Yokoten – 5 Ways It Has To Be Used To Ensure Workplace Improvement

Yokoten is a very interesting management concept that has originated in Japan. It is a very important part of kaizen or a system of continuous improvement. The meaning of this term is ‘horizontal deployment’ but it can also be termed as ‘copy and improve’. What this refers to is the use of successful ideas in various areas of the company where they will be a good match. If Kaizen has resulted in a successful way of working in a particular area then the various things that have been learned from it should be used in other areas. Simply put, the company will save a great deal of time and effort by avoiding reinventing the wheel.

There is more to Yokoten than simply lifting a business process or a manufacturing process or even a design idea. A company that tries to use this tool without understanding it fully will not be able to get the desired results. How this concept works best is by:

– Ensuring that there is an atmosphere of openness in the organization whereby information regarding success and failure of particular processes is shared freely within different departments.

– Ideas should ideally spread horizontally by people seeing things for themselves. This tool does not have a top-down approach. However, seniors in an organization do have to point out various Kaizen ideas that employees will benefit from observing.

– The company should standardize all work processes so that solutions can easily be deployed when necessary.

– If a particular department cannot copy a specific best practice process then the thought process behind that particular successful practice should at least be used.

– Successful solutions should be adapted and improved in order to make them suitable for different work processes. Simply lifting ideas and processes doesn’t always work.

An organization that uses Kaizen to achieve and maintain high standards of quality and Yokotencustomer satisfaction will always give due importance to Yokoten; Kaizen is not considered to be complete until standards that are set are also offered to others so that they too can improve themselves.

Competition within departments is sometimes a big obstacle to the implementation of Yokoten. Companies sometimes put incentives in place to increase productivity and a team might therefore be unwilling to share its best practices because it doesn’t want to lose the incentive. This problem has to be addressed carefully so that employees develop a high degree of company and customer consciousness.

Bottom Line: Yokoten is a useful management tool to improve quality and productivity. Find out how to use it correctly.

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    The Benefits of Gemba Walk

    The word ‘Gemba’ is being increasingly heard across corporate board room meetings these days. With companies around the world trying to bring down production costs, it is not surprising that they are looking at systems and procedures that would enable them to do the same. Gemba Walks, which were once popular only in Japan, from where the concept originated, have now been adopted globally.

    There are several ways in which Gemba Walks benefit an organization. For one, it allows the managers to quickly identify problems on the shop floors. What this means is that all those small problems that could have proven detrimental to the production process can be plagued. In a way the process also helps in fostering team bonding among the various associates. Not only do they get to communicate on a regular basis with their senior officials but also get to share their point of view. Such brain-storming usually leads to proliferation of innovative ideas which could further help in boosting productivity.


    The Gemba Walk also forces managers out of their cabins and out into the shop floor. A lot of times managers are not aware of the practical difficulties being faced by associates on the shop floor. This in turn could lead to communication gaps. However, if the manager were to visit the shop floor on a regular basis, they would get first hand information on the problems.

    Another key, but often not mentioned benefit of Gemba Walk is the way in which it leads to psychological benefits. It shows to the associates that the manager who is talking the walk goes through the reviews on the ‘Visual Metric’ boards. By demonstrating his or her interest on the figures that are present on the board, the manager is in a way telling the associates that they are important for the progress of the organization and are playing a key role in the process.

    What this in turn does is to increase the focus of the associates. In several companies it is struggle to keep the productivity levels of associates’ high day in and day out. However, by encouraging them to come out   with their suggestions and by making them feel important, a level of motivation is achieved which in turn helps in keeping them focused on their jobs.

    However, managements of organizations need to remember that only the Gemba Walks are not enough to improve productivity. They are in no way a replacement to the regular production meetings. They are only complimentary to such meetings. A production meeting is the place where more serious issues can be taken up for discussion and results arrived at for the betterment of the organization.

    Moreover, managers who are undertaking the Gemba Walks need to remember that it is always better to criticize an individual in private rather than in public. While constructive criticism can be given, it is preferable that it is given in private rather than in full public glare. Managers could however praise their associates in public as it would only further motivate the individual to perform better.

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      How to Choose a Lean Consulting Firm

      Implementation of lean manufacturing processes seems to have done wonders for several businesses. This being the case, it does not come as a surprise that today almost every organization wants to implement these processes. The question though arises, as to how does one go about the process? The answer lies in hiring the services of a professional lean consulting firm.

      Online sources are perhaps the best manner to start searching for these consulting firms. You can also join a few online forums from where you can get information about good lean consulting firms. In certain cases friends or family members can be of help offering you insights into the competency of lean consultancy firms. The more the number of people you talk to the more are your chances of choosing the right consultancy firm. It is always better that you do thorough research before you choose a consultancy company.

      Make sure that you ask all the right questions before you choose a consultancy. A good consultant will not hesitate from answering your questions. In fact, you can find a lot of clues about the competency of a particular consultancy firm through their answers to your queries.

      Remember there is no use in hiring the services of a consultancy which will only do aLean Consulting superficial assessment. A good consulting firm will do a thorough analysis of your businesses and processes. They will literally go into every minute detail about your manufacturing process, before they offer you suggestions. Remember a good consultancy firm will always aim to get good word of mouth through professional service.

      You must be beware of consultants who will do an analysis, hand over a few suggestions, take their fee and then disappear. A good consultant will not only do a thorough analysis and give suggestions they should also be able to help your organization make those necessary changes. They ought to work with your employees and guide them through the various procedures that are to be implemented.

      Getting feedback from your own team is also important. Talk to all those who are in the shop floor about their assessment of a particular lean consulting firm. This will enable you to gauge the comfort levels of the associates about a particular consulting firm. Every level of your organization should be able to participate in the process.

      Remember a good consultancy firm will help mentor your team in the right way. The lean consultancy firm that you have chosen should be able to provide sufficient training to the team members so that they are able to implement all the procedures flawlessly.

      It is also better that you remain patient and don’t expect overnight results. Remember the right consultancy firm can ensure that they have suggested the right procedures and trained your team members. The next stage of implementing whatever they have suggested remains vested with your organization. While a lean consultancy may mentor you for a few days or weeks, but after that the entire initiative rests with the top management of the company.

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