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The power of a checklist (part 1) – why the event manager needs a checklist?

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There isn’t any better source of information about the power of checklists than in “The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande – a surgeon, a longtime author of articles in the journal The New Yorker, an outstanding speaker and researcher on health issues. The author states that checklists are a tool helping to avoid great disasters in many areas of our lives, not only in the medical field.

So what is a checklist? It is a simple sheet of paper with checkboxes that simplifies the work of people more efficiently and minimizes the risk of making a mistake. This simple tool is successfully used by engineers, doctors, pilots. There are thousands of reasons for use it on a daily basis to organize events.

Checklists and To-Do lists

Are the checklist and the To-Do list the same? Seemingly yes, but in reality, they’re two different things. Checklists are a kind of codification of standard processes. These aren’t lists of activities to do, but descriptions of crucial stages of the business process, in our case the event management process. The checklist contains basic steps that can’t be forgotten or omitted in the process of organizing events (eg booking a venue).

Lists of things to do have a more immediate nature. The To-Do list contains elements that are simply removed from the list after completion (for example, call XY in the case of Z). Checklists provide support in the case of recurring processes, whereas To-Do lists deal only with ad hoc situations. At the same time, it is worth mentioning that the checklist can look like a list of things to do.

Do I need a checklist?

Atul Gawande, both in his book and during speeches, emphasizes the fact that man in his nature is not perfect – he is inconsistent and makes mistakes. Man sometimes forgets about various matters, and above all – he has a tendency not to pay attention to details.

The checklist is to constitute a systemic response to these human disabilities. For an event manager, a well-designed checklist is a guide to the process of organizing events:

  • it ensures that none of the planned processes have been omitted;
  • it is helpful in the fast implementation of new members of an event team;
  • it is extremely useful in preserving the chronology of the designed activities, what can be crucial in some cases.

As you can see, it is a tool with versatile advantages. Of course, along with gaining experience, the checklist may be updated and modified, systematizing the elements of organizing events.

What are the advantages of using a checklist?

Prevention of errors

Checklists help organize processes. Thanks to them, you can be sure that you won’t skip the necessary steps. At the same time, they help to maintain a constant quality of work and reduce the risk of making a mistake that could lead to a catastrophe.

Work optimization

Checklists allow you to perform tasks easier, faster and more efficiently, which generally increases productivity.

Increase the team’s efficiency

Checklists allow you to easily master repetitive processes and facilitate a smooth communication and transfer of tasks.


The checklist is a great motivating tool – the completed task is a source of well-being (the brain releases endorphins – the hormones of happiness), which activate and drive for further action.


Checklists can be successfully used on a daily basis both in professional and private life.


Human memory and assessments can be unreliable. This results, for example, from the structure of our memory: the human brain can hold only 5–9 items in short-term memory. Therefore, we need procedures to effectively implement complex processes that contain more than 10 steps. The probability that something escapes our memory is really high!

Checklists help you ensure that you haven’t missed important steps. In the next post, we will write about what should be included in the effective event manager checklist. Stay tuned!