The right thing to do isn’t always on the checklist

People often make checklists, and while they’re not bad tools they really aren’t the best tools ever. Most people who read English have their brain trained to read top to bottom left to right. What happens if the thing that’s the most important on your list isn’t what you remembered first and isn’t what you wrote first on the list?

Then there’s the question about who value to whom.

Don’t smirk. It’s real.

Different stakeholders will see different items on the list as having different values. At work, I measure each task I do based upon the value it has to the business (business value), project value (does it help us move the project forward), stakeholder value (something that improves the stakeholder experience). By measuring my tasks against their intended benefits I can easily adjust and pivot to doing the work that has the most value.

Often times though, the right thing to do never makes it to my checklist.

I saw Michele in the hallway the other day and she looked like she needed a friend. So I asked a question that allowed her to stop and take a breath and describe what was going on. As I listened she could see the value of her efforts. I could appreciate the challenges she was facing. The conversation was mutually beneficial.

Listening was the right thing to do.

But it wasn’t on the checklist…

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