The Yokoten Pay-Off

I’ve always taken to the basic Chinese proverb of: “I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand. “ It’s no surprise that even though many lean concepts are simple to comprehend and can be practiced in our everyday lives, it can be painstaking to sustain these practices. It’s even more of a test of patience to see a monetary return from your efforts. Yokoten is a term which literally (and simply) means to share best practices. It’s a Japanese term that roughly translates to “across everywhere.” By practicing Yokoten, (see, I’m doing it right now!) I’m going to share a story of a recent example of when I tried this technique and it actually paid off for me.

Recently, at my company’s holiday party, there was a raffle prize that allowed lucky recipients the opportunity to step into a “money machine,” which could (if fortune were to shine down upon you) prove to be a very profitable. I immediately became obsessed with the thought of standing in a closet sized enclosure for 30 seconds while reaching and grabbing for as many dollar bills that I could as a high power fan circulated the money all around me. As in most cases, I compromised with my wife by putting nearly all of our raffle tickets in the bins for many of the other prizes, which I will deem as “practical” items to win. Still, I couldn’t help but dream of the money machine. So through some careful convincing, I was able to put a couple of tickets in its drawing bin.

As the first few lucky winners took their turns in the machine, I watched carefully at their technique and paid careful attention to their payout. It seemed that most attempted to use their clothing as “scoops” to trap the money as it flailed around everywhere. In planning, this seemed like a sure-fire technique, but it just wasn’t yielding good results. Eventually, a gentleman (we can call him Jack, to protect the innocent) took practice with a different approach. Unlike all of the other recipients, Jack didn’t try to use his clothes as a collection devise, rather he was adamantly focused on maintaining his calm and trying different techniques before settling on one focused effort. At first it was difficult to confirm if his non-traditional approach had paid off. But after the total was confirmed, I was shocked to learn that he had gathered over 300% more earnings than the previous record holder of the night. Granted there had only been 5 or 6 to go before him, but come on - results are results! After Jack’s triumph, I watched as others went back to the common (but unsuccessful) method of attempting to use their clothing as a “money trap.”

Thinking the night would conclude before I could get the chance to take part in such an amazing activity, I finally heard the best sounding music to my ears - my name had finally been called. As I leapt with joy and immediately advanced toward the money machine, I started strategizing how I could scoop up the most money. I was almost to the machine and had chosen my strategy: to use my suit jacket as a scoop and rake in the most money. Just as I was about to reach the machine, the thought hit me, “WAIT!?!? Why in the world would I try a method that has been proven to be less effective? Upon the sudden realization of my undoubtedly lament strategy, I immediately turned around and headed for Jack. Being a fellow logistics nerd, I only had to say one thing to Jack: “Yokoten.” He immediately headed my way to give me the inside scoop on his record-setting strategy. He explained that I should lean slightly forward, while keeping my hands together and open with palms facing down. They would act as a backboard for all of the bills flying upward from the main fan. He hinted at the fan’s “sweet spot” for the best place to trap money. I employed this strategy and, after stuffing my pockets over and over, the results spoke for themselves.

Now I didn’t quite receive as high of a payout as Jack, but I maintained 2nd place with a 215% increase over the next closest contestant. Although I’m not excited about the fact that Jack gathered more than me, what I cannot forget is how 90% of the contestants tried an ineffective strategy that had proven its inferiority over and over again. Not to mention the fact that I nearly did the same, until I realized it would pay off to take part in Yokoten and share Jack’s best practice.

Written by Kevin Gross, Lean Logistics Team Lead at LeanCor

Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group

LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.

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