Here is a book after my heart. It explains and convincingly proves the role of these little (and as the book shows, not so little) lists that can supposedly better everything – from reducing rates of infection in hospitals, to flying a Boeing safely, to giving you an edge in the world of investments.
An easy read that gives you a ‘dekho’ into the world of medicine, construction and aviation. A short book – it’s racy and interesting.
How much I can actually use this wisdom (even me, the queen of checklists), is more difficult to imagine as the book mainly talks about the benefits that a well drawn out check-list can bring to the most complicated and complex industries – where a check-list is typically scorned for being too simplistic.
And since my work is not rocket science, I think my simple ‘to-do’ checklists are what will work best for me at the end of the day. This is the main drawback of the book, as it does not seem very relevant for ordinary everyday folk.
What got me thinking though, was a beautiful concept, which I have christened the ‘Communication check-list’. This list is nothing but a schedule of dates, requiring all stakeholders to meet as per the given schedule, so that all the many different (and often specialised) jobs and people are all on the same page.
This may sound like one more meeting. But the big idea here is to work towards a common goal – a sports day meet, a root canal surgery or the launch of a store – and catch glitches, problems and issues even as they occur, so that remedial action can be taken before it is too late.
If only someone had gifted this book to the organisers of CWG. Sigh.
One of the ways to use a communication list as a parent,, would be to regularly talk to the husband, in-laws, parents, siblings – and the all-important house help – about issues affecting the kids and how we need to speak in one voice about them (eg. buying toys, TV allowance, candy consumption etc).
Which as obvious as it may sound, does not always happen. Then I’m all upset that my son has watched 3 straight hours of television at his grandparents over the weekend or has been caught extorting a few candies a day from the maids!
The best part of ‘The Check-list Manifesto’ is the over-riding idea that sometimes the simplest actions can be the most effective.
The author proves this with many examples – one of them being the fall in childhood mortality rates in the slums of Karachi, where NGO’s launched a ‘wash your hands’ campaign and handed out free soap, bringing the death rate down by almost 50% thanks to this basic initiative.
The humble checklist falls in this category. As our gadgets, laptops and phones become hipper and fancier, we turn our nose up at something so effective and easy to use. Sometimes to our own detriment.
So all you check-list aficionados out there, run out and get your hands on this book (I borrowed it from Just Books) and sit back and enjoy.
And for the non-believers – this is your chance to read a factual and thought provoking book. On why this simple invention still rocks.