Lean Office

Practical Pokayoke: Preventing Phone Charger Loss

By Jon Miller Updated on May 29th, 2017

This is an example of a great pokayoke (mistake proofing). My road warrior colleague Kent is prone to forget his phone charger, leaving them plugged in when he departs. The photo above shows the simple yet brilliant application of the mistake proofing principle known in Japanese and in lean circles as pokayoke. The key to effective and practical pokayokes is to make it physically impossible to perform a process incorrectly, forget a step or otherwise err. Following lean principles of “creativity over capital”, a low cost or no-cost method is preferred. In this example the car keys are physically linked to the cable of the charger, making it impossible to drive off to the airport without collecting the charter. That is of course, unless one has a pokayoke to prevent forgotten keys such as having an extra key in the wallet…

  1. Curious

    October 20, 2010 - 6:12 am

    Or if Kent forgets to attach the keys to the charger in the first place.
    And Kent drives a John Deere?

  2. Matt Wrye

    October 20, 2010 - 6:25 am

    I like it! Simple yet effective. Those are my favorite kind of solutions.

  3. John Santomer

    October 20, 2010 - 8:04 am

    Dear Jon,
    Then perhaps “pokayoke” is also needed address Kent’s extra keys and wallet? For example, the extra keys should be always kept in his wallet, the wallet should always be kept in his laptop bag. Nobody forgets his laptop, nobody carries his laptop around from place to place without its bag. A simple simple key holder with retractable line can be used – similar to a child’s straps used for toddlers by parents – only smaller in size. This is similar to a mountain climbing harness’ quickdraw (now used as a keyholder)-although it should not be mistaken as the real thing used for the harness. This can hold his car keys, office keys, etc. perhaps even his cell phone charger can be attached to the retractable line by tying the charger’s cord with a Prusik knot to the retractable line or vice versa – whichever is more flexible and will not cause damage to the charger’s wire. By placing the quickdraw hooked on his pant’s belt strap…he can’t leave a spot forgetting any of the above items.

  4. John Hunter

    October 20, 2010 - 8:25 am

    Very nice. Mistake proofing is one of my favorite things. Eliminating possible problems systemically. I love it.

  5. Chris Nicholls

    October 21, 2010 - 2:08 am

    Hi Jon
    Maybe Kent ought to permanently fix the charger to his Laptop or have a spare charger fixed to his Laptop bag.
    Does he really drive a John Deer?
    Thanks for the amusing post

  6. Mike

    October 22, 2010 - 1:11 pm

    John Santomer–I left my laptop at the security checkpoint in the Houston airport once, so I guess that poka-yoke wouldn’t have worked for me! 😉

  7. Mark Graban

    October 22, 2010 - 1:16 pm

    Maybe I’m missing something… he doesn’t always leave his charger attached to his keys, does he? This poka yoke is only effective if he has the discipline to attach his keys to the charger each time he stops in somewhere (which is what I’m presuming he does).
    I know when I have a piece of mail or something that I must not forget when I leave the house, I put that item on top of or under my wallet or my iPhone, as I’m VERY unlikely to leave the house without those (or by my keys).

  8. John Santomer

    October 22, 2010 - 11:19 pm

    @ Mike – I also lost a PDA in the most unlikely place…on top of my car’s windshield! It was funny when I think of it but choosing between my PDA and a USD 7-10 (carabiner’s original) – I say I’d choose the quickdraw anytime. 🙂 Its not just the price but the content of that PDA (data, contacts, etc.), so you see its an expensive way to learn about quickdraws… And yes; I learned my lesson well. I guess that is the beauty of “Kaizen”, it never stops even if it finds the one that “fits” the “shoe”. It seeks to improve even the wearer of the “shoe”… 😉

  9. sharma

    October 24, 2010 - 1:55 am

    Dear Jon,
    Nice innovation by your road warrior kent!
    I have also worked on this universal problem of forgetting the chargers.
    I have kept a charger at home, another at office and another in my car and the last one in my travel kit.
    Although this is a bit expensive than kents solution, this avoids the bulging pockets(due to the charger of course).

  10. Priyavrat Thareja

    October 26, 2010 - 6:42 am

    The car keys tied firmly to the charger,
    lest he should forget the keys but not charger,
    But he walks off, on foot, being so forgetful as he is,
    I have even seen (in movies) people walk off without pants,
    and if they realise they don’t have the pockets to keep keys in?
    Poka Yoke is a discipline, not a tool to forgetfulness
    Poka yoke is rigour tied to system’s faithfulness,
    Poka Yoke is rescuer, to every Quality men’s friendliness!
    @2010 Priyavrat Thareja

  11. Laurel Thoennes

    November 9, 2010 - 10:30 pm

    This really hit home, so cheers to Kent! Good thinking! My affliction is with keys; once my friend offered to duct tape them to my forehead! I know that wouldn’t qualify as a poke-yoke, but how about a 5S?

  12. Maarten Vrakking

    November 15, 2010 - 5:08 pm

    Well, it’s a very good solution – I had the same problem a few times (even in Japan!) and I never came up with this effective solution.
    I used to add the charger as a 4th point to my standard checklist
    1. Money
    2. Keys
    3. Phone
    4. Charger
    That’s obvious not fool proof or Poka Yoke – thank you for posting this.
    Does anybody know any other Pola Yoke solutions for everyday life?

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