in Leadership, Leading People, Leading Projects, Process Improvement, Quality Improvement

A Simple Checklist (But No Simpler)

Albert Einstein believed that supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible.

He said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Here are some very basic (irreducible) questions that can act as powerful checklist to assess your processes.

– Why are we doing what we are doing?

– What all we do?

– How are those linked together?

– How is it done?

– What are the dependencies?

– Who is the customer? What does customer expect?

– What are the top 3 areas where small change can lead to a big difference?

– What all is redundant?

– What can be eliminated to reduce waste (of effort/time/energy/money)?

– What can be simplified?

On a second thought, you can also apply these questions to your own set of working patterns/personal initiatives/career. It’s not just organizations that have processes. We also have our personal processes (ways of working), and they play a huge role in what we deliver to the world as individuals.

Quality (and hence excellence) is largely a personal affair!

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Note: I am scheduled to speak at Ahmedabad Management Association on the topic “Personal Mastery: They Key to Deliver Quality”. (Friday, 08-Jul-2011 at 6:30 PM IST at ). It is an evening talk open for all who are interested. Are we meeting? 🙂

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Related Posts:

Lifelong Learning – 20 Lessons

Three Rituals For Constant Alignment and Learning

On Personal Mastery and Commitment to Learning

  1. I agree to the above checklist points.
    Some of them we tend to ignore or miss out sometimes, like say Dependencies. Its very important to find out dependencies not only while estimating a project using MPP, but also in setting milestones for certain tasks/processes. Identification of dependencies helps in ways like:
    . Bringing out links or linked items in terms of tasks, process or resources.
    . Identifying certain risks that might not have got discovered if dependencies amongst items were not known

    Again as stated, this implies not only to projects or companies but also to individuals for organizing their goals or targets. Because if an individual is a believer of quality, only then he/she can implement quality in work areas.

    One more thing I liked in post is Quality is tightly coupled with Excellence. Its very true that for bringing excellency in work / product, it should be wrapped with Quality. And Quality can not be achieved without best processes or practices.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    And yes….. I am IN for Friday’s session @ AMA. 🙂

    Best Regards,
    Jay Chhaya

  2. Great post on checklists – especially the “self” checklist concept that you’ve introduced. I agree that quality is very personal, and you absolutely get what you put into it.

    I found a similar comment on checklists interesting during a Harvard 2010 commencement speech given by Dr. Atul Gawande: it was interesting to hear a doctor’s take on quality, and he dives a bit into checklists as well –

    Thanks for the post!

    • Hi Ashley, Thanks for that note. Checklists are an integral part of quality – corporate or personal. Thanks for sharing that link too. I’ll check that out.


  3. Hi Tanmay, Love your list. Could lead to some excellent and productive team interaction. I would, however, add one more list, just to make sure that all that team learning is transferred to action and that is: “Having answered these questions, what are the 3 to 5 steps we commit to take immediately upon concluding this meeting?” So many meetings turn into nothing more than talk when there is no commitment to follow-through and accountability. That, in my opinion, would put the icing on the cake of your list. BTW, I appreciate connecting up with you on Twitter. Look forward to getting to know you more.

    • Thanks for the comment Dr. Greg.

      The problem is two sided: People taking actions without clarifying the direction and people only clarifying direction without action upon it. The post addresses the first problem and your suggestion addresses the latter.

      I look forward to conversations/connection as well.


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