The power of checklists

Checklists help us focus our attention on what is most important and we can use them in our leadership to win. They can also help us delegate and grow our teams.

March 21, 2019

This may sound obvious, but it turns out that checklists are a super powerful tool for getting things right. I heard a great interview about the power of checklists in hospitals on NPR — if you’re interested check it out here:

For each of our areas, I want us to think about creating some great checklists that allow us to create “I’m coming back” experiences for every guest, each week, regardless of volunteers. 

Atul Gawande explains in his book The Checklist Manifesto that there are two kinds of checklists: (1) DO-CONFIRM (2) READ-DO. 

DO-CONFIRM
A person or team performs the work, then review the checklist to confirm all of the steps were executed. If not, the pause the checklist provides is a chance to get right what wasn’t.

READ-DO
These checklists are more like recipes. They are slower to execute but you go down each item line by line and DO the item before moving on. 

GENERAL TIPS FOR CHECKLISTS

  • Usually no longer than 9 items (in line with how much the human brain can remember)
  • Leave out things that are implied 
  • Wording should be simple and exact
  • Use familiar language of the area
  • It should fit on one page
  • Free of clutter and unnecessary color
  • Uses upper and lowercase type for readability 
  • Tweak and perfect the checklist as issues arise

THE POWER OF CHECKLISTS… 
Checklists allow us to not rely on one person or even our own brain. Put simply, checklists become our external brain that we can rely and trust to remember what needs to happen.

Checklists allow us to grow our teams and train new members how to do a role. 

Checklists allow us to be able to take a day off and not worry about what needs to happen!

Checklists allow us to make great first impressions.

Checklists pave the way for consistency. 

I am going to work on some starting point checklists for each of us to consider for our areas — but I’d also encourage you to be thinking about what needs to happen each week and putting that into a simple, concise checklist for your area. Looking forward to seeing you all soon! I’d love to schedule a leaders-only meeting and check in with everyone to see how you’re doing and areas where you might need help.