Saving the World, one Checklist at a Time

One day a few years back I heard about some producer who wanted to do a reality TV show about environmentalists. They wanted real life environmenatlists; you know, the people who spend all their time chained to bulldozers to resist pipelines, swinging from construction cranes to hang banners or rescuing whales that are caught in fishing gear. This 'reality' TV idea came up while I was visiting a local environmental organization. Once the concept was explained the room was silent, then someone in the back of the room said: 'They want to film us sitting through endless meetings and while we read multi-volume reports?' Everyone started to laugh.

Needless to say, the show was never produced. 

Just like many other jobs, working in the world of standards, accreditation and certification can be dull. We create standards, guidelines and principles; then we turn them into checklists. With a blank checklist in hand we go through stacks of policies, procedures, practices and all kinds of other files; then we interview people and ask them all the same questions just to fill in the checklist and see if everything has been done and done right.

The work in standard systems is not going to get you a starring role in the hottest new reality show, but it is work that keeps us moving forward. Not just so that things continue to work, but to make them work better. We know that each application of the standard can help save an ecosystem, keep water clean, make sure workers are well treated, keep children in school, strengthen a community and so make the world a better place. 

Transforming markets takes dogged perseverance. It takes work over years to create innovative standards, conduct high quality accreditation, certification and auditing. It takes a hell of a lot of checklists.

So every morning when I start my day, I tell myself that I am saving the world, one checklist at a time.

You are too.