Process Fun of the Week: Obama's limo suffers fuel gaffe

Sam Miranda

If chowing down on the political hot-potato that is the Middle East wasn't tough enough already for Barack Obama, things were made that bit harder when the Presidential limousine was filled with diesel fuel instead of petrol.

Facing tense discussions surrounding the Syrian conflict, Iranian intransigence over its nuclear programme and plans for Palestinian statehood, this was a problem the US President could have done without during his visit to Israel.

A replacement limo had to be called in from Jordan, adding to Obama’s already extensive entourage. Guardian reporter Harriet Sherwood heard Obama tell Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "It’s embarrassing, our entourage. My wife, Michelle, teases me mercilessly."

Obama’s frank exchange with his counterpart is in keeping with a new show of solidarity. It’s some departure from 2011, when Obama seemed to entertain Nicolas Sarkosy's crude character appraisal of the Israeli Prime Minister: "I cannot bear Netanyahu, he's a liar." Obama's response in the private conversation was overheard at the Group of 20 Summit: "You are fed up with him, but I have to deal with him more often than you."

The fuel saga did little to dampen spirits, but this didn't stop Mark Graban from putting on his process cap. He wonders whether there will be any root cause analysis of the problem, and points out that poka yoke – Japanese for mistake proofing – could have prevented the fiasco: "In the US, diesel fuel nozzles at the pump are intentionally larger than nozzles for unleaded gasoline."