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Often overlooked, the simple checklist can empower your people to coordinate more, reduce mistakes, and focus on bigger picture items. Checklists: Simple yet powerful tools

P erhaps your firm experienced a slow-down over the last year or so. If not, then congratulations on your winning strategy (or plain good luck). The question is, did you take advantage of a surplus in staffing and tackle some long-standing goals? Did you use this breather to bolster your company’s standards and practices? It would have been a perfect time to do so, but it’s never too late to start.

Matthew Poling

Compared to other industries, AEC firms tend to spend less on research and development (used broadly here to mean the creation or improvement of technology or processes). Our fees are competitive, and deadlines are demanding, leaving little time or money for R&D. Yet, taking advantage of lulls during recessions, or even between projects, can enhance a company’s future profitability, help protect against litigation, and improve employee morale. Providing updated tools, processes, and training is imperative for every firm. Take, for example, the checklist. Often overlooked, the simple checklist is a proven tool for better outcomes, which is why they are used extensively in medicine and aviation. In his book The Checklist Manifesto , Atul Gawande describes the 1935 demonstration flight of the Boeing Model 299. The plane was a favorite in the

running for the next long-range bomber for the Army. Shortly after takeoff, the plane stalled and crashed, killing two of the five crew members on board. The ensuing investigation revealed that the experienced pilot had forgotten to release the gust locks, which hold certain flaps in place while the plane is on the ground. Instead of additional training, those involved created a checklist, possibly the first of its kind. The history of the Model 299 was later solidified as it evolved into the B-17, but the initial tragedy in its development was never forgotten. Perhaps your company already has checklists. Is the usage rate high? Are they regularly updated? Do you promote checklist training and discussions? In addition, a culture of improvement can be extended

See MATTHEW POLING , page 10


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