Vlad's Roam Garden

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The Design of Everyday Things

Poka-yoke is another Japanese method, this one invented by Shigeo Shingo, one of the Japanese engineers who played a major role in the development of the Toyota Production System. Poka-yoke translates as “error proofing” or “avoiding error.” One of the techniques of poka-yoke is to add simple fixtures, jigs, or devices to constrain the operations so that they are correct. I practice this myself in my home. One trivial example is a device to help me remember which way to turn the key on the many doors in the apartment complex where I live. I went around with a pile of small, circular, green stick-on dots and put them on each door beside its keyhole, with the green dot indicating the direction in which the key needed to be turned: I added signifiers to the doors. Is this a major error? No. But eliminating it has proven to be convenient.