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In the lexicon of The Toyota Production System and Lean Thinking, there is a term called “Poka Yoke.” No, it’s not what you are thinking: it has nothing to do with destroying eggs. The Japanese term means to “mistake-proof” a thing or operation. The objective of Poka Yoke is to make it virtually impossible to do something incorrectly. We want to stop wrong things from happening because we are fully capable of injuring or disappointing ourselves unless it is prevented.

The examples of Poka Yoke in our normal everyday life are myriad. We rarely pay attention to these failsafe measures, but once we become attuned to seeing them, examples tend to crop up like weeds in a summer garden. Let’s have some fun and describe the start of a typical morning for a production worker named Ben to see how often the Poka Yoke concept is in play.

1. Ben…

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