We think about direction changing books for our business, The checklist Manifesto is one of those. As a creative marketing agency, we do a lot of different projects, and each project is different within itself, and we never want to feel too corporate. So for a long time, we didn’t lean into standard operating procedures. But this book changed that. A checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande is a look at Atul’s work in the public health world and shows how fallible the human condition is. The story centers on doctors and nurses in surgery rooms. Doctors and nurses are some of our smartest citizens. But a tool notes that for many years, simple mistakes were leading to many, many unnecessary complications and deaths of patients. Why? Because humans are bad at remembering all the things that they are supposed to remember. In enters the simple checklist, and the numbers of complications decline nearly miraculously because of a simple, humble checklist. Some things like confirming the name of a patient with the team and the paperwork can make sure that the right person has their kidney removed. But without a checklist, a lot of assumptions and mistakes are made. So how does this apply to a marketing business?

Well, I think it applies to all businesses and organizations because anyone who does anything can benefit from a checklist. To air is human, right? Humans are prone to make mistakes and forget things. Checklists can help mitigate that. Do you have something that happens every day? every week? Or once a quarter? Do you remember all the steps it takes to make it happen? We launch websites approximately once a month around here, but as they have grown in complexity and our business has gotten busier, it can be easier to forget a simple thing like submitting to Google search console. Checklist for hiring can make sure that we give employees and interns a smooth start to their work here and not forget, for example, their payroll paperwork to make sure that that gets taken care of. We think checklists are ever evolving. We encourage our team to update SOPs regularly if something changes or we need to add something new. Our team has the authority to speak up if they see someone else missing a step. These are living documents that allow us to be better so that everyone is encouraged to be involved. We started building checklists for lots of things, most anything that is repeatable.

I have a template I use to guide brainstorming sessions. We have new lead and closed project checklists. We have a video export standard operating procedure. We have a logo design package delivery SOP. We want to make sure that the routine things that we do that we do not forget something simple like sending an invoice or something less common like asking ourselves, are we going to add this project to our website? The second most powerful thing, besides not forgetting things, is that it allows us to decentralize authority. One of the things that we are trying to grow through right now is me being less involved with every single thing that happens in the business. We are working to decentralize my authority to empower more people throughout the team. Sops are one way we do that. A checklist for a process that I used to do, or another tenured member used to do, allows us to keep quality up and minimize mistakes as more people touch projects. In fact, during the pilot phase of making this podcast, we built an SOP for both production and distribution, and then we handed that off to our interns who are doing the production and distribution of this podcast, which allowed them to get up to speed much more quickly.

A good shout out to Eric, who’s sitting right there, Cameron, who’s editing this, and Addie, who’s distributing it. If you’re in a business that is not typically a checklist type of company, you should think about this book. If you are in an industry that does use checklists, but you have some people like me who might think that they’re ridiculous, you should also read this book. I give the checklist Manifesto by Atul Grande, a five out of five. Be sure to add it to your reading list. And thank you for checking out the content machine podcast. If you found this episode helpful or insightful or know someone that would, please send it to them. We will be releasing these episodes weekly, so be sure to subscribe to get more helpful content on marketing and leadership. Thank you for listening.

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