Today, our supply chain team went to lunch at Dickey’s Barbecue to celebrate some recent wins. As I went to throw away my napkins, I was intrigued by the trash bin. The bin’s opening is too small for the plastic plates to fit through. No matter how many signs or reminders they could post about not throwing away your plate, nothing is as effective as making the tray impossible to fit in the bin.
Maybe I’m overanalyzing my lunch, but I began thinking about how many errors I could avoid in our company by “making the opening in the trash bin smaller.” I often underestimate the effectiveness of the simple lean tool poka-yoke (Japanese for error-proofing). Instead of improving a process until the right action happens, I usually get better long-term results when I improve a process so that the wrong action can’t happen.
What simple changes, like a smaller opening, can you implement to avoid errors and headaches?