The Power of a Checklist

Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto is a book that can truly change your outlook on the world in just a few pages. The basic premise is that a simple checklist can be an incredibly powerful asset, reducing errors and improving performance across a range of industries and applications. It’s a philosophy we’ve taken to heart at Powerlink for each of our facilities and in every process we create and implement.

What I found most interesting is the fact that, as the book points out, highly skilled professionals in some complex professions already routinely use checklists to great effect (airline pilots, for example), yet there are many industries where this simple-but-effective strategy has yet to take hold. In health care, for example, a checklist approach can benefit the work done by a surgeon or hospital facilities management staff. Ensuring that processes are executed correctly every time raises everyone’s effectiveness and, in some situations, can even save lives.

Even beyond the health and safety benefits, however, it strikes me that there are valuable opportunities here for a wide range of industries and businesses to make big strides in efficiency and productivity by applying the checklist concept to their work. Reducing errors and minimizing avoidable mistakes would be an obvious plus, but the value goes far beyond procedural rigor. Just working through the process of designing a checklist in the first place can help to dig a little deeper and take an analytical look at how best to balance risk factors and conduct cost-benefit analyses. To my mind, that’s well worth checking a few boxes.

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