I read this book back in 2010 and I still think about it on a regular basis when it comes to simplying complex tasks or making something in my written communication clear. I have always been one to love checklists! Then again, I AM a project manger! Talk about a profession that loves checklists!
I think this passage in the book so completely captures the importance of the checklist:
Here, then, is our situation at the start of the twenty-first century: We have accumulated stupendous know-how. We have put it in the hands of some of the most highly trained, highly skilled, and hardworking people in our society. And, with it, they have indeed accomplished extraordinary things. Nonetheless, that know-how is often unmanageable. Avoidable failures are common and persistent, not to mention demoralizing and frustrating, across many fields—from medicine to finance, business to government. And the reason is increasingly evident: the volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably. Knowledge has both saved us and burdened us. That means we need a different strategy for overcoming failure, one that builds on experience and takes advantage of the knowledge people have but somehow also makes up for our inevitable human inadequacies. And there is such a strategy—though it will seem almost ridiculous in its simplicity, maybe even crazy to those of us who have spent years carefully developing ever more advanced skills and technologies. It is a checklist.
Gawande, Atul. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right (p. 14). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.
The book outlines some of the incredible research and robust complex examples of using checklists in the airline industry, medical profession and more. The studies and improvement in areas like surgery and crises on a plane convinced me that checklists are not only invaluable, but necessary in today’s world.
I have a checklist that I use every time I build a website. This checklist has saved me from forgetting super important things that one might easily forget when bringing up a new site for someone.
It’s an awesome read and it will forever change your mind around taking the time to create a good checklist.