The use of a checklist in any complex activity is absolutely essential. Having come from that same group of people Aaron and Bean were a part of, and going into private industry, I am floored at the waste generated by mistakes. Mistakes that could have been avoided if someone properly used a checklist. i.e. when you have it in front of you, you actually use it. We call it pencil whipping the checklist.
I also love your statement about not knowing what problems you missed. The other danger of any complex technical project is not knowing what you don’t know. It happens. But the rate of an unknown problem killing your project can be sharply mitigated if your developers are busy thinking about what they don’t know, rather then trying to remember all the complex steps they do know. Your are absolutely right, checklists help us avoid devoting brainpower to remembering well defined tasks.
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