The Americans developed the B-17 bomber during World War 2 which helped win the war. The B-17 was the first aircraft to get a checklist.
This came about when, on the first B-17 flight, 3 men were seriously injured, and a few days later died, when the aircraft stalled shortly after take-off. After further investigation, it was found the Captain had left the elevator lock on, and the aircraft was unresponsive to pitch control.
During a think-tank session, it was determined that the pilots needed a checklist. It wasn’t a condemnation of the pilots, or that the aircraft was too hard to fly, rather the aircraft was just too complex for a pilot’s memory. Today checklists are a vital part of many professions including airline pilots and surgeons.
The checklist is one of the most brilliant cognitive aids devised by some very smart humans. Hidden in this deceptively simple format is a type of performance support that has saved lives in the air and on the operating table. Every profession or job has a place for checklists.
Checklists work well for both beginners and experts because they free up brain resources, sparing the user from having to remember every element of a process or every item to verify.
Benefits of Checklists
Checklists get universal use because they:
Disadvantages of checklists
Checklists do have a few negatives, but not many
Types of Checklists
Maybe one of these types of checklist may find a use among your projects:
Checklists for Performance Support
Using checklists for performance support is not a new concept. In her book, “Job Aids for Performance Support”, Allison Rossett explains that for a job aid to qualify as performance support, it must “… house valued information, processes or perspectives that target a need or task.” A simple “To-Do” list may not qualify as performance support, but guiding a team member through a process or helping an analyst evaluate a product to make a decision will qualify.
Checklists can be downloaded into a Modlette using the document function.