When I talk to my clients about reducing errors, mistakes and ultimately reducing rework they often say that if the work was checked more often there would be less mistakes.
This in fact is not true. Less checking leads to higher accuracy.
While this may seem counter intuitive the research shows that if for example there are 3 checkers, then each thinks “one of the others will find it” and each reduces their level of accountability and doesn’t give it their full attention.
Mistakes happen; how much could one small mistake cost your business?
And what can be done to minimise mistakes in your business?
A friend of mine recently spent a long weekend at the wineries in the Hunter Valley, just north of Sydney. We headed to her house for dinner and enjoyed a delicious meal and some of her lovely wine purchases.
As we reached the end of the meal she produced the most divine bottle of dessert wine and said “Wait till to taste this. Lucky me, this wine was destined for the European market and should have been sold by the winery for $50 per bottle, we paid $5. Look, they spelt the wine wrong, Semilion instead of Semillon”
The labels were custom printed with the customer’s logo and name.
And it was indeed delicious wine, all the more so because of the bargain price.
How much did that mistake cost the winery?
- Lost revenue as the wine could not be exported and sold at the full price
- Lost reputation as the winery failed to fulfill their customer order
- Lost future sales as the customer fails to place an order for future years due to loss of confidence
- Reputation damage as they sell the wine for a small price to their local market – I’m not sure this was a great decision on their part as it draws attention to their error.
It’s useful to have this as an example of how a small mistake can bring about significant impact.
What could the winery do to prevent mistakes like this occurring?
We could speculate about who ultimately is responsible for the correct spelling on the wine label. How many times have you read something only to have “fresh eyes” see a typo or spelling or grammar error you have missed.
And sometimes these things just happen.
What are you doing in your business to ensure mistakes, errors and rework are reduced.
Over time I have found that there are 3 main ways to ensure that the things you do are done the same way every time:
- Process; a set of steps or a series of activities that when performed produce a specific and predictable product or service
- Systems; interacting and interdependent parts that together bring about the desired result
- Checklists; reduces the need to remember, just check the list
Systems, processes and checklists are the key to reducing errors, mistakes and rework.