Checklists: Key Business Systems

This month’s theme is CHECKLISTS!  I love a good checklist to help break down complex tasks into repeatable actions.  I’ll be sharing some of my favorites over the next few weeks. 
A good checklist has the same benefits of a system – Save Yourself Stress Time, Energy and Money.   

Here is an interesting excerpt from the book by Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.

The origins of the checklist.On October 30, 1935, at Wright Air Field in Dayton, Ohio, the U.S. Army Air Corps held a competition for airplane manufacturers vying to build the next-generation of the long-range bomber. Only it wasn’t supposed to be much of a competition at all. 

The Boeing Corporation’s gleaming aluminum-alloy Model 299 was expected to steal the show, its design far superior to those of the competition. In other words, it was just a formality.

As the Model 299 test plane taxied onto the runway, a small group of army brass and manufacturing executives watched. The plane took off without a hitch. Then suddenly, at about 300 feet, it stalled, turned on one wing, and crashed killing two of the five crew members, including the pilot Major Hill.

Of course, everyone wanted to know what had happened. An investigation revealed that there was nothing to indicate any problems mechanically with the plane. It was a “pilot error.” The problem with the new plane, if there was one, was that it was substantially more complex than the previous aircraft. Among other things, there were 4 engines, each with its own fuel-mix, wing flaps, trim that needed constant adjustment, and propellers requiring pitch adjustment. While trying to keep up with the increased complexity, Hill had forgotten to release a new locking mechanism on the rudder controls. The new plane was too much for anyone to fly. The unexpected winner was the smaller designed Douglas.

Here is where it really gets interesting. 

The army, convinced of the technical superiority of the Boeing plane, ordered a few anyway. If you’re thinking they’d just put the pilots through more training to fly the plane, you’d be wrong. Major Hill, the chief of flight testing, was an experienced pilot, so longer training was unlikely to result in improvement. Instead, they created a pilot’s checklist.

The pilots made the list simple and short. It fit on an index card with step-by-step instructions for takeoff, flying, landing, and taxiing. It was as if someone all of a sudden gave an experienced automobile driver a checklist of things that would be obvious to them. There was nothing on the checklist they didn’t know. Stuff like, check that the instruments are set, the door closed. Basics. 

That checklist changed the course of history and quite possibly the war. The pilots went on to fly the Model 299 a “total of 1.8 million miles” without a single accident and as a result the army ordered over 13,000 of them.

WOW – The power of a simple checklist!

I have created a Key Systems Review Checklist  – it has 12 areas of business and a few “basic” questions or reminders under each area.  Download it and book some time to review your own checklists in your business. You can get it for Free on my website resources page here:

If you need help in your business – take action and Schedule a free 30 minute FOCUS call with me today. 

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Mary Gaul helped my partner and I analyze our business and pushed us out of our comfort zone. She has a gentle way of leading us down the right path that is best for our company that was so appreciated. We will be working with Mary more in the future!