How a Simple Checklist Can Improve Your Business

Article published in Canterbury Today magazine, February/March 2014

By Leigh Paulden, 20 February 2014

If I were to tell you< that by using a simple checklist, you could reduce the management time in your business by as much as 90 percent – would you believe me? It’s true, and many mid to large size companies (those with turnovers exceeding $12m) repeatedly prove the worth of the Mastering the Rockefeller Habits Checklist. This checklist is an internationally proven tool to manage business and can reduce the time spent doing so from 50 hours per week, down to 15 hours. This frees up more time to spend on priorities that are more important.

The Rockefeller Habits Checklist has 10 essential habits, which help major functions of everyday business to run smoothly and efficiently. When used consistently, this simple checklist will reduce management time, while keeping the whole team aligned and focussed on what needs to be executed, monthly, quarterly and annually.

The Rockefeller Habits Checklist

  1. The executive team is healthy and aligned.
  2. Everyone is aligned with the #1 thing that needs to be accomplished this quarter to move the company forward.
  3. Communication rhythm is established and information moves through organisation accurately and quickly.
  4. Every facet of the organisation has a person assigned with accountability for ensuring goals are met.
  5. Ongoing employee input is collected to identify obstacles and opportunities.
  6. Reporting and analysis of Customer Feedback data is as frequent and accurate as financial data.
  7. Core Values and Purpose are “alive“ in the organisation.
  8. Employees can accurately articulate the following key components of the company’s strategy:
  9. All employees can answer quantitatively whether they had a good day or week (Column 7 of the One-Page Strategic Plan).
  10. The company’s plans and performance are visible to everyone.

The value of the checklist is that it helps to remind you of what you need to be doing on an ongoing basis. It is just like any pilot of a plane. There are significant tasks that must be checked and done regularly to ensure a safe flight. The pilot will have flown many times before, but they still go through a checklist each time before take-off.

And like the pilot – your success in using the list is in discipline – use it all the time. This discipline will keep the entire team focused so you can obtain operational excellence. Christchurch chartered accountancy and consultancy company Taurus Group has been implementing the Rockefeller Habits for several years and director Wayne Bailey says it has made a huge difference in the company’s clarity of direction:

“We are now focused on the right priorities, communication is improved within the business and we have faster execution. This has resulted in strong revenue growth, stronger cash flow and a large improvement in net profit.”

Sloppy Execution a Major Downfall

You can have a great growth strategy, but if your execution is sloppy or haphazard, the strategy is likely to fail. It’s been said time and time again, the reason 90 percent of strategies fail is due to poor execution.

One common challenge that quietly sneaks up on successful growth companies is the transition from excellent, precise execution to complacency, and then poor execution disciplines. Too many times, I see companies executing a strategy, which in turn sees revenues growing, but not profits, and this is invariably due to poor execution.

By simply tightening up your execution habits, you can dramatically improve gross margins and profitability, while reducing the time it takes everyone to complete their work. This is where the Rockefeller Habits checklist really plays its part in the process. It’s the old adage – what you do not track, you cannot measure.

Do not try and action the entire checklist all at once – it is just too much and you will not implement any area well. I suggest you start with one or two key areas, then set a time frame to implement those – say in a quarter (3 months). Once those are mastered, you can move onto another one. Spend a few minutes deciding on the one area that would give you the most impact if you focused on it.

It does take time to implement the Rockefeller Habits Checklist but the rewards are great execution, improved profits and it gives you time to plan/think.

Download the full Rockefeller Habits Checklist (PDF). View our other Execution resources.

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Leigh Paulden

Leigh Paulden

"I bring my clients executive education that has been internationally tested and proven to drive business performance. I understand the factors that influence growth and business practice and create the clarity and certainty you need to make great decisions for success."

Leigh Paulden is an internationally certified business consultant working alongside New Zealand businesses serious about growth.


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