Get it Right with a Pre-Execution Checklist

Have you ever been getting ready to do something important, then forgot to take care of one critical thing?  That almost happened to me a couple weeks ago.  Fortunately, there was a technique we used that saved us some embarrassment and helped make sure things went smoothly.  It’s called the Pre-execution Checklist, and today we’re going to talk about what it is and how you can use it to make sure your event goes well too.

Who Has the Flags?

Two weeks ago, one of the guys in our Scout troop was about to get his Eagle award in a big ceremony.  About 15 minutes before it began, I gathered the key players together to go over everything one final time.  As part of that process, I had my pre-execution checklist.

We went down the list, and when I got to flag and flag stand in place, we paused and looked around – not there.  That’s when I remembered that it was still in the back of my car.  A few minutes later it was in place and ready to go.  But how embarrassing would that have been to get ready to say the Pledge of Allegiance only to discover – No Flag?!  We were saved by the pre-execution checklist.

The Pre-Execution Checklist

What is a Pre-Execution Checklist?  Really it’s simply a list of everything that needs to be done and in place before you kick off your event.  Picture the Scene from the movie Apollo 13 – before the rocket blasts off, the flight director gets on the radio and runs through his checklist of critical items, and he doesn’t authorize launch until everyone gives him a “go.”

This takes a little preparation but if you do it while things are calm and you can think, you are more likely to get everything straight when the pressure is on.

Simply sit down and visualize what has to happen and how things have to be arranged for the event to begin on the right foot.  For our ceremony, the checklist included things like:

• All the awards in place and ready on a table
• The podium set up and audio sound check complete
• Projection screen in place
• Laptop and projector in place and tested
• And of course, flag and flag stand in place

If you do this before all the chaos, then use your checklist before kicking off your event, you can be sure that your team is ready to go and things will go well.

Bonus Tip

Bonus tip:  If you have delegated well, than most of the things on your list will be somebody else’s job.  So gather those key people before the start of your event, and do it the NASA way – you call off the item, and the person responsible gives you the “Go.”  When you get to the end of the list, you will know with confidence that you are ready to launch.

The Takeaway

So if it is important and you want to get it right the first time, make yourself a pre-execution checklist, and use it before you give that launch command.  You’ll be glad you did.

And that’s your RapidStart Leadership tip for the day.
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About the Author: Ken Downer
Ken Downer - Founder RapidStart Leadership

Ken served for 26 years in the Infantry, retiring as a Colonel.  From leading patrols in the Korean DMZ, to parachuting into the jungles of Panama, to commanding a remote outpost on the Iran-Iraq border, he has learned a lot about leadership, and has a passion for sharing that knowledge with others.  Look for his weekly posts, check out his online courses, subscribe below, or simply connect, he loves to talk about this stuff.

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