Post by Rob Minton
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Several years ago, we were headed on vacation to Hilton Head. We got stuck in a traffic back up looking over Lake Norman in North Carolina. As we sat waiting for the traffic to start moving again, we fell in love with the lake.
While on vacation, I hatched a plan to relocate to North Carolina from Ohio. I could tell from our limited discussions, after the traffic jam, that my wife wasn't as excited about relocating as I was. She wanted to stay in Ohio to be close to family and friends.
I decided that I could overcome this challenge by getting my pilot's license. I figured that if I learned how to fly a plane, I could easily fly her home to see family and friends whenever she wanted.
I stopped at a small little airport close to my home and signed up to start taking flying lessons. The instructor handed me several manual which I was to read, study and memorize. We also scheduled our first training flight. When I got home, I began to read one of the manuals and I was shocked to see numerous checklists. As an example, here is a checklist for inspecting the plane before starting it:
Each item on this list is to be examined before you even enter and start the plane. Every item listed requires you to visually inspect something on the exterior of the plane. The goal is to make sure the plane is ready to fly and to identify any problems before getting airborne. To be honest, a great deal more must be analyzed that hasn't been listed in this checklist. Two biggies are the weather and the your flight plan.
Once you've gone through this first checklist, you are able to move forward and head to the runway to get ready for takeoff. Before taking off, you need to stop and go through another checklist. This process is called "Run Up." Here is a sample "Run Up" checklist:
The goal of the "Run Up" is to make sure the plane is functioning properly before takeoff. You need to test every control throughout the plane to verify that it is operating properly.
Now I realize this seems to be a lot of information. This is because it is. These checklists are required to be followed before every single flight. Why?
Because if you miss one item in one of these checklists, you could end up dead. These systems are in place to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
Has anything about these checklists jumped out at you? I certainly hope so. Here are a few takeaways for you to ponder:
- These checklists allow beginning pilots to learn the proper way to evaluate a plane and prepare for takeoff.
- These checklists help an experienced pilot stay on top of their game by reminding them of those pesky little important details.
- These checklists are very thorough and have been developed to prevent previous mistakes or problems from recurring. I'll bet these checklists have been improved many times over the years as more plane crashes have been studied and analyzed.
- Being able to perform every task on these checklists is part of the examination to obtain your pilot's license. This means they are standard practice for all pilots.
- Most pilots have copies of these checklists, and others, with them at all times. They refer to them frequently.
What would happen in your business if you had detailed checklists like this about every aspect of your business? Answer: YES
Do you think it would be easier to recruit and train new agents for your team or harder? Answer: YES
Do you think your business would run without your day-to-day involvement? Answer: YES
Do you think your clients would receive better service? Answer: YES
Do you think you're team members would perform better if they were forced to adhere to your checklists? Answer: YES
Starting today, treat your business as if it were a plane. Create checklists for every aspect of your business and force everyone on your team to follow them. Start by listing the various systems you have in your business and then build checklists for each system. Improve these systems when things go wrong.
You probably have heard that we didn't relocate to North Carolina. When we decided not to move, I put my flying lessons on hold. I didn't really have anywhere to fly to… (I was also a little bit freaked out about the "stalls.") I'll share more on this in a future blog post.