Do You Work for an Idiot?

Here is a process improvement idea for you. It is called “poke yoke”. I am told that that is Japanese for “making things easy to get right and difficult to get wrong”. It is a rather grand name for what my old boss used to call “idiot proofing”.

Let me give you an example: think of the last few pieces of flat pack furniture you bought.

Some of it you put together, took apart, flipped over, put together, swore at, dismantled, turned around and then finally put together again. What should have been a 15 minute job took 2 hours and cost 3 skinned knuckles.

On the other hand, some of it was so simple and was assembled so quickly it almost fell together.

That is poke yoke, making things easy. It is not simple to do and takes some work, but when done well people don’t even notice it.

All very interesting, but what has that got to do with KPI’s?

Simply this; is all your data, information, reports and charts put together in such a way that they are easy to get right (understand) and difficult to get wrong (misinterpret)? Is the point they are making so obvious that I would have to be blind not to see it?

Have you “idiot proofed” your KPI’s for your boss?

If not, should you?

James Lawther gets upset by badly run operations and mildly apoplectic about poor customer service. Read more about service improvement on his blog the “Squawk Point”


  1. Avatar Bernie Smith on July 9, 2011 at 07:36

    I couldn’t agree more James. I think one of the reasons that people think measures, reporting and MI are so hard is because many of the corporate outputs are so unintuitive. If you are the target audience and you don’t understand what the report is telling you (after a >reasonable< investment of time) then the report is flawed.

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