Friday, January 9, 2009

I don't like checklists

I've never liked checklists. A little piece of paper telling me what to do and how to do it. I always wonder who made the checklist. What gave them the right to tell me what to do? I don't mind "to do" lists that I make myself. Then I'm just reminding myself to get stuff done that I want to. Of course, a checklist would have helped me on one camping trip where we ended up with no spatula to flip pancakes.

Several years ago I took my kids to a Young Eagles event. They give kid's a chance to fly in small planes (my daughter got to be the pilot as well!). As my kid's were getting ready to get in the airplane, the pilot carefully went through his checklist. I thought it was a little silly since he had been flying groups all day and had probably already checked his plane a dozen times.

Recently, I came to a better appreciation of checklists while on a project at work. A coworker, who happened to be a certified flight instructor, helped me understand better the value of checklists. Checklists are one reason why flying is safer than driving.

More recently I read a magazine article on checklists (I must have been really bored in the doctor's office, but I'm glad I read it). It talked about the value of checklists in many businesses. The most obvious is in hospitals, where checklists actually save lives.

Okay, so if you have read any of my blogs, you might realize that I'm about to make an analogy. So, here it is.

Checklists are like morality and religion. There are a lot of people who don't like morality or religion and see them as some arbitrary rules that some unknown person invented who has no right to tell anyone what they should do. Yet, like checklists, morality and religion can provide value in many ways, safety being a big one.

I could go on and on but I'm tired and I'm sure you get the point :-)


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