September 28, 2010
Managing by Checklist
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, started as an article in The New Yorker a few years ago by Atul Gawande and then turned into a book as well (book, Kindle). I haven’t read the book; the story in the article is about life-and-death issues and how Intensive Care Units in hospitals work most successfully when they “manage by checklist” — they keep thousands of small steps performed by different people in order.
The story is very telling for business as well and reminiscent of David Allen’s productivity books, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity and Ready for Anything: 52 Productivity Principles for Work and Life. The reality as far as I’m concerned is that no matter who you are, no matter what role you play in an organization, my guess is that there are some routine or recurring tasks you perform where having a tight checklist is a no-brainer. Between eliminating missed steps and increasing productivity by not having to reinvent the wheel…we may not be saving lives in dramatic fashion in most businesses, but we all have jobs to do and want to do them as well as possible.
Thanks to my colleague Tami Forman for pointing me to this. At a minimum, the article is a great read. And oddly, I had this post drafted for quite a while – I decided to post it today when I saw Jeff Ogden’s post about the same topic in reference to yesterday’s emergency landing at JFK.