How are doctors and pilots so impressive all the time? Day in and day out, they save lives and defy gravity. Again, I ask you – HOW?
I’ll warn you, the answer might not sound as exciting as you might be hoping – they do such impressive things thanks to consistency and procedure.
You might be thinking, “But that’s so boring!”
While I certainly think that’s debatable, boring or not, consistency and procedure really are the secret sauce to being effective day in and day out – in business and in life.
So how can we add consistency and procedure into our everyday lives and businesses? The answer here is simple – channel your inner pilot or doctor and use a checklist!
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande helps us do just that. It’s a very powerful and informative read that I recommend time and time again to my clients as they work to systematize their processes, delegate, and consistently deliver value to their clientele.
Check out the video below for more:
Why do checklists work? Well, we’re all guilty of skipping steps at one time or another. Sometimes we know we’re doing it and sometimes we don’t even realize it. A checklist can help guard against both scenarios.
In Atul’s words, checklists “remind us of the minimum necessary steps and make them explicit. They not only offer the possibility of verification but also instill a kind of discipline of higher performance…Checklists seem able to defend anyone, even the experienced, against failure in many more tasks than we realized.”
Let’s dive into the requirements of a good checklist:
Know how it will be used.
The Checklist Manifesto tells us there are 2 types of checklists:
- DO-CONFIRM – With this type, people perform the work from memory or experience. Then they pause to review the checklist to confirm that everything was completed properly.
- READ-DO – With this checklist, people carry out the tasks and check them off as they go along (much like a recipe).
Whenever you’re creating a new checklist, it’s important to consciously pick the type that makes the most sense for your particular situation.
Be intentional about the formatting.
The key here is to keep it SIMPLE.
You don’t want every minute detail written out on your checklist. Not only does that take all creativity out of any process, it can also feel like micromanagement if you aren’t actually going to be the one executing the tasks on the list.
According to Atul, “It is common to misconceive how checklists function in complex lines of work. They are not comprehensive how-to guides, whether for building a skyscraper or getting a plane out of trouble. They are quick and simple tools aimed to buttress the skills of expert professionals.”
He states that the best checklists usually only have 5 to 9 steps (which is just about all our memory can handle) and fit all on one page. You only want to include the vital tasks that are essential to completing the procedure correctly.
Test, Test, Test!
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll create an absolutely flawless checklist straight out of the gate. If you do, kudos to you!
It’s not uncommon for a checklist to seem complete in theory, but not in execution. You’ll be able to actually measure and increase the effectiveness of your list once you’ve seen it in action. The implementation process is also the improvement process.
Lastly, we must keep an open mind about systematizing our processes in this way. Atul says, “In the end, a checklist is only an aid. If it doesn’t aid, it’s not right. But if it does, we must be ready to embrace the possibility.”
With that, I encourage you to get started! What areas of your business could you elevate through consistency and procedure?
Want help implementing a checklist (or checklists) of your own? Feel free to apply for a complimentary coaching diagnostic session with me to review this concept and figure out what else might be holding you back in your business.