Checklists – Due Diligence

A few years ago The New Yorker published an article extolling the virtues of checklists in a hospital setting.  Then, in 2011, the author enlarged his essay and published a book, The Checklist Manifesto, which has received laudatory reviews.

The idea of using checklists isn’t that earth shattering – checklists have been around for a long time because they work – by taking what can be a complex activity path and reducing it to bite-sized steps that, as part of a checklist, can’t be ignored.

For example, decades ago, when I was in the Navy, we had checklists for many evolutions (getting underway, anchoring, etc. including checklists of checklists*) –  since then I can’t imagine how a ship’s operations could be undertaken without checklists.  Similarly, I’m aware that even experienced aircraft pilots who know the material by heart won’t begin taxiing without having gone through a tangible checklist.  And, of course, only a fool would pack to go on a backpacking trip without the benefit of a checklist.

As one might expect, Googleing “checklist” will surface many, many checklists available online, most free.  However, few published checklists are perfect for a specific instance.  So, the user is advised to think through the process being modeled and customize any checklist template provided by a third party.

In the business environment, a prominent checklist type is the so-called “Due Diligence Checklist” used in business combinations, angel investments, etc.   Many of these are online and the reader can scout around for one that suits her needs – meaning one to serve as a starting point for one’s own due diligence checklist and process for the situation at hand.

A project I’m involved with now is tethered to a due diligence checklist.  An independent, consumer facing, single location asset manager in the East is considering investing in a presence in the Bay Area because of all the new money here.  I was asked to create a discussion framework to advance the evaluation process.  I took what I could find on the Internet, massaged it, tailored it a bit to the client’s business as I understand it, added to it, etc., and the result in barebones form is here.  Whether it is called a checklist or discussion framework, the purpose is the same: to have a written roadmap that will enable all the bases to be touched.

You’ll see this checklist emphasizes elements thought to be relevant to possible investments in a startup business development office – investments by either or both the investing “parent” as well as the downstream “worker.”  Some of it could easily be borrowed to begin to rough out a checklist for almost any remote startup sales oriented office.

*see, for example, Watch Officer’s Guide, 9th edition, copyright 1961, published by United States Naval Institute, p. 32.


About Krist

Founder, consultant, mentor & concerned citizen. Collaborative, competitive, ethical, & loyal. Companion of Wally who reports at Resident of San Francisco & Laguna Beach. Degrees from Princeton & Stanford.
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