Some of the simplest models take the form of lists. These can be, for example, lists of skills needed for a particular job, or of activities or functions that must be carried out. One of the earliest written models of management, by Henri Fayol, set out a list of functions that a manager must perform (one variation was: Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing, Co-ordinating, Controlling, Reviewing and Budgeting). Even earlier models, before the rise of ‘management’ as a role, aimed to list the key attributes of successful leaders.

These list models turn into true checklists when they set out reminders of the different activities that a person should perform in order to be effective in a particular role – for example, when chairing a meeting, carrying out a recruitment interview, making a presentation, conducting an appraisal etc.

The value of a checklist is that it reminds us not to concentrate all our energies on only one or two areas, but also to pay attention to the whole spread of relevant factors.

Checklists are a very simple format for a model, and as they become more sophisticated, they may turn into other types of model – flow diagrams, or cycles, or polar opposites.