information can also be included such as the most closely related process, whether the best practice is a mandatory or recommended, relevant drawings, before and after photos, and any other information useful to communicate and replicate the best practice.
Best is not always best for everyone. Every facility is different in some way in terms of goals, regulations, culture, environment and technology. Before you decide if the practice is a best practice and not just a good or normal practice, ensure that it complies with the criteria defined by your company. Companies must determine and agree on a certain set of criteria for their best practices. Common examples of criteria for best practices could be cost-efficient, unique, useful, practical and sustainable.
The use of technology including databases and intranets encourages documenting, submitting and sharing best practices between teams, departments, and divisions. It enables teams on the opposite side to access and implement best practices in their own areas in an easy manner. Information and notice boards are also effective ways to post best practices so that everyone can see, learn, and reflect.
Example – Manufacturing Environment
The following is a documented best practice that was created by an operator in a manufacturing company.
Other than products, services and processes, Yokoten can be applied to best results and successes that are related to working conditions, health and safety, and organization culture. Yokoten can also be applied to failures as well as successes. Generally, we tend to hide our failures from others and then no one learns from them.
Everybody can benefit from the successes of others. Developing a best practice program for your company is an integral part of becoming a world-class performer in your industry. The more you can do to promote the creation and sharing of great ideas within your company, the better your performance will be in the long run and the more engaged your employees will be. You need also to consider what other world-class organizations are doing to become even more innovative and competitive.