Give me your checklists and frameworks.
June 1, 2014 3:54 PM   Subscribe

What checklists and frameworks do you use in your professional life?

I am trying to put together a list of frameworks and checklists for my professional life, that I can use going forward.

I've found great value in them and am now looking at expanding my list of checklists and frameworks in my toolbox.

Given that there is ample evidence that checklists reduce silly mistakes and just generally feel awesome to check stuff off from, what are some examples of checklists that you use at work.

For example - a checklist for a project might look something like this:
1.1 Does the project have a formal Project Plan?
1.2 Are the key elements of a Project Plan present?
1.3 Have all stakeholders been identified?

Another example - the 5 W's - Why, What, When, Where and Who.

Also, I am looking for frameworks that are frequently used in your field of work. For example, if you are a strategy consultant, you'd be well versed with Porter's 5 Forces, the BCG Matrix and so on. If you are a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt - you'd know all about breaking down problems into Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control.

I'm not looking for frameworks or checklists from any particular professional field - I think you can learn a lot from other disciplines! Basically, any formalized tool that you regularly use that helps you methodically think through problems and helps ensure that you don't miss anything.

Bonus points for checklists that aid in problem solving and reducing psychological biases in judgement and decision making.

If you have any checklists for personal productivity, those are much appreciated too!
posted by rippersid to Education (4 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
You clearly need the Checklist for Checklists.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 4:01 PM on June 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

Broader discussion on checklists and efficiency+reducing performance error (particularly in medicine, but he takes and disassembles checklist development from multiple industries particularly in his book) - Atul Gawande's Checklist Manifesto, spawned by his New Yorker article.

We try to get our clients to regularly use our checklist so we can give proper assessments (legal field), but it's shocking how many people mess that up; it only has 5 items! It's surprisingly a decent indicator of which clients will be "problems" (willfully illiterate, impatient, lazy, forgetful, etc.) just by how they treat our checklist.
posted by Ky at 7:54 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Checklist manifesto is your best bet for this. I have to do checklists for work sometimes, and the biggest difference is testing them. You write it up and then go through it a couple of times, then rework it with feedback. Simpler is not necessarily better.

I wrote a thank you note to my bank for resdesigning a form I had to fill out each month, taking it from twenty fields to twelve and making it so much clearer and easier. I also think the New Zealand government's forms are generally very well designed. Form design is an art-science. I've never been able to track down resources just on form designing, so I ended up saving good examples and studying them. Also, Excel is very good for form design if you treat it as a square grid template (set rows and columns to 1cm squares and merge cells to match) - that way you can still do excel stuff and pull data out/in.

You have checklists that depend on structure so you can send them out in different formats, and very design-dependent checklists that have to be made with a graphic designer who understands forms. I have a list of bills to be paid that's three levels deep (step 1 do this, here's a sublist of what to get, step 2, pay this, sublist: method and sublisted bills etc) that can change formats easily. Then I have a flowchart for assigning client files that was first put together as a table of steps, then as a powerpoint flowchart and still doesn't quite work - the checklist works, but there is so much detail that it's confusing on a single page, so we have to redo it soon to make it clearer. This is an infographic problem (Edward Tufte would be useful for you to read for this) related to making this more usable.
posted by viggorlijah at 8:42 PM on June 1, 2014

For years, I edited a local magazine; the job also included some fact-checking. Here are some checklists related to that:
- Journalism accuracy checklist.
- Fact-checking tips - a 10-item checklist, even if not billed that way.
- Grammar Girl's Editing Checklist.
posted by jeri at 12:04 AM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

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