My most favourite problem solving tool of all time is and always will be error-proofing. I do believe that I am hopelessly in love with it.
It is also called Poka Yoke since the term originates from Japanese.
However, it has surprised me to no end that many seasoned professionals frequently refer to the technique as idiot proofing rather than error proofing or Poka Yoke.
I must say that even with my usual utter lack of modesty, I wouldn’t dare call it that for fear that I may on some occasion (the possibility I assure you is quite remote…) very well fall into that highly esteemed category of human existence whose population is bursting at the seams. I am sure you agree.
You see, the point is that I do understand why some call it idiot proofing and are at times revolted simply at the mention of such an approach to problem solving. After all, most of us did grow up in a world where we were repeatedly told, “One must always pay attention to what one does!”
Then again, we grew up in the very same world where we were also told ad nauseam, “People do make mistakes.”
In our world today where even microseconds lost due to an honest human error can lead to losses in millions that may well be irreparable, can a business that wishes to remain profitable really afford to take any chances by relying entirely (even if they all are highly trained & experienced) on humans who will some day ‘make a mistake’.
These days, in most fields of human endeavour aimed at profit (legal or otherwise…), it isn’t a stretch at all to say that “One error is one too many”.
Don’t we all do silly things every once in a while?
Imagine if you will a negative financial impact imposed upon you for sending an e-mail to a recipient without the needed attachment? Would you trust yourself never again to make that mistake or would you be open to looking for…dare I say it…a way to idiot proof that activity?