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Poka-yoke is a Japanese term for a process that is translated in English as "mistake proofing." Various poka-yoke tools and techniques establish a better baseline for error-free processes. The concept of poka-yoke involves limiting the number of possible incorrect options, resulting in fewer (or no) user errors.
Poka-yoke, which is commonly attributed to Toyota’s Shigeo Shingo, can refer to a technique or procedure, or it can be a physical tool. One easy example is a resource in a manufacturing environment that may work to eliminate manufacturing mistakes. If a company has a certain die-stamping tool that prevents incorrect machining, that would be a poka-yoke mechanism.
Other examples of poka-yoke resources include quality assurance departments and lean manufacturing processes that narrow the possibilities of how a result will turn out. In some cases, the poka-yoke mechanism is something that is used only in one way — such as an Ethernet cable that plugs into a specific port, or a floppy disk or compact disc that only goes into the machine one way. The concept of poka-yoke evolved from the concept of "idiot proofing" where creating less choice and design narrows the field of possible user mistakes. It has become a very useful idea in the technology world, especially in manufacturing, but also in creating design processes with end users in mind.