“We’re not built for discipline. We’re built for novelty and excitement. Discipline is something we have to work at.” – Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto
Checklists are one of the most valuable tools in business (and in life). Whether you admit it or not, sticking to a checklist with great discipline helps to avoid mistakes. The chance of error is much less if you follow a tried and tested checklist that’s purpose-built for the task you are trying to achieve.
Following a checklist works. But are you willing to use one?
As Atul Gawande writes in The Checklist Manifesto: “when working on something very complex, like building skyscrapers, performing surgery or flying a passenger plane, even experts need to humbly put their egos and years of experience aside. In fact, some of the most highly trained and respected professionals in the world rely on simple checklists as they repeat procedures day in and day out.”
Checklists save lives
Need more convincing? In 2006, the World Health Organisation (WHO) discovered that surgical complications led to at least seven million deaths and one million disabilities around the globe every year. In a controlled trial, post-surgical complications dropped by 36%, deaths by 47% and infections by nearly 50% just three months after a two-minute, 19-point surgical checklist was developed and implemented. Since 2009, that checklist has been put to use in more than 2000 hospitals and has prevented countless surgical complications and deaths.
Why checklists work
Despite advances in technology and education, mistakes happen daily in every field that requires “mastery of complexity and of large amounts of knowledge”.
According to Gawande, error-based failures happen for two reasons: ignorance and ineptitude. That is we don’t yet have the skill to do what we set out to achieve or we are oblivious to the small mistakes we are making. In short, we let our egos get in the way.
Checklists work when we set our egos aside, accept human fallibility and follow a system that works.
Like constructing tall buildings and performing complicated surgery, creating a world class culture in a growing business is a very complex task. To build a strong culture, you need to lay solid foundations and then execute relentlessly on a lot of very small actions that all add up to a strong and high-performing organisation. If you miss or forget to constantly repeat any one step, the momentum you’ve spent years building can very quickly dissolve (or even become destructive).
To help you systematically build and maintain a world class culture, I’ve created the Culture is Everything Checklist: 19 steps to creating a Great Place to Work. The checklist and steps can be used sequentially or in any order you choose. But, in my experience of building one of Australia’s Best Places to Work, you do need them all.
Feel free to review, download, use and share the Culture is Everything Checklist. The intention of this checklist is to help build as many teams, businesses and organisations into great places to work.
Good luck and please do drop me a line and let me know how you use it.