"We make it easy to do it right"


I saw the phrase in the title of this post on a BFI bin for recycling pop cans. I believe BFI was purchased by Allied Waste Industries 6 or 7 years ago. The bins certainly appear to be at least that old, and I'm sure servicing them is now managed through some other means.

“We make it easy to do it right” really struck a chord with me, as it was only a few days ago that I found myself in a discussion about the merits of mistake-proofing. In trying to make my case that an opportunity existed to apply mistake proofing I was working to overcome the belief that the correct course of action was to ‘enforce' that the job is done correctly. This belief that the problem was entirely operator dependent included the stance that any effort spent to try and improve the process would be wasted effort.

I now have the perfect phrase to use in such situations. At its essence, mistake proofing is all about making it easy to do it right. It's about focusing attention on the process, believing that everyone intends to do it right and working with people to improve the process they work with. Everyday we should always strive to make it easier for someone to do it right.

Does anyone have any other favorite phrases that really hit home to help describe lean concepts and tools?

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Luke Van Dongen
Luke, an auto industry engineering veteran, blogged here from 2005 to 2006.


  1. Luke- I love that expression and it really is true — make it easy for people to do the right thing and they often will. I don’t think you can rely on that all of the time, sometimes you have to rely on leadership to set expectations that standard work will be followed. But, your design principle should be to make it easy for people to do the right thing.

    Look at hospital laboratories — it’s a RULE, a standard (a health issue and regulatory issue) that workers have to wear gloves. That doesn’t mean people always do (!!!).

    You can enforce that strictly through threat of being “written up” or you can approach the problem through “make it easy for them” — make sure gloves are stored in the proper locations, make sure you have lotion and things for when people get dry hands from wearing gloves all day, etc.c

  2. I’m also fond of “easy to do it right”. I often pair it with “and hard to do it wrong”. The latter phrase is most often taught in mistake-proofing (e.g., keyed assembly of pieces), but it’s the first one that shows a better understanding of human nature. If the easiest alternative is the “right” alternative, then that’s what will get done.

  3. The “easiest” thing would be staying in bed or not working hard. I think the whole “make it easy” concept has to be in the context of an environment where people are motivated (that their intrinsic motivation hasn’t been stripped away by poor management). If people are motivated, they’ll do the right thing in the easy way.

  4. The phrase has the ring of one of those empty promises, though it really is what a company should be doing.

    Joe Ely had an example on his website once – it was “If it’s not safe, don’t do it.” The sincerity came from being printed in giant letters on a fluorescent green T-shirt worn by a construction worker. I hope he was working in a way consistent with the message.

    Waste Management – mentioned in one of your more recent posts – has their guys wear the fluorescent green shirts, though without the message. It makes the workers safer from other drivers and upgrades their image from “garbage men” to that of members of a respected team of employees.

  5. We once used a phrase similar to what mike w said for a collections processs: “make it easy to pay, hard not to pay”. it really changed the mindset of the group toward a system-wide focus of pleasing the customer and increasing collection $$.


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