Dylan, our eldest son, took his theory driving test last week. Or, to be more precise, he nearly took the test. The truth is that, when we got to the testing centre, he mumbled something about having forgotten his driving licence, which was needed to prove his identity.

Luckily for him, I am a man of infinite patience and so we drove the 50 minutes back home – in complete silence – and rebooked the test for a few days later. That day, we wrote a checklist of everything he needed for the test and ticked off each item before we set off (which, I’m pleased to report, he subsequently passed).

Checklists are a tool that can massively help improve operational and management performance. Pilots use them ahead of, and during, each flight to maximise safety, for instance. The use of checklists in healthcare has been shown to lower post-operation mortality rates by at least 20% and shorten hospital stays by as much as 50%. And, according to the song, even Santa checks his list a couple of times before setting off on his sleigh each Christmas!

In my experience, though, business managers don’t like to use checklists in their own work. Possibly, as with doctors when medical checklists were first introduced to operating theatres, managers believe that the use of checklists will undermine their professionalism. I can see huge upsides, though, to using checklists on a variety of managerial activities, including, for example, recruitment, decision-making, investment proposals, performance management, implementation management and communications.

Where could the systematic use of simple checklists help you better manage your business and improve its performance?


Off The Record: Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town

Written by John Coots and Haven Gillespie as far back as the 1930s, the song has been recorded by dozens of artists, although my own favourite versions are by The Crystals in the 1960s and the 1975 live version by Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band.


He’s making a list

He’s checking it twice

Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice

Santa Claus is comin’ to town


© Stuart Cross 2018. All rights reserved.