How Robust is Your Mistake-Proofing Solution?
To assess how robust a solution is, look at the power of the
mistake-proofing solution, whether it can be overridden, and if it
is sustainable over time.
The first factor is to look at
The power of the mistake-proofing solution
is a measure of how well the solution fulfills the ultimate
objective of mistake-proofing: to make it impossible to make
There are three tips for improving the power of the
1. The first tip focuses on the trigger of the solution.
- Using an automatic trigger (forced control or shutdown) instead an
operator dependent or discretionary one (warning or sensory alert)
improves the power.
2. The second power rating tip focuses on the
type of outcome.
- The power of the solutions with prevention
outcomes is significantly greater than those with detection
- When possible, focus on prevention, not detection,
3. The third power rating tip involves the type of effect
- The power of the mistake-proofing solution becomes
greater and greater as you move up the effects column.
control is usually better than a shutdown effect, shutdown is better
than warning, and warning is better than sensory alert.
factor used to determine the robustness of a mistake-proofing
solution is to assess how well it is defended against being
Solutions can be overridden if their trigger can be
ignored, if a device can be disabled, or by a malicious act.
The third factor used to determine the robustness a
mistake-proofing solution is to assess whether the solution is
sustainable over time.
There are three questions to consider for
assessing the sustainability of the solution.
Did the interim
solution become “permanent?”
- Many organizations fall into the trap
of allowing an interim solution to become permanent. However,
interim solutions are like band-aids. They are short-term fixes not
intended to be robust.
- To keep interim measures from becoming
permanent solutions, identify the obstacles for developing or
implementing permanent solutions, develop a time-based plan, and
Can practices regress back to the “old ways?”
- Fight off the urge to regress. To help do this, sell the benefits of
the “new” way and audit performance for compliance.
service life issues?
- Make sure the right materials are selected.
- If shelf life is a concern, use first-in, first-out inventory
- Check frequently at first to make sure the solution is
working effectively and as planned. Then, use data to set the
correct PM (preventive maintenance) frequency.
The solution can be
assigned a relative power rating from 1 to 10.
The “1 to 10” power rating can be modified by two additional
One modifier is used to judge how well the solution is defended
against being overridden.
The second modifier is used to determine
if the solution is sustainable over time.
A sample Robustness
Rating with Modifiers is show on the following table: