Without Mistake-Proofing, Problem-Solving Often Yields Mediocre Results
Two teams were tasked with the problem of getting people to properly sort their trash into one of three bins.
Here is what Team 1 came up with:
A good solution. Clear communications using simple words, pictures and color-coding.
Here is what Team 2 came up with:
Clearly, Team 2 came up with a much better solution. Simple, elegant and robust.
The Many Shades of Mistake-Proofing
Not all mistake-proofing solutions are equally powerful. The effectiveness of a solution is a function of the type of effect and how that effect is triggered.
There are four types of effects: Forced Control, Shutdown, Warning and Sensory Alert. Forced Control and Shutdown Effects are triggered automatically whereas Warning and Sensory Alert depend on user discretion and therefore aren't as robust.
It helps to evaluate the robustness of your solutions before they are implemented. Has the team addressed the problem in a way that it will not come back again or does the solution rely heavily on operator discretion? We have created a worksheet you can use to evaluate the solutions.
Rating the Robustness of Mistake-Proofing Solutions
Learn more about the basics of Mistake-Proofing
Worksheet: How Robust is Your Solution?
Integrating Mistake-Proofing with Problem-Solving Processes