Poka-yoke (pronounced POH-kah YOH-kay) comes from the Japanese words poka (inadvertent mistake) and yoke (prevent), and is equivalent to ‘mistake-proofing’. Developed in the 1960s by Japanese manufacturing engineer Shigeo Shingo, poka-yoke aims to eliminate product defects by preventing or correcting mistakes as early as possible. The technique has been used most frequently in manufacturing environments, and is also applicable to software and development.

A poka-yoke device is any mechanism that either:

Poka-yoke devices are used either to prevent the special causes that result in defects, or so that each item produced can be inspected inexpensively to determine whether it is acceptable or defective.

Look at some good everyday examples of poka-yoke in action at John Grout’s Poka-yoke page.

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