Is that a checklist you’re hiding?

October 10, 2011

I have dark secrets.


Once, when I was about 10 years old, I bought my mother some perfume as a gift only to swap it on the way home with a friend for a parachuting Action Man…Come to think of it perhaps my friend has some dark secrets too…

There are others.

I cheat at sudoku, for example.

I used to be a member of the Queen fan club…The group – not the woman on the stamps.

But as a manger who prides himself on being anti-paperwork, perhaps most shocking of all is the admission that I regularly use checklists.

I know. It’s bad.

However, having read Atul Gawande’s book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, I feel it may finally be safe to admit it in public.

I couldn’t function without them, because, you see, I was born with a special condition – I have absolutely no memory for anything that might be remotely useful. The names of minor characters in Judge Dredd comic stories that I read over 25 years ago? No problem. The theme tunes of TV shows cancelled decades ago? easy-peasy. The three things I have to take intongfg a lesson? not a chance? The two pieces of paper I always need in a teachers’ meeting? You’re having a laugh, aren’t ya?

Gawande’s fascinating book isn’t about teaching but focuses instead on how easy it is for medical professionals to miss routine steps in complex procedures. Mistakes that literally cost lives. The introduction of checklists – as opposed to investment in training, etc., – has proven to be highly effective in avoiding such issues and has saved countless lives.

Luckily those of us in educational management are not facing the same pressures as surgeons, however, some simple checklists can help us become more efficient and effective in our jobs.

They take a few seconds to glance over, but I have found them the best tool for getting round my memory difficulties.

I will share some of the checklists I use over the next few weeks, I know, You can hardly contain your excitement, can you? Fell free to add your own!

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