A Japanese word that roughly translates to best practice sharing across an organization. The sharing can be successes, learnings, concepts, ideas, policies and experiences that may be useful for others. Also called horizontal deployment.
Many organizations communicate up and down within their “silo” (department or division), but forget to share across the organization into different groups and departments.
The benefit is to seek out or share ideas with others, then to reflect on how those ideas can be utilized or leveraged in their own area, not just to replicate the idea exactly.
Toyota began the practice many decades ago, when their managers, leadership and engineers traveled to the United States to learn from leading American manufacturers, which became the foundation of the Toyota Production System.
Toyota also encourages their suppliers and partners to share what they learned. An example is the work they did with the nonprofit SBP. After reducing the time to rebuild homes from 116 days down to 61 days, they practiced yokoten by sharing their story in the book, “Getting Home.” They also coined the term “yokotwenty” in the book, as a way to give back even more (twenty versus only ten). They have also expanded their organization and best practices to other devastated communities.
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