Checklist or Ownership?

Reading a recent masterpiece by Seth Godin, "Linchpin," I learned the flight attendants of the successful discount airline were not given a customer service checklist - they were told they had to think instead, with the idea of owning the customer satisfaction. Such a noble idea, but I wonder if it can lead to consistent results.

While we tend to replace thinking with cruise-control, I believe ownership can be exercised at a higher level, and mundane steps ought to be posted on a checklist; so that staff can focus on delivering results while not missing on the minimum necessary steps.

Most of the time is spend not on doing, but thinking what to do next. This decision making process, if applied to necessary steps (e.g., who do I call next or what should I serve now), uses energy which would be better spent on focusing on impacting the desired outcome. If I have a list of people to call, I can think of the winning angle and good question. If know what to serve now, I can focus on better presentation of the dish.

In fact, freeing ourselves from decision making process as much as possible when it comes to what to do next, will enable us to focus on doing that step with better quality. So checklist, please!

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