When you think of all the tools and people you could add to your real estate investment business to make it run like a well-oiled machine, what do you think of?
Is it a call center agent that is a master of both CRM and follow-up? Is it dozens of workflows flawlessly executed in Podio or Infusionsoft? Is it a handful of people that do nothing but drive for dollars, scour craigslist and amass lead lists?
Did you happen to think of a simple checklist? Me neither. Yet that’s the focus of a book called The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, and you should add it to your reading list immediately.
If a checklist don’t sound like a high-impact, high-reward tool to you . . . you’re not alone. We’d like to believe our work is more demanding and unique than anything a checklist covers. But is it?
Allow the book to explain:
In December 2006, the Keystone Initiative published its findings in a landmark article in the New England Journal of Medicine. Within the first three months of the project, the central line infection rate in Michigan’s ICUs decreased by 66 percent. Most ICUs—including the ones at Sinai-Grace Hospital—cut their quarterly infection rate to zero. Michigan’s infection rates fell so low that its average ICU outperformed 90 percent of ICUs nationwide. In the Keystone Initiative’s first eighteen months, the hospitals saved an estimated $175 million in costs and more than fifteen hundred lives. The successes have been sustained for several years now—all because of a stupid little checklist.
If a checklist can save the state of Michigan $175 million, help Captain Sully pull off an emergency landing in the Hudson and guide medical professionals in reviving a drowned toddler (all cases from the book), a checklist can help your real estate investment business.
“Checklists seem able to defend anyone, even the experienced, against failure in many more tasks than we realized,” Gawande says. “They provide a kind of cognitive net. They catch mental flaws inherent in all of us—flaws of memory and attention and thoroughness. And because they do, they raise wide, unexpected possibilities.”
A checklist is empowering, not limiting. Nothing says you can’t buy multiple property types with different strategies. All that’s required is a checklist for each strategy. Checklists with explicit steps document your knowledge, hold you accountable and help you scale your business.
Some parting words on what makes a good and bad checklist, straight from the book:
“Bad checklists are vague and imprecise. They are too long; they are hard to use; they are impractical. They are made by desk jockeys with no awareness of the situations in which they are to be deployed. They treat the people using the tools as dumb and try to spell out every single step. They turn people’s brains off rather than turn them on.
Good checklists, on the other hand, are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations. They do not try to spell out everything—a checklist cannot fly a plane. Instead, they provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps—the ones that even the highly skilled professionals using them could miss. Good checklists are, above all, practical.”