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Summer Reading — A Manifesto Of Simple Power

June 4, 2010
by Joe Bormel
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Add This To Your Summer Reading List

For most people, the power of checklists is a concept that's just too simplistic. There are people who are wedded to a perception that checklists primarily zap autonomy. These checklists implicitly represent overbearing, parental control.

At the other extreme, there are people who really appreciate process and discipline. For them, checklists, and I mean really good checklists, are a god send. These two groups of people never have lunch with each other!

The fact is, as Dr. Atul Gawande elaborates beautifully in his book, “

The Checklist Manifesto,” checklists in healthcare are much more than autonomy zapping or a panacea of discipline then one may ignorantly conclude. There are several notions Gawande covers that are both highly relevant to HCIT and not well represented today.

For instance, the idea that there are two different checklist models which address different problems:

DO-CONFIRM checklist


READ-DO checklist

In the first, people work from memory and experience, then the checklist ensures completeness. In the later, people, often in teams such as pilot/co-pilot pairs, work using the checklist more like a recipe.

For more on this concept, just start the book this summer at chapter six,

The Checklist Factory. Here you'll learn how Boeing publishes and revises checklists for every aircraft; they've learned a ton about what works and what doesn't, what pilots need and what they don't. This isn't intuitive stuff. For example, “Do you test your organization's checklists in simulators?”

Another insight in the book elaborates why traditional project management techniques are inadequate when multiple sub-specialists are involved, and what to do about that problem. It's yet a third kind of checklist that has been critical and effective for decades in the construction industry. But that's another chapter and another blog post!

Lots of great stories and a wonderful read (or listen). And, highly relevant to HIT design, build, test, and deployment work. Highly recommended.

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