What if your pilot had no checklist for take-off?

Some things are complex. Flying an airplane, building a house, or performing surgery are no simple matters. Making an error while engaged in these activities can have disastrous effects. This is why the pilot, builder and surgeon all have a checklist and a process to follow. They have a system to ensure that no mistakes are made.

Creating the right culture in our organization is no simple matter either. Yet, many of us have no system in place to guide us through the complexity. We leave it to chance – to the tens or hundreds or thousands of supervisors to behave in the perfectly coordinated way that will lead to an ethical culture of compliance. We act as if each will magically know how to hire, onboard, compensate, promote and discipline their employees.

When surgeons were first required to write their name on the limb they were about to operate on (while the patient is still awake), their egos were affected. But the practice was soon praised by all for eliminating mistakes.

Perhaps it’s time for corporate executives to create systems leading to a better culture.

Even at the risk of bruising some egos early in the process.


Hat tip to The Checklist Manifesto and Seth Godin

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