Many times the habits we think we are anchoring are not truly being anchored.
The brilliant Atul Gawande in his book The Checklist Manifesto showed us all that we cannot assume that even the small “routine” actions are getting accomplished when we live in a quick, complex and uncertain world. His passionate and persuasive message about the power of checklists cites case after case where simple reminders about the steps in a process allowed successful outcomes to be achieved.
In his work with a global steering committee associated with the World Health Organization (WHO), the group searched to come up with a checklist for surgeries that would improve global health. What was on the checklist? Simple things: Did everyone coming into the surgery room wash their hands? Was the correct medicine given to the patient at the proper time in order for it to have the intended effect? Did they have all of necessary tools in the room for the surgery? And so on.
Seems like simple things to be a part of a checklist. Shouldn’t we know those things? Yes, but just because we know doesn’t mean we will remember and certainly doesn’t mean we’ll do it.
So, what were some of the outcomes of this checklist? Where were the metrics that showed the checklist aid does anything more than take up time?
“Major complications for surgical patients in all eight hospitals fell by 36 percent after the introduction of the checklists. Deaths fell by 47 percent.”
Nearly two hundred people in this test were spared from either harm or death just because of a checklist. They studied and tracked each item on the checklist and saw positive results across the board.
The simple actions have been anchored within their culture over time so that they soon became habits. They had identified how they wanted to improve the culture and success of their hospitals, had identified actions and language that would help drive behavior, and then were disciplined enough to anchor them in their day-to-day processes.
On their checklists were the “non-negotiables” that they couldn’t ever afford to forget. They were the items that could slip thru the cracks if people were moving too quickly, a complex situation arose, or they got distracted by a co-worker. They identified those things that have to happen repeatedly in order to improve the culture of their work. They had to ask themselves what habits they needed to form.
One of the last items on the checklist was for every person who was involved in the surgery to quickly introduce themselves by name and their role in the surgery. Some thought this was unnecessary. But Gawande reminded them, “Just ticking boxes is not the ultimate goal here. Embracing a culture of teamwork and discipline is.”
The results followed.
So, what are the non-negotiables that would be on the checklist for your culture? In order to anchor the desired culture in your family, on your team, in your organization, in your faith community, in your business, what actions need to become habits? What anchors do you need to drop?
Jason V. Barger is a globally celebrated keynote speaker, leadership coach and author of Thermostat Cultures, Step Back from the Baggage Claim and ReMember. He is founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, a Columbus-based company that works with businesses and organizations worldwide. Connect via email at jason@JasonVBarger.com or on social media at @JasonVBarger.
P.S. If you liked this blog post, you may also like these!: