In his recent book The Checklist Manifesto, Dr. Atul Gawande says “The volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably.” Gawande’s proposition that a checklist can dramatically improve this situation is supported by numerous examples.
- In 2001, Dr. Peter Pronovost at John Hopkins devised his own operating room checklist, and reduced the rate of infections related to IV tubes from 11% to zero.
- Gawande shows that when Captain Sullenberger famously landed US Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson, with no loss of life, Sullenberger and his co-pilot followed a detailed emergency checklist that multiplied his chances of pulling it off.
- In 1935 Boeing’s B-17 crashed on its first test flight because it was too complex to operate. The pilots came up with a checklist, and then went on to fly 1.8 million miles without an accident. The army ultimately ordered 13,000 B-17s – and pilot checklist became universal.
According to the Checklist Manifesto, here’s the perfect checklist for making a checklist.
- Include all “stupid but critical” tasks so they are not overlooked.
- Make it mandatory for team members to know when they complete one of the tasks
- Empower subordinates to questions their superiors about the checklist
- Allow for improvisation in unusual circumstances
- Thoroughly test-drive your checklist before putting it into practice.
Sounds to me like a good simple recipe for sales process or methodology. What do you think?