Everyday Lean: Error Proofing the Hot Pan in the Oven


It's a short blog post today due to too much time being consumed with travel delays and airline customer service incompetence the last two days. I should have built up a greater inventory of blog posts that were written in advance to be scheduled for release.

The next few days, I'll be at the Society for Health Systems conference in my former home city of San Antonio today through Friday, teaching a “Measures of Successworkshop and giving a keynote talk on Friday.

Even with travel frustration, I can focus on the things I have control over… such as cooking in my own kitchen and doing so in a way that prevents burns.

I made Valentine's Day dinner for my wife, which included a saute pan in the oven. I seared two steaks in a pan on the stovetop and then put them in the oven to roast and come up to temperature.

How did I error proof against reaching in and touching the hot pan handle? That's something I have done before, causing minor burns.

My countermeasure: I put an oven mitt on the oven door handle, right at the point of use. That was more effective than saying, “Don't forget.”

Do you have any examples of “error proofing” in the home? Leave a comment here on the blog post or add to the robust discussion about this on LinkedIn:

Hopefully, you can see the examples that people shared there. My favorites include:

Seth Sager – Production Control and Purchasing Manager at Lee Industries

“Anytime I need to remember something that I need to take with me that is refrigerated, I always put my car keys in the fridge with the food so I can not forget. This happens more often when I am at work and need to take something home with me.”

Tray Gibbs – Continuous Improvement Leader & Improvement Kata Coach

“I often forgot my coat at the office and end up freezing the next morning. I have started leaving my car keys in my coat pocket and now I don't forget my coat. Still room for improvement as I have made many a trips to the car without my keys.”

Kevin Koonce – VP of Operations at Right Sized Inventory

“We have a “ReOrder from The Zon” card underneath the 3rd from the last roll of toilet paper. Because it IS an emergency if you run out. Kanban, baby.”

Chris Leyba – Employee Benefits Consultant at Better Business Planning

“In my past career every summer we would see broken bicycles that were casualties of driving into the garage with the bikes on the roof rack. After learning this lesson the hard way himself, a customer told me he now hangs his bike gloves on the garage door transmitter when the bikes are on the roof rack.”

What would you add?

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Error proofing my home is an ongoing challenge for me. It starts as simple as having a key rack by the entrance door. Everyone has there own hook so we can do a visual and immediately know whose keys are missing, if needed.

  2. The biggest “error proofing” I do is leaving trash bags at the bottom of the can, when you run out of one, there is a few in there already so that when one of my roomates takes out the trash they will see this visual kan ban and remember to put the new bag in the trash can.

  3. I used to lose my keys all the time, until I heard about this product called tile. It is a tracking device that attaches to your key chain and connects to an app on your phone. When you loose your keys you just go on the app to see the location and also trigger a loud noise in case you think you lost your keys within an earshot. This is the best error proofing that I have invested in or been apart of up to date! Error proofing around the house can greatly increase your day to day efficiency because around the house you are doing many tasks every day. Wasting time on those tasks (like looking for your keys) could cause you to lose precious time doing more important tasks outside of the house.

    • I love Tile. It’s a bit of an expenditure, but I’ve found it to be worthwhile. I have Tiles on my house keys, in my briefcase, in my prescription sunglasses case (taped to the inside). It doesn’t prevent me from losing something, but it makes it easier to find something that is lost.


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