The value of checklists

I’m a big fan of checklists. There’s a reason why pilots and others in life-and-death roles rely on them to ensure things get done right.

In business, we often develop processes to deal with repeatable activities — things like on-boarding clients, promoting events, and publishing content.

Many times we will get a group together, think about what steps need to be taken and establish the “right way” to do it.

Probably some notes get circulated, and then we’re off to the races.

We start diligently implementing the process we all agreed to.

We see positive results because we came up with a good process — after all, we got input from a whole team of people involved in the task at hand.

For a time, we keep doing it well.

But then things get busy. And we cut corners.

Or we no longer feel the pain that led to the process. And we cut corners.

Then a new team member joins. And the muscle-memory must be rebuilt.

Soon enough the good process we established has gotten diluted.

Not because someone thought it wasn’t a good idea to begin with.

Not because anyone was lazy or unconcerned.

Simply because it’s a natural thing that happens over time.

That’s why I am such a big fan of checklists.

Checklists help ensure key steps never get forgotten, even when new team members join.

Checklists help ensure key steps always get taken, even when we’re busy.

Checklists help ensure our good ideas and problem-solving efforts don’t go to waste.

If pilots didn’t have checklists, eventually steps that were put in place to prevent accidents will get skipped.

That red button is always in the right position, so why check it today?

Until the day that red button causes a problem. Just like it probably did in order to get on the checklist in the first place.

If we create repeatable processes in our businesses, we should put together checklists.

There’s no need to go overboard here and have a checklist for absolutely everything, but building and using them ensures that things don’t fall through the cracks.

Are you using checklists in your business?

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