I'm watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and his guest is Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto. I've blogged about him before, and I use checklists for everything but getting out of bed, but I'm still amazed by three things.
One is the difference that checklists make. The hospital that first implemented a checklist system just to stop infections estimated that checklists saved 1500 lives a year. That's staggering. I wonder how many aircraft accidents checklists avert.
Another is the amount of time it has taken this simple safety device to move from one industry to another. Boeing introduced checklists in 1935 after their test pilots forgot to remove a gust lock and crashed a prototype B-17. It makes me wonder what safety or efficiency techniques I could find in other industries and steal to improve mine.
And finally I am surprised by the reticence of people to adopt the system. I shouldn't be, because I've seen myself the machismo that denies the benefits of acknowledging anyone else's expertise. But as Mr. Gawande pointed out, most people have seen their entire lives that people in high profile macho jobs like astronaut work from checklists. Even Han Solo and Chewie used checklists on the Millennium Falcon.