I thoroughly enjoyed The Checklist Manifesto. Written by surgeon Atul Gawande, the checklist is presented as a tool, not only to prevent failure, but to increase performance. The book is filled with interesting examples of how checklists are applied in diverse fields like aviation and medicine; and the difference between DO-CONFIRM and READ-DO checklists. The book also chronicles Gawande’s own experience implementing a pre-surgery checklist for the World Health Organization.
While reading this book, I was experiencing a problem of my own at the office. Our Night Assistant Editor was exporting the show episodes to the network incorrectly. Exporting a cut to the network is a complicated process prone to error, made worse by the pressure to do it quickly. This seemed like the ideal process to apply a checklist to and so I created the Show Exporting Checklist. Any time an Assistant Editor is expected to export a cut to the network my Coordinator or I will printout the checklist and leave it with our Night A.E.. They are expected to fill out it and leave it on my desk for review the following morning.
The goal of my DO-CONFIRM style checklist is to help our A.E. remember of all the steps involved in an export, and to report back any anomalies to the team. I haven’t recorded hard data, but since implementation it feels like the number of errors has decreased significantly. And the information we gained from our Night A.E.’s observations has provided the producers and editors with valuable information about their episodes as well.
I highly recommend The Checklist Manifesto and thinking about the ways a humble checklist can improve your own work.