“I don’t need these stupid checklists… because I know this stuff already.”

Simon Beechinor Inspection management, Safety data, Safety management 0 Comments

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Do I really need this stupid checklist, Boss?

You may think that you don’t need to use checklists because you already know what to do or because you’ve done it a hundred times before. But even though you may have done so yourself or you’ve told other people what to do, it’s only human nature to make mistakes or to try and take short-cuts. Those mistakes or short-cuts could hurt your operations in many ways and cost you money.

We know it takes time to create and then use checklists properly, but when there is a repeatable set of procedures, the time saving over the longer term far outweighs any cost. If we don’t have a written checklist that is to be followed on every occasion, sooner or later you’ll suffer inconsistency, operational failure and poor customer service. That’s a fact.

When such failures do occur the root cause then exists between ignorance or ineptitude. Our ignorance is, arguably, forgivable when our mistakes are caused from a lack of knowledge. We cannot be expected to do better when we don’t know better. But ineptitude, however, is a different matter. With ineptitude, the knowledge clearly exists and we know it, yet we fail to apply that knowledge correctly.

This argument applies to everyone in any sector and it doesn’t matter if you’re an airline pilot, shop-floor worker, steel-worker or medical surgeon – the argument remains the same.

Checklists are designed to limit the impact of our ignorance or ineptitude. Ineptitude, like ignorance, is not a permanent attribute. It is a momentary state and can occur for many reasons, most importantly for very human reasons. The distractions, beliefs and stresses of modern life could almost excuse our ineptitude or ignorance, except for the real consequences of those mistakes.

If you still think that you don’t need checklist we’d love to hear from you!

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