A friend of mine recently recommended (and lent me) the book: The Checklist Manifesto - How to get things right. This best selling book by surgeon Atal Gawande was written in 2009. Through stories of his surgical experiences and those of the airline industry, Atal describes how, with our ever expanding knowledge and technology, many activities have become very complex. And, with this complexity, comes the risk of errors and omissions. This is especially true for simple errors that we overlook while focusing on the more pressing and critical concerns. His solution: simple, practical checklists. Such 5-9 item checklists set out: the necessary/critical steps, ensure the team is working together, and help "get the dumb stuff out of the way."
For simple and even complicated but relatively routine activities, detailed schedules akin to classic project management tools are espoused (i.e. Gantt and PERT charts). For complex decisions and anomalies, there is a need for teamwork, communication and discussion/debate to ensure the best decisions are made. Here, simple checklists that cover the process of getting the right people together are invaluable. Your projects should, of course, incorporate all of these tools in an appropriate fashion.
Other excellent reviews of the key take aways can be found on Amazon, however the book is easy reading and the stories get you thinking about how checklists could be most effectively applied in your own endeavours. My one complaint is that the book contains no checklists! Checklists covering how to prepare one and how to test one would have been great. Here are my attempts, alongside a mind map summary of the book's key points: