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.