More About Checklists

A Pilot's Checklist

I was recently surprised during a visit to a local supermarket when I observed a young girl with a small bar code scanner checking the items in a shopping cart. Later at checkout, sure enough there was a half-dozen of the devices in a rack ready for thrifty shoppers to take with them as they travelled the aisles. They ware automated checklists! A customer scans each item, watches the total, and thus has a running account of their individual purchases and total amount spent.

As we mentioned in a previous post, the Team Powered Success program uses a Weekly Checklist as an essential tool in training reams to navigate the classic stages of team development. And while we first developed the checklist format in 2005, in fact the whole concept of the value of developing and using a checklist has been the subject of a couple of books we highly recommend.

The first book is Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals by Peter Pronovost, M.D. PhD. The book is subtitled,  How One Doctor’s Checklist Can Help Us Change Health Care from the Inside Out. A publisher’s blurb states that this is an inspiring story of how a leading innovator in patient safety found a simple way to save countless lives. You can read more here.

We found it an absorbing read not only for its insights into the world of day-to-day medicine but also that cultural shifts that needed to take place before the checklist became accepted.

The second book is The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, subtitled “How to Get Things Right.”

Again, one reviewer states in part [that] “humblest of quality-control devices, the checklist, is the key to taming a high-tech economy, argues this stimulating manifesto. Harvard Medical School prof Gawande notes that the high-pressure complexities of modern professional occupations overwhelm even their best-trained practitioners; he argues that a disciplined adherence to essential procedures—by ticking them off a list—can prevent potentially fatal mistakes and corner cutting. Read more here.

Given the needs for teams to chart their progress and well as their set backs, we have made the Weekly Checklist a cornerstone of our programs. These two books give more insight into just how valuable this “humblest” device can be to a team.

Q: Do you use a checklist?



About Bob McCarthy

Originally from the Northeast, I now call Southwest Florida home. I have been a professional copywriter and editor since 1979, both freelance and in house. I have had article published in regional, national and international magazines. Plus, a video for which I wrote the script won an industry award as Best Training Video.
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