Chances are this may be the last blog post article you receive from me. Not because I want to stop writing or have lost interest. But because when my wife reads this blog, she may just kill me!

But just in case she does take me out, I want you to know that I wrote this for your benefit. Not to put the spotlight on her, but to help you with one of the “deadly sins” that happens in many businesses – particularly when you start to get more business and get really busy.


Your Choice – Left Behind or Poke-Yoke!

Let me start with this question: Have you or your team ever forgotten to do something that was a critical part of a process in your business? If you’re like most business owners, it happens more often than you would like to admit. And sometimes, it can be very embarrassing and even cost you a customer.

So my wife did her best to help you out this weekend.

You see, she made the decision to spend the weekend with her cousin at a cabin in Oklahoma. They had planned one of those “girls weekend” outings – just the two of them, with nothing planned, just chatting, hiking, relating and getting their minds out of the day-to-day grind of being a parent, volunteer, cab driver, maid, chef and wife. She had looked forward to this for quite some time.

So early Saturday morning I took our kids to their track meet and left her at home to finish packing and head north to the cabin. She was FREE from her duties for the weekend! I had the kids, the chores, the responsibilities. No more worries – just be safe and enjoy!

When the kids and I returned to the house in the afternoon, it was quiet and empty. No Mom. Good for her. Then I walked into our bedroom. There, just inside the door was her suitcase, toiletries kit bag and her shoes! I quickly called her and asked if she was ok and why her bags were in our bedroom. She immediately realized she had forgotten them and was in disbelief.

After a few moments of frustration, anger and I am sure unbelievable sadness, she decided she would survive without them. And to her credit, she made the best of a bad situation and had a great weekend wearing only what she had on when she left! In fact, it made the whole weekend even more memorable.

But she gave us, you and me, a wonderful lesson.

Has your business ever been so busy or your schedule been so packed that you are barely hanging on? Are there times when you just KNOW that something you were to do was missed or left out? Has your customer ever returned to your store or called you to tell you that something was not done as you had told them it would be?

It happens to most every business – but there are ways to prevent the mistakes, the forgetting and the errors. And if you want your customer to BRAG about your service, your delivery, your efficiency, then you need to make sure you have these mistake-proofing systems in place in your business.

Japanese companies call this Poka-Yoke. Small, simple ways to mistake-proof the processes in your business. Here are a few that might work for you:

1) Build a checklist of everything that is to happen in every process. Make sure it is clear, simple and posted in the area where the process is completed.

2) Create a Buddy System where when a handoff is made from one person to another there is a quick QC or quality check done to make sure the process is complete and nothing was left out.

3) Create a tic-box chart that has the number of steps or ingredients that go into a package so that every time something is added, a tic-box is checked. The package is only complete when all tic-boxes are checked.

4) Assemble everything in the same place or same sequence so that nothing is left behind. (This works well in association with a checklist.)

5) Measure the final weight of a full package and assemble all packages on an active scale so you know that if the weight is off, there is something missing or wrong with the package.

6) Build a shadow board outlining all the parts of a package and assemble them according to the shadow board.

We could go on with ideas, but hopefully you get the concept.

If you expect to have customers RAVE about your product or service, then you need to be sure you NEVER miss a step or leave something out. You can build a simple system to prevent “left behinds” whether you produce a physical product, sell a service or manage transactions.

The decision is yours. Do you experience the feeling of something being “Left Behind” or do you find a way to use “Poke-Yoke” in your business?

I think we’ll be using Poke-Yoke for our next trip (if I’m still here to enjoy it!)

If this was useful, send me a note and I’ll be sure to thank my wife!

Ride Hard,

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