Van Halen knew that the execution of great performances lies in the details.

The Story

The great American rock band, Van Halen, is well known for several chart-topping hits and sold-out concerts. The impact they can have on your business involves a story about Brown M&M’s..

Back in their prime, Van Halen traveled the United States putting on concert productions larger and more spectacular than had ever been seen before. Hours of preparation and proper execution by hundreds of people was required to pull off these events. This is where the brown M&M’s come into play. Van Halen’s performance contract to the promoter included a section containing the band’s requirements. If these requirements were not fully met, the promoter would forfeit the show at full pay. One requirement in the contract stated that no brown M&M’s were to be found backstage. The band required M&M’s as part of their agreement; but, the brown ones needed to be removed prior to their arrival.

The brilliance of this story lies in the band’s reasoning behind the brown M&M’s. (If you want to hear the story straight from the horse’s mouth check out this link! http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2012/02/14/146880432/the-truth-about-van-halen-and-those-brown-m-ms)

Why the Brown M&M’s?

The band created this requirement as a safety measure. They knew that the production they were putting on was state-of-the-art. At the time, Van Halen traveled with the biggest lights, sound equipment, and stage than had ever been seen before. If proper installation was not done; the band and fans would be in serious danger. Thus, the brown M&M’s requirement was born. The requirement was included in the middle of the installation safety instructions. If the band arrived to brown M&M’s backstage, they knew that the proper safety measures had not been taken and would require a more thorough examination prior to the concert. If the promoter did not go through the safety checklists provided by Van Halen, they would definitely miss the brown M&M’s but more importantly they could risk putting people in harm’s way.

Your Business

The moral of the story is this: Van Halen utilized a checklist that contained step-by-step instructions to ensure that the performance they put on was the best it could possibly be. They went a step further by utilizing the brown M&M’s as a safety measure to gauge whether or not the checklist had been followed correctly.

Your business needs checklists. Your team needs the tasks they are responsible for specifically documented and laid out to be followed every single day. It doesn’t matter how long you have been doing things or your team members have been with you. We are all human and we all forget. Design your checklists to be all-encompassing and don’t forget the specific details.

Without checklists, the bathrooms are forgotten, garbage cans remain full, and tissue boxes empty.

Exceptional patient experiences are executed in the details.

Dr. Nathan UnruhDr. Nathan Unruh, CXO SIDECAR

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