The Checklist Manifesto – it sounded like a get-your-life-in-order-using-one-more-organizer type book, but then Bill Gates and Jack Dorsey endorsed it – I had to read!
The message is simple: Checklists work. Especially in getting the dumb things out of order.
The important insight that Atul brings out, is that a checklist, which is primarily a means to enforce central decisions can in fact be used to facilitate decentralized decision-making. How? By reminding people that they need to talk and take decisions, of course! And he uses examples from fields as diverse as surgery, construction, even hurricane-relief to support this.
My favourite anecdote from the book was about Van Halen – Halen and David Lee Roth used to have elaborate contracts with music halls before every concert and part of those contracts was a line item that required the organizers to have a bowl of MnMs with the brown ones picked out.
My first reaction to this was “Ok, he must be an insane guitarist, but he’s also crazy”..but he wasn’t..he was very clever in fact! His performances generally required heavy tech equipment (which he outlined to painful detail in the contracts) and missing even a tiny component could ruin the whole show.
‘A bowl of MnMs in all colours apart from brown’ was his checklist for validating that they had ticked all boxes in their checklist.
Now THAT is brilliant!