Monday, March 2, 2009

Checklists

If you want a low tech solution to help you be more productive, make less errors and improve the quality of your output then I suggest you read “Checklists offer a cure for many ills”. The article demonstrates how checklist are used to save lives in the airline industry (recent crash into the Hudson River in New York for example) and for surgery.

 

I’m a big fan of checklists too which I learnt from the E-Myth by Michael Gerber. I especially like the following from the book:

 

A business that looks orderly:

•says to your customer that your people know what they're doing.

•says to your people that you know what you're doing.

•says that while the world may not work, some things can.

•says to your customers that they can trust in the result delivered and assures your people that they can trust in their future with you.

•says that structure is in place.

 

How does a business ensure that it is orderly? Checklists. After reading the E-Myth I developed all sorts of lists to ensure consistency in what I did. When I wanted to run up a server I used a checklist. The same applied to something as lowly as a workstation. Once I had the checklist complete I not only had a consistent outcome but I also had a record of the whole process.

 

Now the good old analogue method of pen and paper still works but you can achieve even greater benefits by using electronic checklists. The simplest way I know how to achieve that is via OneNote or SharePoint, of both of which I use. These products allow you a simple and flexible way to not only save and retrieve your checklist but also to share it with others.

 

If you are not using checklists then you aren’t being as effective as you could be. I can assure you that if you start developing and using checklists for things then you are going to get better results and that’s what we all should be aiming for. That doesn’t just apply in your business life but everywhere else.