When a group of top Doctors at John Hopkin’s Hospital were tasked with using a 5-step process and procedure checklist to reduce line infections in the ICU, they scoffed at the very idea of something so trivial. After all, they were the world’s best doctors, surely they could remember 5 simple tasks each time the perform a routine process. However, after long periods of continuous observation, it was found that one of those simple five tasks were routinely missed 2/3 of of the time.
This was more than alarming. It was a wake up call. According to the New Yorker, line-infections caused patient deaths between 5 and 28% of the time, costing hospitals like John Hopkin’s millions in malpractice lawsuits.
Why are Processes are Important in the Workplace?
1. Technology Became Too Complicated
Technology is growing faster than our ability to keep up with it. In other words, technology has become so overly complicated, it’s hard to remember how to do everything.
“The volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably. Knowledge has both saved us and burdened us.”
~ Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
2. The Science of Short-Term Memory
On average, our short-term memory only holds about 7 items, and even that can be gone in seconds. It’s the reason we forget the milk at the grocery store. Often times, processes at work get stored as short-term memory, because they aren’t daily routines. In fact, some of our “common routines” at the office or workplace only occur once per week or even once or twice per month, leaving ample opportunity to forget key tasks in seemingly routine processes.
3. Safety for Employees and Customers
From playground equipment to construction and manufacturing, safety is only ensured by following routine processes and checklists. As we discussed, the best doctors in the world forget 1 of 5 routine tasks, resulting in a high loss of human life.
That’s why processes and checklists are applied across all industries, world-wide.
4. Financial Security
In addition to enormous legal fees, efficiency is a large reason for workplace processes. An in efficient workplace loses countless money. However, following a proven routine reduces wasted time, and as we all know, time is money.
This is why the importance of process documentation and management is critical to the success of every business around the world.
5. Quality Assurance
It can take years to build a reputation, and only a single moment to lose it. From Boeing airplanes to McDonald’s hamburgers, the importance of processes management ensures the quality of a product and the happiness of a customer. After all, a repeat customer is the best type of customer. But happy customers only come back over and over because of consistency.
The human mind wasn’t built to remember everything we have to do in this world. We need mind hacks to keep up with technology and more importantly to keep everyone safe while using our technology.
Process in the workplace are the ultimate business-hack and mind-hack. They keep the workplace and our customers healthy, safe and financially secure.