From small errors in our daily lives to big business blunders, mistakes happen. And whether it is a dent in our pride, damage to our reputation or a hefty financial payout, they rarely come without a cost.
As I write, I am still recovering from the harsh burn of one such mistake. Less than 24 hours ago, I paid the relatively large price for the simple but silly error of selecting the wrong date for a return flight. This was not done through lack of experience but, as with the most painful of all mistakes, through too much experience. As a frequent flyer, I complacently clicked through the booking procedure and rushed past the online check-in, not once considering the possibility that I could have made such a simple error.
What made the mistake truly sting was not the cost of rebooking or the embarrassment incurred, but the knowledge that this was all avoidable.
Mistakes happen, but they don’t have to
By their very definition, mistakes are avoidable. In fact, there is an entire Lean technique dedicated to mistake proofing.
Known as Poka Yoke in Japanese, Lean Mistake Proofing is the removal of potential for errors by putting in place foolproof procedures. Examples of such smart solutions born from this mindset are all around us; from three pin plugs that make it impossible to incorrectly plug in electrical appliances to smoke detectors that sound a persistent and unbearable alarm until the batteries are replaced.
These simple solutions save us time, money, and in common examples such as the smoke detector, they even save lives.
Mistake Proofing – A tool for life
Mistakes come in all shapes and sizes and whether it is because we are blinded by inexperience or even complacency, we rarely see them coming.
However, those trained in Lean Mistake Proofing actively seek out and prepare for such scenarios. They are aware of their weaknesses, are acute to potential mistakes and can identify vulnerabilities in most processes. What’s more, they have the tools and techniques to introduce preventative solutions that remove the risk altogether.
Due to the diverse nature of mistakes, the fool proof solutions of Poka Yoke can take many forms: For a large scale manufacturer, it could be the installation of a software that makes it impossible for any worker to create a defective product, saving the time, money and effort previously spent on inspection and rework. For an online retailer, it may be the introduction of online forms that make it impossible for customers to proceed to the next page without correctly completing all areas, saving the expense of errors caused by incorrect data collection.
Why Poka Yoke your process
It is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and this is particularly true in terms of business. If organisations fail to recognise areas of weakness or see small mistakes simply as part of their process, they run the serious risk of death by a thousand cuts. And in a time of such economic uncertainty, the cost of silly mistakes is at an all-time high. So, the initial step we must all take is to learn from past and current mistakes.
This first step will help us to avoid paying multiple times for the same mistake, and for those who have dismissed small errors as being part of the process for a while, the savings will soon add up. But this reactive approach will only get you so far; to feel the true benefit of mistake proofing you will need to adopt a more proactive approach and begin to actively seek out potential areas for mistakes. And to do this effectively, we recommend Mistake Proofing training.
Mistake Proofing training will open your eyes to your vulnerability. It will give you the mindset to look at even the most ingrained procedures in your process with a fresh perspective and will afford you the tools and techniques to foolproof your systems. By undertaking Lean Mistake Proofing training, you are acknowledging that we are all susceptible to silly slip-ups and that mistakes do happen, but you are refusing to let them happen to you and your organisation.
Start your Mistake Proofing training today with our short but thorough online course. Packed full of interactive eLearning content and with lifetime support included, you will complete the course confident and armed against the sting of mistakes. What’s more, as part of our discount Lean bundle deal, you can purchase Mistake Proofing training alongside six other essential Lean training courses and save an impressive 65% – click the red button below to learn more!