Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘getting things done’ Category

How Turbo Gets Things Done

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This is a screenshot from Turbo's implementation of "GTD" software, Thinking Rock, which is based out of Australia.  Thinking Rock, in combination with GTD cloud-based app Todoist, along with Google's Gmail and Calendar, helps Turbo keep most of his project and to do balls in the air.

This is a screenshot from Turbo’s implementation of “GTD” software, Thinking Rock, which is based out of Australia. Thinking Rock, in combination with GTD cloud-based app Todoist, along with Google’s Gmail and Calendar, helps Turbo keep most of his project and to do balls in the air.

This blog post is coming hot off the Mac simple word processing app, WriteRoom, NOT my recently rediscovered Royal manual typewriter.

I decided this blog post would just have to go down burning some carbon.

I wanted to continue my theme of “getting s— done” by writing a little bit about my own approach to putting David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodology into actual practice, both by elaborating a little about my own approach and mentioning the tools I use.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been a faithful subscriber to the cloud-based taskmaster, “Remember the Milk.”

Though I can absolutely recommend RTM, I’m making some changes for 2013, and have done a little migrating.

My primary replacement tool(s) are a combination of the following:

1) Gmail

2) Todoist

3) Thinking Rock

Allow me to explain.

Nothing beats tying (most) everything back to the cloud, and Gmail’s calendar feature is as good as they come for “remembering” specific tasks (via their “Reminder” function, tied to the Google calendar).

But in the spirit of exploration, I moved from RTM to Todoist (purchasing a year-long subscription for about $30 U.S.) because I liked the simple project structure and user interface (and, the fact that they support just about every computing and mobile device I have!).

And, because I can tie it to my Gmail inbox and calendar, I get daily emails reminding me of what my latest “to do’s” are.

But, with all that said, I still didn’t feel Todoist had the GTD structure I was looking for, especially when it came to breaking down individual projects/tasks.

So, I’ve revived my use of “Thinking Rock,” software from an Australian software provider, as it provides a much more structured interface and database for GTD management, IMHO.

Though I’ve not yet paid for the “full” version ($39 for a license that covers all future upgrades and support), I suspect it’s only a matter of time.

You can see a screenshot from my current “project” list in the embedded graphic above.

I like ThinkingRock’s literal embrace of the GTD approach, and find that when it comes time to really spending time to sit and break down tasks for a project or future actions, it provides the kind of easy-to-input-and-use interface I was looking for.

You can read some of the reviews here, so apparently I’m not the only one of this opinion.

So how do I make them all work together?

It’s actually pretty simple.  Whenever I have a new project or action, I use the “Collect Thoughts” feature in Thinking Rock to start the input.

Then, in the project view, as I start to determine specific actions, when I have one with a specific date attached, I input that into Todoist (a minor bit of duplication that I don’t mind), which is then tied to a specific date.

That way, whenever the due date is up, I’m reminded on either that day, or, if I planned ahead giving myself a buffer, in advance of the final due date.

I generally know which actions need to have reminders on the actual due date versus those that have need for a buffer, and this way, I get automated emails from Todoist each and every morning listing the outstanding “to do’s.”

I also sometimes use Google Calendar to have reminders sent for very specific time-gated concerns (doctor’s appointments, concerts, lunch with friends, etc.).

Mind you, this combination is a recent phenomenon, but so far, it’s working well for me.  So long as I keep up my daily and weekly reviews (which are instrumental to a successful GTD strategy), I have a feeling I could be well on my way to a very productive 2013!

Getting S— Done In 2013

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Turbo has started off 2013 with a bang...of his Royal typewriter's manual keystrokes, that is, and all in an effort for increased productivity and eliminating fruitless distractions.  Read the accompanying blog post where Turbo shares some of his productivity tips.

Turbo has started off 2013 with a bang…of his Royal typewriter’s manual keystrokes, that is, and all in an effort for increased productivity and eliminating fruitless distractions. Read the accompanying blog post where Turbo shares some of his productivity tips.

For those of you who thought I was just kidding about writing blog posts using my old Royal manual typewriter…Well, surprise. The first draft of this blog post is being written just that way.

Man, I had no idea how much I missed that unique sound of those little keys striking paper.  It’s been YEARS!

I’ll refer you to my previous post to try and understand the method behind my madness…It was part nostalgia, part need to force myself to better focus in 2013, that brought me to this point. And that is the closest I’ll come to having a New Year’s resolution in 2013.

The next logical question, of course, is okay, Turbo, once you have the post down on paper, then what?

That’s a very good question, and I have not figured that part out just yet.

Most likely, I will use Dragon Dictate to voice enter the second and final draft, and, of course, I won’t do this for every blog post I write, only the ones where I really, really want to focus.

But since what was driving this whole thing was the need to eliminate distractions in hopes of getting more “real” work done, I also wanted to come back to the other topic that has been on my mind lately, and that is multitasking.

That’s another good reason to use a manual typewriter. Not only does it not burn any carbon…It CAN’T do more than one thing at a time, which means *I* can’t do more than one thing at a time.

Every year, at the start of the year, I share with my extended team a “getting stuff done” primer. I lean on the basic precepts found in David Allen’s excellent book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, which, for my money, should be required reading for every knowledge worker in the world.

But I like to keep things simple, so I’m going to share with you the Turbo net net version of GSD (I changed the acronym to reflect my enjoyment of wallowing in the perjorative).

1. Like Santa, make a list of all the stuff you need to do — but check it more than twice.

2. In fact, check it EVERY day, especially at the beginning and end of the day.

3. Scratch out the things you get done as you get them done, and write down the things you want to do as you think of them (including when you need to do them by).

4. Always make note of the things you need to do TOMORROW the night before. Do the same on Friday afternoon for the things you want to do on Monday.

If you follow this simple advice, you will rarely walk into the office and NOT know what it is that you ought to be doing that day.

It may seem ridiculously simple, but it’s a lot harder to put into practice than you might think.

And the other part of the story is, once you have all these things out of your head and down on paper or in your computer: Well, you have to do them.

Which means, you have to stop monitoring your incoming email, waiting for that little bell to ring and giving you that ever-fleeting endorphin high.

You have to stop walking down the hall to your colleague’s cubicle so to compare notes on what’s for lunch.

You have to stop playing Solitaire, or << insert name of game on your work computer >> here.

You have to get back to work and actually…well, you know, WORK!

So, once you’ve made the list, and you’ve listed the stuff you need to do generally in order of when you need to get it done, get to it, one item at a time.

Because multitasking is just another convoluted way of procrastinating.

As Mark Twain told us, ““Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”

I found that quote while I was putting off finishing this blog post!

Written by turbotodd

January 3, 2013 at 1:09 am

A Manual Start To The New Year

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Once again, I don’t think I’m going to make any New Year’s resolutions.

I find bargaining with myself like that to be somewhat whimsical, if not purposeless.

That’s not to say I’m not optimistic about the future. I just find that being practical…being realistic, if you would…has served me better over the longitude of time.

Another thing that has served me well is the very act I’m currently engaged in: Writing.

This blog is now well into its 8th consecutive year, and trust me, if I didn’t like to write, it wouldn’t have lasted this long.

So rather than come up with a list of grand technological projections and prognostications, this year, I’ve decided to go a little more Luddite on you.

Fear not, that doesn’t mean I’m abandoning all social media and going out to live in a cabin in the woods with nothing but a copy of Thoreau’s Walden, or, Life in the Woods and some granola bars.

God, live without Facebook or Twitter for a year, are you *&^@#$# kidding me?! How in the world would I know what was going on in the world, or whose friend’s cat just took its first bath?!

No, I’d never do anything that extreme.

But I did do this: I ordered a new ribbon for my old Royal manual typewriter.

For you kids in the audience who have never seen a typewriter, it’s a small portable machine we used to use to put down our thoughts.

It’s a contraption that…I know, get this…requires NO batteries or electricity (unless you bought an electric typewriter, in which case you were bound to the grid).

Now, again, I want to be straight with you: The typewriter didn’t have a “Like” button, so for many of you, I know, that’s a dealbreaker.

In fact, it had no share function whatsoever, other than taking the piece of paper you were writing on and mailing it to another person. So yes, it was essentially useless for any kind of crowdsourcing.

But, what it WAS good for was sitting down, thinking through an idea, focusing, and actually starting to tell a story or pull together a thesis with no interruptions (instant messages, Facebook messages, direct Tweets, SMS messages, smoke signals…) other than those created by your own imagination

I know, it’s a hard notion to comprehend, focusing, especially when you’ve never had to focus.

And the idea of doing one thing at a time…well, yes, it’s almost heretical in our multitasking times.

But that is one of the things I wish for in 2013.

Because I’ve seen what happens when people become possessed by the multitasking smartphone demons. They remind me of Linda Blair’s head turning round and round in “The Exorcist.”

It’s not pretty to watch, and yet there’s no priest you can call for smartphone demons. You just have to watch the poor person suffer until their multitasking becomes so overwhelming they just have to let their iPhone run out of juice.

Yes, that’s what I wish for in 2013: For people to have the opportunity to focus.

Instead of trying to do everything, and doing it mediocre, I wish to see more people do just a few things, or even just one thing, really, really well.

Come to think of it, at minimum, I’d like to see more people doing just one thing at a time (especially while they’re on the freeway).

Multitasking is highly overrated. There are very few humans who can do it and do it well, and the odds are pretty high you’re not one of them. And studies suggest that people who smoke marijuana do better at cognitive functions than people who multitask.

Put that in your iPhone and smoke it!

So my recommendation: Consider revitalizing American productivity by using a manual typewriter.

No, you won’t be able to directly enter that blog post into WordPress (although perhaps that’s a new widget Matt Mullenweig and his team can consider for future versions), but writing that first draft without electricity and with minimal interruptions will be good for the environment and your psychological wellness.

The other thing you might consider is to keep a journal. When I was traveling across America in 1987 in my Volkswagen bus, I used a manual typewriter AND kept a journal, and that period is one of the few times in my life I can actually go back and account for because there’s an actual record.

If you use a Mac, DayOne is a great journaling app that makes it very easy to journal and allows you to even synch up your entries into the cloud (if that gives you even a small sense of permanence).

It’s January 1st, and I promise I’m going to get started on all this just as soon as that new replacement ink typewriter ribbon I had to order off the Internet arrives via the mail.

Those things are harder to find than an iPhone 4 case these days!

Written by turbotodd

January 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm

DIY

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I’m not much of a DIYer.

I’d rather go out and buy a new something than try and fix an old something.

And I think it’s genetic.  The primary tools my father had in his garage while I was growing up were a driver and a three wood (golf clubs!).

But sometimes, one has no choice but to channel their inward Ben Franklin-ness because circumstance requires it.

One example: My beloved 55” Sony Bravia TV (which I bought way before the volume discounts kicked in, thank you very much) had a thermal fuse go out.  I knew inviting my friends from Sony to come fix it in my home was at least a $400 mission.

I did some research to find the heart of the problem, and found a Web post that generally explained how to replace the thermal fuse.  It wasn’t open heart surgery — but it wasn’t removing a cuticle, either.

One day, while the light was still good, and by following the instructions I found online (including very helpful pictures!), I had the TV in pieces in no time, the fuse replaced, and the cover back on, TV working, in about 90 minutes.

You’d have thought I had won the lottery, judging by the smile on my face.

Recently, I had a similar, if less dramatic, episode.  I hadn’t used my Acer Aspire Netbook in a while, but I’d recently moved my home office back upstairs so I thought the Acer would be a good “downstairs” computer (I know, I clearly have too many computers).

When I turned it on, I realized there was a problem.  Even though the battery indicator suggested the machine was charged, when I removed the AC power source, the computer died.

Fail!

I immediately went online to look for a new, but cheap, replacement battery.  But as I entered the query “acer aspire one battery” and started glancing through the results, I saw links not only for replacement batteries, but for “fixes” for people having issues with the battery on that particular system.

Turns out, it was a long known and acknowledged problem, and it had a possible fix: Download the BIOS update onto a USB stick and reboot the machine with a special command.

Sounded easy enough.  And surprisingly, it was.  What took me about 5 minutes to research and implement saved me on the order of $30, along with shipping and handling, and also spared the planet the premature demise of a perfectly good laptop battery.

I checked the next morning, and the Acer battery (their 6 cell batteries are good for 6 hours or so!) was fully charged and raring to go.

More importantly, I got the satisfaction of solving a not-too-terribly-complex problem by doing a little investigating, and then following through.

Now if I could just find a similar article that would help me consolidate all my different iTunes libraries.

Written by turbotodd

February 7, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Celebrating Social Media Week: Our Big Blue Social Business

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Remember the logo, that curvy red “e” that mimicked the “@” symbol, which came to represent what IBM meant by the idea of “e-business” back in the late 1990s?

Starting in 1997, the IBM e-business logo signaled IBM's focus on helping organizations transform themselves using Internet technologies. It's now helping them pursue similar transformations with "social business" adoption.

Well, imagine replacing it with a curvy “s” instead and calling it “social business” instead, and you’d have a pretty good symbol for describing IBM’s social transformation inside the company, as well as the market it’s helping to make for other companies and organizations around the globe to follow suit.

IBM: The Social Case Study

As we celebrate “Social Media Week,” I wanted to write a post to let people know some details and facts behind IBM’s social transformation. As the largest consumer of social technologies, IBM is a case study for this transformation into a social business.

This goes beyond IBM’s business in social software and services (IBM’s collaboration software, consulting services, analytics/social media research, conducting Jams for clients).  IBM is leading social business on all fronts – technology, policy and practice.

IBM takes social networking seriously —  to develop products and services, to enable sellers to find and stay connected with clients, to train the next generation of leaders, and to build awareness of Smarter Planet among clients, influencers and other communities.

What’s Past Is Social Prologue

IBM’s social media activity dates back to the 1970’s when its mainframe programmers started online discussion forums on the System 370 consoles. For 15 years, IBM employees have used social software to foster collaboration among our dispersed 400,000 person team — long before Generation Y became fixated with social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

I remember, because when I joined the company in 1991, I used to collaborate with fellow employees in other locations via IBM’s internal mainframe.

Then, in 1997, IBM recommended that its employees get out onto the Internet, at a time when many companies were seeking to restrict their employees’ Internet access (I’d gotten on the commercial Internet starting in 1993 myself).

In 2005, the company made a strategic decision to embrace the blogosphere and to encourage IBMers to participate (I started this blog in June 2005).

In 2007, IBM launched its own social networking software for the enterprise: IBM  Connections. My team now uses Connections to collaborate and coordinate work literally around the globe. I’m not quite sure how we got along without it (but we used to say the same thing about email!)

This is a screenshot from an IBM Connections Community that I use to manage a workgroup of people who attend a weekly call I've been holding for nearly six years now. The Connections community streamlines the time I have to take to manage basic details for the call, ranging from communicating where files are located to highlighting the call-in number. In short, I'd be lost without it, and be much less productive in my day-to-day work!

In early 2008, IBM introduced social computing guidelines to encompass virtual worlds and sharing of rich media. (Remember Second Life?? Yeah, me neither…well, kind of.)

And later that year, IBM opened its IBM Center for Social Software to help IBM’s global network of researchers collaborate with corporate residents, university students and faculty, creating the industry’s premier incubator for the research, development and testing of social software that is “fit for business”.

Social Business Means Business Change

Here’s a profound stat: According to Gartner, in 2010, only five percent of organizations took advantage of social/collaborative customer action to improve service processes.

IBM sees social media morphing into what we view as a key requirement for “social business” — as tools for organizational productivity and culture change, for engaging with diverse constituencies of clients and experts, and for spurring revenue growth and innovation for our global workforce.

Today, IBM views itself as one of the most prolific users of social networking in the industry with one of the largest corporate-wide communities on social media sites.

Some examples of IBM’s internal social media footprint today include the following:

  • 17,000 individual blogs
  • 1 million daily page views of internal wikis, internal information storing websites
  • 400,000 employee profiles on IBM Connections, IBM’s initial social networking initiative that allows employees to share status updates, collaborate on wikis, blogs and activity, share files
  • 15,000,000 downloads of employee-generated videos/podcasts
  • 20 million minutes of LotusLive meetings every month with people both inside and outside the organization
  • More than 400k Sametime instant messaging users, resulting in 40-50 million instant messages per day

The screen above has become one quite familiar to IBMers around the world. "LotusLive" emeetings have become commonplace, helping employees across multiple geographical locations come together in real-time and virtual space to meet and get work done!

If you were to glance outside IBM on the social media external to the company, you’d find a continued and expansive footprint of IBM participants:

  • Over 25,000 IBMers actively tweeting on Twitter and counting
  • Approximately 300,00 IBMers on Linkedin. This number is growing at 24%/year, which gives IBM the largest employee presence of any firm on the platform.
  • Approximately 198,000 IBMers on Facebook

Putting Social Into Action

Our social business initiatives have had a profound impact on IBM’s business processes and transformation. By way of example, well before the phrases “Web 2.0” or “social media” came into being, IBM was using online jams to drive business initiatives and values development across the company.

As our own CEO Sam Palmisano explained, “Jams have helped change our culture and the fundamental way we collaborate across our business.”  We’ve conducted jams both for IBM and our clients, including the Innovation Jam in 2006 which led directly to the development of the business opportunities that preceded our Smarter Planet agenda.

So, from that perspective, it becomes evident a massive internal social exercise that allowed the employees of IBM identify a major strategic shift for the company!

When’s the last time you let your employee base determine a massive strategic direction that your company was about to take??

Human Resources Are Inherently Social

IBM’s HR hasn’t been untouched by the social business evolution. Our HR professionals use social media for tech-enabled recruiting (think LinkedIn), employee education, sales training and leadership development.

By way of example, IBM relies on social media for leadership development from the first day on the job.  IBM’s Succeeding@IBM makes new hires become part of a social group for the first 6-12 months, so that they can get better acculturated into IBM with other new hires.

In 2006, hundreds of thousands of IBMers came together in a 72-hour virtual jam to help identify the emerging business opportunities that came to represent IBM's "Smarter Planet" initiative. This was "crowdsourcing" of a massive scale, and led to over $100M in internal investments in these important new business opportunities.

In point of fact, IBM’s recent study of 700 Global Chief Human Resource Officers found that  financial outperformers (as measured by EBIDTA) are 57 percent more likely than underperformers to use collaborative and social networking tools to enable global teams to work more effectively together and 21 percent of companies have recently increased the amount they invest in the collaboration tools and analytics despite the economic downturn.

Most recently, we’ve launched an internal initiative entitled “Social Business @ IBM” on our intranet which serves as a resource for IBMers to better educate themselves about social media and various social initiatives taking place internally, while also helping enable them to participate in the broader social media.

We also host modules that provide the IBMer with an introduction to the social web, where they learn how to use social computing tools to foster collaboration, develop networks, and forge closer relationships…with people who are often halfway around the globe!

Social = Transformational

When people tell me they still have to go into an office my response is, “How primitive.”  Don’t get me wrong, I love to press the flesh, but I’ve found that in this flatter earth, increasingly globalized realm, where my colleagues and I have to work all different hours, the question that always comes to me is “Who has time to waste sitting in a car?!!!”

But more importantly, the social business evolution I’ve witnessed at IBM is truly transformational.  When I started work at IBM in the summer of 1991 as a greenhorn intern, we DID go to an office every day and we DID have meetings face to face all the time and I DID wear a white shirt and blue tie.

These days, I can’t remember the last time I went into the IBM office, and yet I feel more connected and more productive than ever.  Why?  Well, I won’t lie, even if I sound like a commercial — the IBM technologies, from our IBM Lotus Sametime Instant Messaging to Lotus Notes and IBM Connections largely remove time and geography from the productivity equation.

But I would suggest there’s an even more transformational thought at work: IBM now trusts its employees in ways it never did before, and the democratization that social tools brought forth has also brought us a democratization in decision-making.

I now make front line decisions that, 20 years ago, would have been driven through a host of hierarchies and managers at a pace that likely would have been acceptable in terms of those times.

Today, such delays would be completely unacceptable and even uncompetitive, as decisions often need to be made instantly. But based on both the technological and cultural transformation within IBM, that’s okay, I’m expected and trusted to make those decisions.

And finally, social business, like social media, is also just plain more fun.

It’s as if these tools enable you to have the whole world at your fingertips.  And that makes for a smarter planet and  a smarter, more competitive IBM.

Working Better Together

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I arrived here at the Palau de Congressos de Catalunya this afternoon, where the IBM Industry Summit is being held.

But this morning, I worked remotely from my hotel room.

Something I’ve done a lot of this year. Working remotely.

Away from home. On airplanes. In coffee shops. In bars. On vacation (but not very often).

Via my BlackBerry. And now my iPhone.

What is work? Where is work?

Work is definitely not someplace I go, although I go a lot of places.

Work is definitely not constrained by a clock or calendar, at least not in the way it was during the Industrial Revolution.

Work is definitely not bounded by an office or even a country.

Of course, this is a far cry from when I started my career in 1991.

Back then, work was mainly an IBM office, with my IBM white shirt, going to an IBM location in Southlake, Texas, working with mainly my IBM colleagues.

We were still international back then — that’s been a part of our name almost from the outset — but I would argue we hadn’t been “globalized.”

Working remotely with colleagues was limited to some amigos in The New York Times Custom Publishing Company, an IBM partnership with whom I worked on several IBM customer publications.

Want to know how we collaborated across great time and distance during that Jurassic Age?

One, via FedEx.

Two, via a mainframe terminal session in VM/PROFS. (For you of the Facebook generation out there, VM was a much more reliable social collaboration tool without the relationship status updates and no graphics.)

Oh yeah, and via Ma Bell.

A lot’s changed since then.

Most of the people I work with now don’t work in an office.

Many of them aren’t located in the U.S.

None of them on my team are in Austin, where I live (or, as I like to joke, where I visit).

How is that possible?

In a word, technology.

In a more specific word, software.

Starting with Lotus Notes back in the mid-1990s, and later our instant messaging product, Lotus Sametime, and most recently, using Lotus Connections, I have transcended time, space, and location. And so have 400,000+ of my IBM colleagues around the world.

Because work is no longer a time or a place or a clock or a date.

Work is a neural network.

Work is a collective human organism, billions of neurons connected together, sharing information and knowledge, wisdom and resources, expertise and insights.

With Lotus software, work is wherever you may be in the world, because it connects you to whatever or whomever in the world you may need.

Work is available increasingly on whatever device or contraption you wish to carry around, including the mobile ones, for the rest of you who are on the go.

Work defies time because it’s always there.

It defies space because, unlike me, it doesn’t need an airplane to arrive.

It brings out the best of IBM and allows us to find and share the best with all our constituents: our partners, our suppliers our customers.

That is something that will increasingly distinguish the best organizations around the world.

I work for one of them.

You can read here how you can use Lotus Software to become one of them, too.

Dateline: My Barcelona Office, Palau de Congresso de Catalunya, Sala A….for now.

Making A List, Checking It Twice

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Dr. Atul Gawande's "Checklist Manifesto" makes a compelling argument for making that list and checking it twice, even in the most expert of white collar professions.

I’m a big fan of checklists.

I’ve been attempting to properly drink the Robert David Allen Getting Things Done Kool-Aid for a couple of  years now.

Inherently, I think knowledge workers like myself have to find improved ways of managing their time, projects, responsibilities, etc., and I’ve discovered that even the most basic and mundane checklist (whether or not you use GTD methodology) increases my productivity and helps me maintain my sanity.

At minimum, I feel as those it’s helpful in offsetting whatever Alzheimherish proclivities I may be developing.

But checklists aren’t just limited to personal productivity.  They’re also a great way to share and implement knowledge, often in the most dire and life-altering of circumstances.

Just ask Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, a 2009 tome on how checklists can assist even the most modern of professionals in its approach to providing a disciplined adherence to essential procedures “by ticking them off a list,” often preventing fatal mistakes and corner cutting.

As Publisher’s Weekly observed in its own review of the book, Gawande examined checklists across a wide range of industries, including aviation, construction, and investing, along with his own medical profession, and was able to demonstrate that even the most simply mandated checklists (hand washing in hospitals) dramatically reduced hospital-caused infections and other complications.

Though I’m all for the medical folks washing their hands to the extreme, particularly if I’m the one going under the knife, I’m even more excited to report that Dr. Gawande will be speaking at the upcoming IBM Information on Demand Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 24-28.

Dr. Gawande is a MacArthur fellow and a general surgeon at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, as well as a staff writer for The New Yorker. In his spare time, he’s also an assistant professor at Harvard Medical school and the Harvard School of Public Health.

In his own Amazon-published review of Gawande’s checklist approach to life, last year’s Information on Demand keynote speaker Malcolm Gladwell had this to say about the book:

Gawande begins by making a distinction between errors of ignorance (mistakes we make because we don’t know enough), and errors of ineptitude (mistakes we made because we don’t make proper use of what we know). Failure in the modern world, he writes, is really about the second of these errors, and he walks us through a series of examples from medicine showing how the routine tasks of surgeons have now become so incredibly complicated that mistakes of one kind or another are virtually inevitable: it’s just too easy for an otherwise competent doctor to miss a step, or forget to ask a key question or, in the stress and pressure of the moment, to fail to plan properly for every eventuality.

Gawande then visits with pilots and the people who build skyscrapers and comes back with a solution. Experts need checklists–literally–written guides that walk them through the key steps in any complex procedure. In the last section of the book, Gawande shows how his research team has taken this idea, developed a safe surgery checklist, and applied it around the world, with staggering success.

Even before I downloaded the first chapter of Gawande’s book on my iPad and started reading about the helpfulness of checklists, I’d already become an adherent.

Now, I would recommend you make your own list and include Dr. Gawande’s keynote talk at the top of yours for the 2010 Information on Demand conference.

In the meantime, you can learn more about Dr. Gawande via his “Annals of Medicine” column for The New Yorker here.

Written by turbotodd

September 29, 2010 at 6:00 am

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