Remote Control Error Proofing

Here’s another example of “Everyday Error Proofing‘ courtesy of the new cable box from my cable company (part of the federally mandated transition to digital-only service).

The manual for the remote says (not that I was reading it, but I just happened to notice):

“If the same button is pressed and held for 45 seconds, your remote control will turn itself off automatically.

This extends the battery life should the remote become lodged under or between heavy objects, for example sofa cushions.”

There’s an example of some thoughtful error proofing. That’s much more effective than a big warning label that says, “BE CAREFUL, Do not get Remote stuck in Couch Cushions.”

It’s error proofed, and their manual explains “why,” which is a nice touch. It’s a nice Lean culture method to take the time to explain “why” rather than just telling somebody to do something or not to do something.

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

1 Comment

  1. robert says

    Great example. I read here ( recently that the use of safety glasses was a sign of not error-proofing the process.

    Perfecting our customer’s process and error proofing them using Lean techniques are where we can add real value. So while we continue to have our “safety glasses” issues we need to keep in mind what our real goal is. You may want to give all of your IT staff a pair of safety glasses. First, to remind them to go out and visit the factory floor to see what is really going on (a Gemba walk in Lean terminology) but also to remind them to use error proofing techniques to perfect the processes.

    Using similar logic this is another example (

    If you’re worried about some thug trying to jack your iPod, this raincoat should give you some peace of mind. Not because it makes you look like a really big Matrix fan, but because it’s bulletproof and stabproof.


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