Checklists can make all the difference

Mike Wroblewski

It was the middle of the afternoon on a sunny autumn day in the southern Georgia woodlands outside Albany. We were examining our compass readings, determining our next move on the compass course. Being a young tenderfoot scout in the Boy Scouts at the time, I was eager to prove that I could master the skills of wilderness survival.

We were running around the compass course for more than an hour when it hit me. I had the sudden need to do what bears do in the woods. Our camp was nowhere in sight, so I looked for the most appropriate spot. Fear quickly raced through my head. I forgot to bring my mountain money! To make matters worse, my fellow patrol members were already out of yelling range.

For those of you not familiar with the outdoor ways, mountain money is valuable paper at moments like these. Despite my failure to "Be Prepared", I looked to Mother Nature to provide a substitute. Needless to say, it was not the same.

I made it home from that weekend campout with a greater appreciation for planning. My Boy Scout training stressed a simple little tool called a checklist that I did not use at that time. If I had used one, I would have remembered to pack with me that precious paper.

Even to this day, I always make out checklists and double-check it!

The same simple tool is used extensively in many other areas with outstanding results. Checklists are used in operating rooms to make sure all things are in order before a surgery and all things are accounted for after the procedure. Pilots use checklists in their pre-takeoff procedures, making sure the plane is in good working order prior to flight.

Checklists are also an excellent tool for lean manufacturing. Set-ups, office procedures, quality activities, kaizens and even meetings can all benefit by using a checklist. It is a simple way to ensure that you do not forget important items which can make all the difference.

About the author:

Mike Wroblewski started his lean journey with instruction in quick die change from Shigeo Shingo. Mike is president of Victory Alliance Technologies, a Greensburg, Ind., firm that specializes in lean implementation. He writes a blog called "Got Boondoggle?" featuring lean and Six Sigma topics. Mike can be reached by e-mail at

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About the Author

Toyota Material Handling

Mike Wroblewski started his lean journey with instruction in quick die change from Shigeo Shingo. Mike is currently a ...