Checking it twice: embracing the Checklist Manifesto

In my last post, I talked a little bit about the ideas outlined in Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto, focusing on some of the big-picture professional benefits that making broader use of checklists might provide. But when I think a little bit about the specifics of how to apply these ideas in our industry, I can’t help but get excited for the myriad ways in which Powerlink and our clients can benefit from applying some of Dr. Gawande’s ideas.

I mentioned before that I think that a big part of the value of checklists comes from setting clear and consistent processes and standards—even for seemingly mundane tasks. It’s the way Powerlink has always approached every task and every problem we face in facilities management: one piece at a time and one step at a time. But a checklist can help to formalize that process, and to do so in ways that deliver maximum efficacy and efficiency. Because you don’t just want any process—you want a process that generates a consistent and high-quality end result.

From the automotive industry to healthcare, the potential opportunities for leveraging a checklist-based operational model are exciting. Believe it or not, checklists might provide more of a boost in medicine than for automakers. The reality is that the automotive industry is already pretty efficient from beginning to end: the professional ecosystem is so closely connected that any error in the supply chain or production process disrupts the whole thing. As a result, its systems necessarily have a fairly high degree of consistency and continuity. There is always room for improvement however, especially in hospitals and healthcare settings, where lives are at stake and seemingly mundane details can have last consequences.

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