Checklists at a Hotel Front Desk


There's so much in the news about “checklists” in the medical context… and I'm convinced that it's basically the Lean “standardized work” approach in a different name.

Checklists help prevent people from making mistakes of omission — forgetting a step when following a routine or doing the same work day in and day out.Making mistakes like that doesn't mean you're “stupid” – it's a sign that we're human. That's why airline pilots use checklists and more surgeons and other health care providers are doing the same.
The other morning, I noticed a checklist being used at my hotel. It was a single sheet clearly labeled, “Morning Front Desk Activity Checklist.” There were about a dozen items that needed to be done, with room for checking them off. I'll bet with the proper use (and oversight) of this checklist, there isn't a morning where someone forgets to post the accounts of those checking out.
Hopefully, checklists aren't viewed as insulting or demeaning. Checklists are common sense — they work. They help ensure that people don't make mistakes or omissions… what's wrong with that?

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Hmm…Checklist. Check-List. A list of checks…

    Isn’t this just a simple embodiment of Deming’s PDCA process? In the broader sense, we are simply checking the outcome of something we did, thereby ensuring we got the expected result. I almost used “insure” because really a check list is an insurance policy to make sure standards are met.

    So I wouldn’t call the check list standard work. The work is what we DO. The CHECK-list is simply a mechanism to make sure we did it and got the expected result.

    This is an important destinction. If we call the checklist the standard work, they we loose sight of the skill needed to actually do the job. If we call the checklist the standard work, they we just train people to use the checklist, but leave the actual work content up to the person to figure out. The reality is we need a process to train the actual work and the check process. Both comprise the job, along with the Act/Adjust piece which is improvement work.

  2. i worked for Quality Suites in College station texas.
    Checklist we have one for every shift and it is very helpfull, everyone is always busy and never sitting around i highly reccomend a check list for every shift.
    but now i work for comfort suites in the woodlands and i was told we are not ready for a checklist. i think honestly every hotel should be using one.. instead of just sitting around they will have things that should be getting done…
    let me know how you feel and if you have any good check list that i could use feel free to e-mail it to me


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