Sunday, 24 February 2008

Well worth a read

Sit down and take 10 minutes to read this article. The link came from here.

It's all about checklists, and how they can save your life if you end up in intensive care one day.

Such a simple concept - the checklist - but so difficult to put into everyday use.

I used to manage an area where my team was looking after a lot of equipment, and it seemed that half the time, I'd arrive at the office to find that some disaster had erupted because something had failed overnight and no one had noticed until users started callin gup to report problems.

So I implemented two checklists - one for the guys that arrived before 7am (the office staff didn't start until a bit after that, so they had time to do the morning checklist before the rush started) and one for those that closed up for the night.

I found that when the checklists were used, the number of morning fuck-ups that we faced fell quite substantially, because the guys found problems before the users did, and were able to fix them before the days work began. It made life much more peaceful.

But could I convince everyone to use them?


I had about 8 people working for me at that time, and only 3 could be relied on to run the checklist at the start or finish of every shift. The rest just couldn't be bothered - even if we struck a problem because they didn't run the checks. Nothing I did could make them see sense.

And no, I was not working in a nuclear power plant or a bio-weapons factory.

I have since drawn the conclusion that in some areas, running checklists has to be made part of the job description of particular staff, and failing to run them should be a sackable offence.

Of course my checklists could not last forever. I moved on to a different role after a while, and handed over my team to another manager. I handed over all the checklists, and he looked at them and then filed them in the round filing cabinet next to his desk. His tenure of course was marked by disaster after disaster, but our boss couldn't see that his failure to follow processes - or even write down some processes - was part of the problem.

I called him "fuckwit". With good reason.

In my next role, I wrote some more procedures and checklists. I then moved on again and handed them to the new guy.

He also declined to use them, and a cruisy role for me turned into perpetual crisis management for him - which is how some people like to spend their working day. If they're not having a crisis, they don't feel like they are doing anything. Pity that their crisis has to fuck up everything around them, and make my workday a misery. I called that bloke "suckhole dickhead".

I just like things to work properly. Is that too much to ask?

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