At GoSpotCheck, we often hear “Our sales business is 100% relationship-focused” from our prospective customers. Relationships do play a key role in hitting numbers and achieving success. However, the term “relationship-focused” is often repeated by underperforming sales organizations to justify the absence of strong processes.
If a checklist can lead to success, why are organizations so reluctant to use them? Can a simple little checklist really support intelligent professionals in stressful, complex work environments? We’d argue that checklists are the fundamental driver for high-achieving sales reps to hit quota and meet revenue goals.
“Houston, we’ve had a problem” — iconic words uttered by astronaut Jack Swigert to mission control at 9:08 pm on April 13, 1970. Jack and his two colleagues were 200,000 miles from Earth when an oxygen tank exploded in their command module.
Rapidly depleting oxygen levels and the potential for complete loss of power meant the crew and mission control had to act quickly to develop a rescue plan.
So what did NASA and the Apollo 13 astronauts do when confronted with seemingly insurmountable odds against survival?
They referenced a checklist. Following the protocols developed by scientists on the ground, the astronauts executed the rescue plan and safely splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on April 17, 1970.
Space exploration is arguably the most complicated and difficult endeavor undertaken by humankind. However, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to leverage process to attain positive results.
Warren Buffett’s famed approach to value investing is known the world over. While many of his peers succumbed to erratic market swings, Buffett grew a little-known textile company called Berkshire-Hathaway into one of the nation’s largest holding companies worth more than $490 billion. In part, Buffett’s ascent to the top of the finance world boils down to his basic six-point checklist outlining criteria for acquisition targets:
Buffett’s disciplined adherence to his checklist leads him to caution companies that don’t meet investment criteria:
“When the phone don’t ring, you’ll know it’s me.”
Buffett’s affinity for checklists likely played a pivotal role in Dr. Atul Gawande’s selection as CEO of the Berkshire-Amazon-JPMorgan healthcare initiative.
Dr. Gawande is famous for his book, The Checklist Manifesto, in which he encourages healthcare practitioners to utilize checklists for improved patient care. In one example, Dr. Gawande developed a surgical checklist on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO) to improve surgical safety for hospitals around the world. His task was particularly difficult given the geographic and resource contrasts between the hospitals selected for the project — from those in London, England, to hospitals hundreds of miles from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Dr. Gawande’s new venture aimed at improving the health of Berkshire, Amazon, and JPMorgan’s hundreds of thousands of US-based employees will be difficult. These organizations have vastly different employee demographics — from Amazon fulfillment center workers in Jefferson, Georgia, to JPMorgan corporate executives in New York City. Just like Dr. Gawande’s work with the WHO, one thing is certain: this initiative will include checklists.