Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Check list listening

Check lists are an often overlooked tool.  They can be both simple and effective if they are used correctly.  The classic check list we can all think of is one used by an airline pilot to check his/her plane before a flight.  And not many of us would be comfortable being on a flights if we knew the pilot had skipped the pre-flight checklist.
Too often checklists are used solely as a downstream tool to ensure that x is doing their job correctly.  Or they are used by a manger in the hope that if they put one in place then the problem will go away and the manager's job is done.
I was shopping recently and as I exited the changing room I noticed the checklist shown below.  The other white marks are where paint has peeled from the wall.
Oops I thought, couple of things wrong here.  First the checklist is not being used and second even if it is no one is listening.  It is one thing to hold people accountable for their work and give them the tools and responsibility and to their work.  It is another thing to supposedly hold people accountable and not give them the resources to maintain the standards you expect of them.Checklists like most lean tools (I'm trying to think of an exception) have 2 parts to them.  The 'Do' part and the 'Check/Feedback/Communication' part
In this situation it is obvious that the feedback part of the deal is not happening.  And I do mean DEAL.  The implicit DEAL with a check list is - You follow the procedure and sign off that you are doing it and I or the Company will give you the tools and resources to make sure you can do your job and when things are out of specification corrective action will happen. 
As a Lean practitioner I see a lot of generic process waste happening as people go through the motions which must be disheartening.  As the customer I can only say I'd have like to have entered a nicer changing room.  Had I done so I'd have been in a better mood and would have been more likely to have spent longer in the store and spent more.

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