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"No-rep" on that pushup

In some form or another, supply chains appear to be a challenge in every market. Combined with the disruptions in supply chains, inventory levels across all sectors have fallen to historical lows. With this in mind, there is an increasing emphasis on getting product quality right the first time. What does this have to do with the CrossFit Open?

The Crossfit Open is soon. It is that time of year that all age groups can engage in an annual competition, to see where you stand against the fittest athletes in the world. Or the time of year when you want to see how your athlete disciplines have changed year-over-year. It is also the time of year that you will hear the words no-rep in any language within a Crossfit gym. The no-rep is an incomplete activity that is not to a standard impacting the yield of the athlete. Within manufacturing, we might call it a miss of a key-quality characteristic or a specification that does not achieve the requirements of the next process step.

During these Opens, the coaches are trained to apply go/no-go gauges. They confirm the depth of a squat based upon the angle of an athlete's knees. Or they might mark a spot on the wall that correlates to an athlete's height when doing handstand pushups. Whereas, if this depth is not reached or height is not reached, you will hear the judges yell out, “no rep.” This is your personal yield loss where energy is being applied to your lift or a movement, resulting in no score.

In this example, the judge ensures that the quality is achieved to a standard that can be accurately measured against other performances. Can we create a poka-yoke or a mistake-proof method to ensure that a no-rep is not called out?

At West Point, the Army achieved their targetted quality of a pushup for their physical fitness test with the introduction of the “clicker board.” Yes, you have to hear the board “click” to get credit for the rep.

This was a lacquered piece of two-by-four mounted with nylon straps to a wooden plank; your push-up counted if your chest hit the board hard enough to make it click. This ensured each push-up had the proper depth.

If a poka-yoke can be created for a push-up, it can be created in almost any application. When go/no-go gauges are put into service, there is little to no question if it passes or fails. It removes areas of judgment to consider if the quality is achieved or not. When human decisions are made, it is not 100% sure that the right decision will be made. Mistakes will happen.

Having a poka-yoke in place decreases the potential of failure, helping the organization improve the quality of an action or production while decreasing second-guessing of a decision.

Challenge yourself to seek out ways to apply your version of a “clicker-board” within your actions. Seek out failures within standard work that can have mistake-proofing applied. When the application of mistake-proofing is organic within an organization, it almost eliminates cascading an error to the next process step.


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1 Comment

Dave Snyder
Dave Snyder
Feb 23, 2022

Thought provoking, Andrew. I'm currently ruminating on how to apply this to my work as a designer. The challenge is objective outcomes to a subjective product. It becomes less about "do you like this design (subjective)" and more about "did the [advertising/marketing] asset create the outcome it was intended to facilitate (objective)".

Great information to keep in mind!

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