A checklist is a tool that can be used to outline a set of 'things' that need to be completed.
Since humans have limited memory and attention, checklists help us accomplish tasks that would otherwise be too complex or error-prone.
The key idea is that checklists are a tool to help us increase accuracy and consistency.
- A shopping list
- A list of items to pack before travelling
- A list of people to invite to a party or wedding
- Pre-flight checklists for airplane pilots
- A surgical preparation and safety checklist
Why It Is Useful
The human mind doesn't do well when faced with complex but repetitive tasks. We tend to forget or skip important steps, which results in mistakes, accidents, and other problems.
Checklists let us outline procedures we can follow each time we perform a repetitive task, helping us get the same result each time without mistakes.
Case 1: A shopping list is
Case 2: A travel checklist works the same way as a shopping list. By writing down all the items you need to take with you ahead of time, you reduce the chances that you will arrive at your destination without socks.
A travel checklist can also be kept, re-used, and perfected over time so that whenever you travel you can rely on the same, time-proven checklist to make packing quick and accurate.
Case 3: The pre-flight checklist is very important to pilots. Some studies have shown that checklists have had one of the largest positive impacts on air travel safety in the history of flight.
Case 4: Similar to air travel, checklists in the operating room have had an amazing impact on the success of many different types of procedures. Simply having a list of surgical tools in the room beforehand, which gets verified after, can limit how often someone wakes up with something still inside of them ...
How It Fits Into The Latticework
Charlie specifically mentions checklists:
I’m a great believer in solving hard problems by using a checklist. You need to get all the likely and unlikely answers before you; otherwise it’s easy to miss something important.
I like to use a checklist to list all my other Mental Models so I don't forget to apply one in any given situation.
Pick a process that you follow on a regular basis, create a checklist for that process that lists all the steps in order, then going forward follow your new checklist whenever you execute that process. You should find that it helps you finish faster while also reducing errors.
Please share your thoughts on this Mental Model or the post itself in the comments below!