The Qualiverse - What's with the checklists?
I love checklists. They are some of my favorite things. In fact, I start each day with a prioritized daily task list (which is basically a checklist of things I need to get done that day). When I take the scouts camping, I use a checklist to make sure I have everything I need. When I go to Costco? You guessed it. Checklists. When I get up to leave at a restaurant, mental checklist: wallet, phone, keys...good to go. When I want to make sure I delivered a quality AV system? Checklists out the wazoo! They make life so easy. Not only that, they make it possible to consistently deliver on experience.
CHECKLISTS SAVE LIVES... LITERALLY.
Many people don’t understand the power of checklists. They think using checklists are boring, or maybe beneath them and their experience. Atul Gawande wrote a book, the Checklist Manifesto, about what checklists can do for everyone. One of his examples of the power of checklists is what they did for surgeons in eight hospitals around the world. Surgical teams began using a very simple, two-minute checklist, and saw a 36% drop in major surgical complications and a 47% decline in deaths! These are super-specialized doctors that go to school for 8+ years and participate in thousands of procedures. Their performance, and the lives of their patients, were dramatically improved by introducing a simple, two-minute checklist.
This checklist didn’t have instructions for the surgery they were about to perform. It simply paused the entire team to have a preoperative discussion to bring everyone to the same page. It didn’t teach them how to do the surgery or replace their several years of training. It simply focused their attention to the task at hand and aided in providing protection against lapses in memory due to distractions or fatigue.
I do the same thing when I take my kids camping. It’s not as life-or-death as an operating room, but anyone who has taken little children camping knows, the stakes are still pretty high. I’ve been camping since I was six. I am by no means an expert, but I have plenty of experience. I would never dream of prepping for a trip the night before without a checklist. Work, phone calls, bedtimes, exhaustion, etc. could all easily cause me to forget extra batteries for my flashlight or utensils to cook with. By using the checklists, I feel better prepared.
BENEFITS TO USING CHECKLISTS IN AV
The same is true for delivering AV systems. I have to use the AV9000 checklists if the systems are large and bespoke, or small and standardized. At stake are the experiences of the users. These systems must work. The only way to assure that this is the case is a checklist. I am not going to leave turning over a system to my client to chance. I have a lot going on in my life. If I just tried to make sure everything was ready to go from memory, I would surely miss something. By using a checklist, I provide evidence of everything that was reviewed for that system: both the unsuccessfully and successfully completed tests. With the checklists, I can skip over “the system is done” part and go straight to the system being “done-done”.
What do checklists mean for buyers or users of AV? It means you are going to receive a complete system. It means that the system you receive will behave the same as the other systems currently deployed in your building. It means that any team member following the checklist will deliver a consistent experience and there is no need to request “the A-Team”. The checklists themselves are most likely generic and not specifically generated for the exact system being deployed. However, they include tests that touch on each aspect of the system that have been honed for over a decade by an international community of quality-minded AV professionals.
Jocko Willink said it best: “Discipline = Freedom”. It can be stressful turning a complicated AV system over to the users without a quality management system. Putting your trust in a well-developed, quality process and applying it with discipline takes that stress away. Just like the surgical checklist, or a pre-flight checklist on an airplane, they pause the team to focus on the task at hand and assure everything is fit for use. When paired with the knowledge and experience of the AV design and installation team, the AV9000 checklists provide the highest likelihood of receiving your systems complete, as expected, on time, and within budget. It’s how AV is done-done.
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