Checklist your business

I am a firm believer of Checklists and what made me a devotee is a book by a surgeon named Atul Gawande. His book The Checklist Manifesto revealed the power of checklists and how it could help me to move from Working In the Business to Working on the Business.

Dr. Atul Gawande in his quest to cut down post-surgery complications discovered the power of checklists. In the book he cites three case-studies, one each in aviation, construction, and healthcare that shed light on how to improve efficiency, safety and consistency.

Gawande stated he was inspired to write The Checklist Manifesto after reading a story about a young child who survived a fall into a frozen pond and discovering the physician who saved her relied heavily on checklists.

I run three businesses and for each business I have created a checklist for each department head, namely, sales, operations and finance. The checklist is a guide for managers to prepare for the review meeting with top management. The checklists are a mix of points covering analysis, plans, actions, and reports.

Managers use it as a business manual which highlights the KPIs of the business that needs to be achieved and the underlying steps that needs to be taken for the desired results. They are expected to arrive to the review meeting with all the checklists ticked. The intervening period between two meeting is spent ensuring that they have covered all the tasks for a fully ticked checklist.

The checklist has helped my business in many ways. Making the checklist requires deep analysis by top management and participation of the team heads. Participation in making the list brings understanding and ownership, and hence better compliance. Secondly it is a documented way of communicating to managers the expectations and for them to share the same vision with their team. And most importantly it ensures that meetings progress rapidly and more time is spent on constructive review and forward planning.

A fully ticked checklist gives managers a sense of achievement in each review period and where the boxes are unchecked it shows room for improvement. Business landscapes do change and a review is also a must, hence we do review our checklist once every three months to ensure that we are in step with the times.

Managing by checklist has grown my business faster and made me a more effective manager. I believe that what gets measured gets managed and checklist helps us to create the right rhythm of measuring.

I suggest that you read the book and see how it can help you setup your own checklists.

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