The Mighty Checklist: A Forgotten Tool for Flexibility

By Jerry Manas

How many times have we seen PMOs create intricate processes and templates, only to find that there are more exceptions than rules?checklist

We create forms, templates, and stage gates, in an attempt to gain control. But in doing so, we also create such barriers to implementation that it becomes like the Twelve Trials of Hercules just getting something implemented. Plus we lose flexibility (and I might add, credibility) as well. We often overlook the power of a simple checklist.

For maximum flexibility in our processes, why don’t we:

1) Secure agreement across all stakeholders on which process elements absolutely must be standardized (important: get people’s input on this)

2) Determine which elements can benefit from having a checklist that would be available to all, and can be a working document, revised with each new learning

3) Express trust that those responsible for implementation will use the checklists wisely, and make note during post project lessons learned where awareness must be increased

We’d probably find that we can have more checklists and less forms and approvals. After all, pilots on commercial airlines work together with their flight assistants on a pre-flight checklist; they don’t have management come on board and approve them for takeoff (at least not to my knowledge).

What are your thoughts on this? What are some areas where you’ve used (or can envision using) checklists in place of forms or approvals?

Published by Josh Nankivel with permission from the author

About the Author

manasJerry Manas is the author of Managing the Gray Areas (RMC Publications, January 2008) and Napoleon on Project Management (Nelson Business, April 2006). His work has been cited by management guru Tom Peters and highlighted in a variety of publications, including Leadership Excellence, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, The Chicago Sun Times, and The Houston Chronicle. He has written numerous articles and appeared on radio programs nationwide with the release of his first book, which Kirkus Reviews called, “The ultimate case study in effective project management.”


Through his consulting company, The Marengo Group, Jerry helps project and virtual teams achieve and sustain high-performance levels using techniques and practices that result in greater alignment, leaner processes, and more effective use of technology. Jerry is co-founder of the popular blog site, PMThink! (, and a founding member of The Creating We Institute (, an international group of critical thinkers dedicated to harvesting new forms of engagement and innovation in the workforce. Visit his website at


About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top