During the early stages of introducing digital checklists, there is pushback in practically every industry. It’s unnerving to think that after years of training and experience in a certain subject, we could be reduced to something as simple as a checklist.
What opponents of checklists fail to comprehend is that checklist adoption is an attempt to reduce the mental burden of experts, not a diminution in expertise. It liberates attention that would otherwise be spent on monotonous activities, allowing the expert to apply their hard-won expertise to higher-level issues, unanticipated events, or difficult decisions.
Digital Checklists can be powerful catalysts for empowering individuals and improving team communication, in addition to systematically raising an organization’s standards.
Using a digital checklist pushes us to acknowledge that even specialists are prone to forgetfulness, and that no level of expertise in an area will protect you from missing important steps. Given the success checklists have had in numerous sectors, you’ve probably already considered or implemented them in yours.
You can’t just make checklists where they’re required and hand them out to the team if you want to see the kind of outcomes that certain firms are seeing. This overlooks the most important aspect of checklist implementation: a cultural transformation.
The digital checklist’s ultimate objective aim isn’t only to promote compliance, though that is a good sign. Its objectives also include encouraging teamwork, discipline, and individual empowerment within a company.
Enhancement in Operations
Most pilots, construction workers, transportation professionals, and plant managers anticipate never having a safety issue in their lifetimes. Quality assurance professionals may adopt a similar mindset: the chances of this one step of the process being problematic are so remote that I can afford to miss it. As a result, we fool ourselves into a false feeling of security and begin skipping tasks we know we should be performing simply because that item on the checklist hasn’t caused us any problems in the past. In this scenario, expertise is essentially working against us. When it comes to complex processes, there are so many moving pieces that contribute to the final result that even with a low rate of human error, the inefficiencies add up.
Digital Checklists ensure that any stages that may be intentionally neglected are brought to the attention of the expert. They also tackle a second issue that many experts may face: human memory’s fallibility. Again, we’d all like to assume that the doctor operating on us is so knowledgeable in their area that simple precautions like hand washing are never ignored. However, in the hectic environment of a hospital (or a construction site, a restaurant, etc.), our attention is constantly split between multiple tasks, necessitating regular re-prioritization. Those are the periods when we are prone to neglecting what we believe to be essential steps.
Digital Checklists, on the other hand, do more than only provide standardization and discipline. They also distribute responsibility throughout the team, and if done effectively, they can help avoid the “that’s not my job” mentality. The last thing we want is for a pilot or surgeon to fail to hold other team members accountable because a specific duty is not part of their job description.
Ease in Communication
It’s hard for a single specialist to know everything about every facet of a business, thus specialisation is essential. The issue is that we develop tunnel vision, which keeps us from seeing how our specialty may affect others. How can we ensure that these experts work together as a team, leveraging each other’s collective expertise rather than allowing things fall through the cracks during handoff? Digital Checklists, of course, come in handy.
When it comes to communicating information among specialised teams, there are two key concerns: how could you be sure you have the appropriate information? How can we be sure it’s being used properly?
We can miss out on opportunities to create cultural change if we merely regard digital checklists as basic reminders of what needs to be done. These tiny reminders can be utilised to improve team collaboration, communication, and empower individuals to uphold the organization’s higher standards.
Another key side benefit of checklists is individual empowerment. The checklist divides responsibilities such that each team member is responsible for holding the others accountable.
Digital Checklists also serve as a starting point for essential discussions about why processes are in place. If a person does not realise the importance of a step in a method, they are much less likely to complete it on a regular basis, hence checklists stimulate discussion and teaching.
It’s also critical to relay findings from checklists to the executive level. Digital Checklists are important not only for communication between teams within an organization, but also for communication between experts among those teams.