Successful Projects Made Simple
Atul Gawande (pictured) is a surgeon, writer, and researcher, who wrote one of our favorite books, The Checklist Manifesto, http://atulgawande.com/book/the-checklist-manifesto/which is an exhortation for the use of a simple tool in hospital operating rooms to prevent errors and improve outcomes for patients. You can probably guess from the title of the book that the simple tool is the checklist.
Now, if your immediate reaction is dismissive, and you’re wondering how a surgeon can have anything to say about control systems projects, you are exactly the kind of person who should read the book, because Gawande gives examples of the power of the checklist in multiple lines of business, including healthcare.
We often overestimate our ability to do correctly the things we know how to do, especially when the task is complicated. Most of the mistakes made in operating rooms, for example, are made due to the omission of a critical step or steps that the operating team knows how to complete. They are usually not the result of a lack of knowledge.
The use of a checklist for the simpler, more routine items can dramatically improve outcomes, because it leaves room for the brain to focus on more complicated, difficult tasks.
Creating the checklist is one thing. Using it is quite another. Gawande advocates putting someone in charge of seeing to it that the team diligently follows the checklist. The previous item works much better if the checklist created by your team is well thought out and actually useful. The team will disregard a poorly-designed checklist.
Gawande has actually created a checklist for creating checklists to avoid the problem of a team not using the tool. You can find it here http://www.projectcheck.org/checklist-for-checklists.html
Read the book. It’s packed with useful ideas that you can apply as part of your approach to managing your project to successful completion. And you’ll enjoy the story of why Van Halen insisted on having all of the brown M&Ms removed before they were placed in a bowl in their dressing rooms.
How do you see your team applying this simple tool?
At Pendant, we’re as passionate as you about the importance of project management to make sure that what you see in your mind at the outset of your project is what actually happens.
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