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Three Instances Where Checklists Have Worked—and How

Why you should learn to love checking boxes.

  1. Cybersecurity
    What would Angelina do? (Yes, that's a young Jolie in Hackers.) Follow the Department of Homeland Security's proposed 478-question checklist or a Symantec employee's five-step plan to investigate a possible breach? Checklists that grow from a wallet card to a fat binder defeat their value.
  2. Fast-food workers
    Checklists can guarantee consistency, but people make the mistake of thinking that they're just for less-skilled jobs like McDonald's. To the contrary, pilots—and now doctors—have shown their broader utility.
  3. Outsourcing deals
    Banks, retailers, and other companies that hand over their services to a third party benefit from baking checklists into the contract. Questions—such as, "How will performance be measured?"—can prevent outsourcers' remorse.

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