Checklists and using them in kaizen

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Kaizen isn't complicated, and some of the most effective tools can be the simplest. Here, we look at how using checklists can help save ...

Kaizen isn't complicated, and some of the most effective tools can be the simplest. Here, we look at how using checklists can help save lives, and how to put a checklist together to help you in your work.

By Karn G. Bulsuk



A recent post by Bill Gates talked about how a check list in development could help to decrease infant mortality in developing countries. Although it sounds like a simple idea, the reality is that many hospitals in developing countries do not have a standard to follow during childbirth, increasing the risk of infection, complications and ultimately, risk to the infant and mother.

Within the kaizen methodology, checklists are one of the most basic visual control tools used to formalize a process in order to ensure that the procedures are repeated consistently, while also retaining knowledge within an organization. At the same time, a checklist will make it clear where there are inefficiencies, and where the process can be improved and changed to make it better.

Implementing a checklist is as easy as it sounds. You would first need to identify processes which are performed fairly consistently, and write down the steps required to achieve them. Each step would be a part of your checklist.

Remember that the checklist should be a living document, in that you should use the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) technique to keep improving the checklist, adding steps you may have missed, or clarifying the language used. It's a good idea to start small: cover a process that you yourself are responsible for first, then increment it to larger tasks covering your team.

With that, you can achieve anything, from saving babies in the developing world, to ensuring that your projects are fully completed.


Photo credit: mt23

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Karn G. Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead: Checklists and using them in kaizen
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Karn G. Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead
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