Principles of Mistakeproofing and Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ)

Iris D. Tommelein1

1Professor, Civil and Envir. Engrg. Dept., Director of the Project Production Systems Laboratory (, Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1712, USA, +1 510 643-8678, [email protected],


To err is human but people can design and make systems that are less error-prone, and more fail-safe and defect-free than many are today. One such lean design practice is called mistakeproofing (poke yoke). It is integral to the Toyota Production System and successfully practiced in numerous industry sectors. Mistakeproofing is not as widelynor as intentionally practiced in the Architecture-Engineering-Construction (AEC) industry as it could be. To promote conceptual understanding and adoption, this paper presents 6 mistakeproofing principles. To further spur innovative mistakeproofing practices, it also presents the 40 principles of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ). Mistakeproofing examples from the AEC industry demonstrate how these two sets of principles can be directly linked to rationalize existing mistakeproofing practices and, in addition, to potentially design “innovative” ones. As such, this paper supports the drive for industry innovation in developing products and processes of greater quality and thereby contribute to construction industry performance improvement.


visual management, mistakeproofing (mistake-proofing, mistake proofing), error proofing, poka yoke, Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, TRIZ



Tommelein, I. D. 2019, 'Principles of Mistakeproofing and Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ)' In:, Proc. 27th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC). Dublin, Ireland, 3-5 Jul 2019. pp 1401-1412

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