A few years back, I read The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande. I find it helpful to read about organizational management as it pertains to other professions and gain different perspectives since my work is so ingrained in education. In his book, Gawande discusses the use of checklists in relation to daily and professional life and provides numerous examples of different professions that live by checklists. One such example is the airline industry.
He explains that all pilots are trained on the same checklists and that there is a checklist and procedure for every possible situation that occurs in modern aviation. When a new situation arises, a new checklist is made, and all pilots must be trained on the new checklist. Ultimately, it means each aircraft has a resource bank of checklists that propel a certain climate and culture. He goes on to say that the airline industry prepares their employees so well by training them on the same checklists and procedures that anyone in the airline could work on a random flight crew at any time. If a situation were to arise, everyone has the same set of procedures to follow, which helps promote confidence and safety across the staff.
This resonated with me in thinking about how we can promote broader adoption to the ways in which we do things. After all, how many jobs have I begun where I knew the job, but not “the way things are done around here?” How many procedural manuals and checklists did I get to define expectations? As a school leader, how many times did I implement something without a checklist to guide procedures and expectations? If one of my employees left, could someone easily step into his/her role and continue to move forward? Ultimately, I found myself wondering – did I get it right?
When we go into education, specifically education administration, we aren’t always taught strategies used in the business world. Our perspective is typically one of an educator, not a manager. However, given recent budget cuts and the push to be as budget conscious as possible, now is the perfect time to ask: are we running as efficiently as possible? Do people have a place to go to get answers? Are we using technology and management systems to their full potential? Now is the time to reflect on our current state of things because whether it is special education, human resources, MTSS or general education, the need for procedures remain the same.
Atul Gawande states that, “One essential characteristic of modern life is that we all depend on systems—on assemblages of people or technologies or both—and among our most profound difficulties is making them work.” What we have to continue to reflect on is, what are we doing to make them work?
If you’re looking for assistance in that arena, the Magnolia Consulting Group can help. Our team offers expertise in program implementation, analysis, and management systems to help you develop your checklists for all of your district-wide needs. Our combined resources and vetted technology can help you “make it work” so that your team can operate at its best. Contact us at [email protected] to get started!