As we enter the early days of 2024, there is a phrase that I’d like to share with you:

“Brilliant at the basics”

I think it is a great phrase, or even a mantra. You can get a long way being brilliant at the basics and something we should keep in mind next time we find ourselves in crisis mode.

The good old fashioned checklist

One of the basics is the humble checklist.

Some people grimace when I mention them but they are a fundamental business tool for a good reason. They bring consistency, and completeness, to your results.

In our modern age of too many messages being received and our brains getting foggy with the sheer number of obligations we’ve agreed to, how do checklists help? In short, they are a way of outsourcing our memories.

Instead of having to remember all the steps of a particular activity, you can create a checklist. You record the steps and it is one thing less to have to retain in your precious memory.

When you’re under pressure, and more likely to make mistakes, the checklist is still the same as it was before. I’d like to think that this is why checklists are so important in critical situations such as surgery and air travel. Don’t let your brain get in the way!

Other benefits from checklists

Apart from consistency of results, what else can you do with checklists?

  • You can assign and clarify responsibilities.
  • You can develop routines, by adding frequency to your checklists.
  • You can embellish your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) with them.
  • You can simplify complex business processes.
  • You can take guesswork out of your team’s activities.

One of the biggest benefits, in my opinion, is providing a foundation for growth. If you can avoid the Groundhog Day issue of recurring business crises, you can put your efforts into going forward, not running on the spot!

Free PDCA Complete account

If you want to increase your effectiveness with using checklists, then don’t miss out on a free PDCA Complete account.

One of the modules within PDCA Complete is the digital workflows tool. This allows you to define how long tasks within the checklist should take, and allocate said tasks to individuals. You can find out more about this tool in the video below, or on the features page here.

The free account allows up to three users to use all of the key modules of PDCA Complete, you can upgrade at any time and bring your whole team into the continuous improvement platform.

2024 – the year of being brilliant?

So, will you take up the challenge and become brilliant at the basics this year? I can’t stress how this unsexy strategy can make a huge difference to all businesses. Crises disappear, teams gain clarity, results become more predictable.

Start with a checklist and branch out from there.

All the best,


Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their on time delivery performance, ERP system performance and deploy Kaizen / Lean production methods. Giles is also the author of 'What Does Good Look Like?'.