Having spent years working in a Toyota plant, I know how it ticks. But one of the skill’s that the team had there that I have yet to experience with
such commitment anywhere else is to perform a technique called Yokoten
The direct translation of Yokoten is “Across everywhere” or “Best practice sharing”
When a problem, be it safety, quality, breakdown or supply chain, occurs, firstly the problem is addressed, and the countermeasure is confirmed as good.
Then a very simple question is asked “Could the problem exits of occur somewhere else?” The Toyota production system then requires the team to religiously perform checks to find out the answer, as a matter of priority.
If the answer is yes, then the fix from the original problem is put in place in all locations that a similar potential problem, thus preventing a future issue occurring.
This is done, even if there is a cost or time implication, because the cost of a further breakdown or quality issue would be far greater in the long run.
The question is asked every time by managers at problem reviews. Importantly, no blame is apportioned; the philosophy is ‘to find a problem once, is good, it’s an opportunity to improve. But to find it a second time means the system has failed.’ The focus is on prevention of re occurrence.
When an A3 report is used, the final two question boxes as ‘does this issue exits elsewhere’ and has ‘Yokoten’ been completed. Only when these two questions answered, is the problem considered closed.
Yokoten is also strengthened through the regular departmental and Production Working Group meetings, which is made up of representatives of all plants and reports directly to top management, with careful attention paid to “Best Practice” at all the facilities.
This level of the use of Yokoten helps to ensure that all plants “level up” to the best performance in the group.
A very powerful tool to quickly improve a processes reliability, but it requires great commitment and discipline.