[Note: originally published on "improving outcomes blog" on 2Feb2010.]
Checklists are not a new concept. However, they have been generally under-appreciated for the benefits they can bring to complex tasks in a simple and unobtrusive manner.
In many situations people try to over-specify and over-control processes with lengthy policies and procedures that no one reads, remembers, or follows. It is not that these policies and procedures are bad, it is just that they need to be accompanied by simple checklists that ensure that the key policy goals are being met.
Here is a checklist that we used for our Change Control Process. It was used to ensure that you were prepared for the Change Control Board meeting. If you came to the meeting with this checklist completed then you would quickly get approval to move forward. Download Change Control Form.
I haven't personally read it yet but The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande (Dec 2009) revisits the power of the ordinary checklist. You can listen to the Harvard Business IdeaCast, Using Checklists to Prevent Failure (22 Jan 2010), which is an interview with the author. A commentary on the book can be found at The New York Times: Freakonomics Blog: The Checklist Manifesto.
The following research and information about checklists are also very useful:
- The Logic and Methodology of Checklists by Michael Scriven (2000, 2005, 2007).
- Guidelines for Developing Evaluation Checklists: The Checklists Development Checklist (CDC) by Daniel Stufflebeam (2000).
- Western Michigan University, The Evaluation Center - Evaluation Checklists
- Warren Buffet Disciples Using Checklists to Improve Investment Results (24 Jan 2010).
- Using Checklists to Evaluate Risk Factors (8 May 2002).
- Using Checklists to "Standardise" Content (2 Feb 2003)
- Helpful checklists for students (2 Sep 2009).