Some months ago a friend recommended a book that I thought was called the List Manifesto.  In my lifelong effort to accomplish more, efficiently, I have purchased many time management and productivity books.  I get quite excited about the possibility of being in control.  As it turns out they usually require consistency and routine.  Yikes.  Not my strengths.

Still, I got a copy of The Checklist Manifesto hoping to glean some new tricks.  Imagine my surprise when the topic of the book is the value of checklists as a tool for safety and security.

And what does this have to do with innovation and creativity?  I think this book is a brilliant argument for evolutionary creativity.  Determining the procedures that make a difference is creative and important work.

The author, Atul Gawande tells riveting stories of how the lowly checklist has enabled amazing feats. Whether in construction engineering, the airplane cockpit or a hospital, the consistent use of checklists has helped to save lives.  As chaotic as my own work is sometimes, I really like the idea that engineers and pilots have a strict protocol and follow it.  Every time.

In the complex world of surgery the rigorous use of a ninety-second checklist reduced deaths and complications by more than one-third in eight hospitals around the world–at virtually no cost and for almost any kind of operation.

Gawande is compelling writer.  He’s also dead-brilliant: a surgeon, a staff writer for The New Yorker, an associate professor at Harvard and leads the World Health Organization’s Safe Surgery Saves Lives program. Oh, and he’s a MacArthur Fellow.  When he says checklists work you can take his word for it.