On Sunday (5/15/2016), the final match of the Premier League season for Manchester United and Bournemouth was canceled due to a bomb-scare blunder watched worldwide in real-time and disbelief. After 70,000 fans were escorted out of the stadium in emergency fashion, it was discovered that a dummy bomb—designed to look like an authentic one—was not removed from the stadium at the conclusion of a training exercise conducted by a private security company. We’re guessing a checklist of what to do after a training exercise didn’t exist or was ignored by the security company — another lesson in the critical need to have (and use) operational checklists.

(Note: This post is about checklists that should have been followed days before the bomb scare. We have nothing but kudos for the match-day decisions by the authorities. Safety and precaution dictated their response, as it should.)

Checklists prevent highly trained, specialized workers from making dumb mistakes.

In a 2007 New Yorker magazine article and subsequent bestselling book, The Checklist Mainfesto, Atul Gawande, a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and a staff writer at The New Yorker explored the history of and need for checklists.

In professions like medicine and aviation, the practice of reviewing formal checklists before every procedure saves countless lives each year. At the same time, countless lives are lost each year when hospital checklists are ignored.

First introduced by the U.S. Air Force, aviation checklists have enabled pilots to fly aircraft of mind-boggling sophistication. A checklist played a vital role in the miraculous savings of lives when U.S. Airways Flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River.

Checklists can also help a small business (or individual) manage things that are extremely complex — or seemingly routine.

A checklist to review that all the technology is working as desired, before each and every presentation you make, can be the difference in making a sale or appearing inept.

Checklists not only help pilots, surgeons and engineers from making dumb mistakes, they can keep dummy bombs from blowing up a major sporting event.

Do you use formal checklist routines in your business? A private security company is wishing it did.

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