Complexity is the killer of small business profits, but it can be even more life-threatening in other professions, such as with surgeons and pilots. The small business owner can learn a lot from those industries. |
Pilots, never ignore checklists, even when it comes to something as obvious as putting the wheels down before landing. Yet surgeons do not have such a good record, often failing to do obvious things such as count the sponges that go into--and come out of--a patient before closing the incision.
Remember the dramatic landing of the commercial jetliner in the Hudson River by Sully Sullenberger? When he took control of the plane from his co-pilot, the co-pilot immediately reached for the printed checklist and began to read the “engine-out” procedures...and later, the ditching and evacuation procedures.
Why are pilots the most famous for using checklists? Why is there an entire department at aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, that does nothing but develop and fine-tune checklists for the planes they made?
Unlike surgeons, pilots do not consider it an insult to their intelligence to have to be reminded to put the wheels down before landing. One theory is that this legacy comes from pilots who were tired, scared, or wounded during war and welcomed any aid that would help them to simplify and focus on a few critical things, rather than having to remember every detail they faced and do every single thing, in the right order, and at the right time.
I’m reminded of a scene in the great Apollo 13 movie when two of the astronauts have moved into the lunar lander while it was still connected to the main capsule. When one of the astronauts, played by Tom Hanks, returned to the main capsule, he saw a piece of paper taped over a switch on the console. Written on the paper was the simple word, “No.” When Hanks asked what that was about, his colleague said, “Well, I was getting a little punchy and I didn’t want to cut the Lunar Lander loose while you two guys were still in it.”
Now that’s a succinct but critical checklist!
What workflows and processes do you undergo on a recurring basis, that you could simplify through checklists? What processes do you wish you could delegate to someone else, if only you were confident they would complete that process exactly as you would have. Checklists can help you there. What elements do you want to make sure that your employees or contractors NEVER forget?
Again, keep in mind that simplification is the goal. When the co-pilot of Sullenberger’s highly complex jet was looking at the engine-out procedures, there were literally no more than 5-9 things for him to consider. Any further detail would have been a waste of time in what was already, by definition, an emergency situation.
To learn more about how checklists can help simplify your business processes, listen to this complete track FREE at :
Be sure and listen through to the very end of the track as you may hear something astonishing...like...
“...we’re going to be in the Hudson.” (The voice of Captain Sully Sullenberger just before he landed his jet in the Hudson River.)
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