3 Learnings from The Checklist Manifesto for Businesses

Jun 20, 2013 in Enterprise, Retail

If you haven’t read The Checklist Manifesto, I recommend running to your iPad and downloading a copy right away. It’s a great read about how a simple checklist has dramatically improved outcomes in the field of medicine.

Think about it – with so much to remember in the course of treating a patient, especially in the hectic conditions of the emergency room or the NICU, it isn’t surprising that these incredibly bright and well trained individuals can forget a simple step in the process. But these simple oversights can be deadly. These types of oversights can be the most offensive because they are not errors of ignorance (mistakes we make because we do not know enough), but errors of ineptitude (mistakes we made because we don’t make proper use of what we know).

How can these amazing insights translate into something much less life or death, but still important like business operations? Here are some thoughts:

  1. Focus on breaking down complex tasks into simple steps: Complexity is your enemy here. Things like store open and close checklists, which can include important safety measures to make sure your business is running safely, are necessary to make sure your business operating well but they can easily become too complicated and burdensome. Any store manager is juggling lots of different tasks, so making sure they have an easy to follow guide can prevent lots of mistakes.
  2. Document your knowledge: Without proper documentation about what to do and what not to do, it will be impossible to keep your team aligned to completing the most critical business tasks. Take some time to document the processes that your team members go through everyday and figure out the ones that drive most of your success.
  3. Create accountability: Without accountability around the new processes you have put in place, it will be hard to know that anything is actually getting done. Remember that the right kind of accountability can feel more like empowerment, whereas the wrong kind can feel like baby sitting. Work with your team to create a culture of accountability and transparency in the name of the greater goal – driving better business performance.

The best tools and methods are often the most simple and by integrating some of the learnings from the Checklist Manifesto, you can help drive a more consistent and organized business operation.