The Checklist Manifesto

I took a walk through Jefferson and the Geography building recently. I guess that’s the most recent development in the life of my LEEP project as of late. Things went pretty similarly to the other building audits I have done this summer. I took a stroll with my clipboard, jotted down some notes, and talked to whoever I ran into. At times it can be difficult for me to know the kind of things I should be writing down as I go. Often times I find myself taking notes that are not things that can go down as work orders. Often time they are questions. I know there is a motion sensor in here, but where is it? I asked myself this one as I was making my way through the third floor of Jefferson. For those who have not been to the History Department, which is located on the third floor, here is a picture for reference.

A view of the third and fourth floors of Jefferson

A view of the third and fourth floors of Jefferson

If you’re at all like me the first thing you might notice is just how many lights there are in this one hallway. It seems to me like this hallway is just asking to be lighted in an intelligent way. Instead, however, the open ceiling is filled with even more lights.

I learned from someone working in her office that these, and the majority of lights in Jefferson, are on motion sensors (only the lighting in the stairwells are not). I guess this is a good way to deal with the problem of needlessly over lighting the space, but it does not get to the root. Are two levels of wall sconces and overhead lights really necessary? I could not get the lights on the motion sensors to turn off, so I guess I will have to make a trip back to really see what the space looks like with less light. I’ll stop and make a note that removing all of the sconces on one level would likely result in the space being dim. However, what if some of them had the bulbs removed? Debulbing, in addition to being a fun word to say, is something that has been on my mind as of late. It’s one of the first things that Jenny and I talked about way back in May, and, to be honest, it slipped my mind until recently. I guess the only way to put my theory to the test would be to hop up on a chair and unscrew me some bulbs. But it’s getting late now and there’s a tornado warning, so that can wait until tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, I have a meeting with Chief Goulet scheduled. If you read my last post, you might remember that I came across an outdoor light that is always on outside of the Biophysics building. Since then I have noticed at least two others like it. One is outside of Wright Hall and one outside of Bullock Hall. In my meeting with the Chief tomorrow my goal is to learn exactly what constitutes a safety light in order to see if these seemingly useless lights have any real use in being on. I’m also hoping to meet with someone from Alpha Graphics, a printing company that’s run out of the basement of the University Center. That sentence in weird enough on its own. I was supposed to receive an email with a date and time to stop by, but that never came. Looks like I’ll be taking a trip there tomorrow as well. I dropped by last week right as the woman down there was running out the door. She was sure to tell me about all the recycling she does, though. While that’s definitely a good thing, I am more interested in all the machines running in that one room.

Speaking of lots of machines, let’s talk about the third floor of the Geography building. Before the beginning of the summer I had never actually stepped into a room of cubicles. Now I have. On top of everything else I’ve gotten out of this summer I can add not wanting to work out of a cubicle to that list. Hell, maybe that will even be the title of my poster at Fall Fest. Just kidding. Don’t worry, Jenny. Anyway, there’s a lot of things running up there from copy machines to computers at empty cubicles. Of course I was not about to step into an empty cubicle and mess with someone’s personal computer, but I walked past plenty of empty cubicles that appeared to have their monitors running.

These running monitors are a perfect example of something a properly worded checklist might take care of. I’ve been reading a book lately that I would highly recommend that you check out. It’s The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande.

The Checklist Manifesto

The Checklist Manifesto

Gawande’s background is medicine. Surgery to be exact. Surgery and checklists. Over the first hundred or so pages Gawande goes through a series of real life situations in which checklists proved useful. Then, he makes contact with Daniel Boorman, “a veteran pilot who’d spent the last two decades developing checklists and flight deck controls for Boeing” (Gawande). Boorman distinguishes between good and bad checklists. Good checklists, he says, “are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations.” They accomplish this by leaving out select things. Most of the checklists that pilots run through are comprised of fewer than ten steps. Many are even short than that. Any more steps and they risk becoming too cumbersome. “A checklist cannot fly a plane … [and their] power is limited,” Gawande surmises. All they, checklists, can do is “help experts remember how to manage a complex process.” Have I quoted this book enough to let you know that I like it yet? It’s definitely going to be a big help as I move forward into drafting my own checklists. I have a pretty good idea in regard to how I would like to organize my checklists at this point, which is cool.

So. Things that are new: more meetings with various staff members, new results from building audits, a better idea of what my checklist will look like, and a tornado warning. Sounds like the makings of a good week.





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