Checklists Help NASA Launch Rockets. How can your business benefit from a checklist?

5 Min Read
Checklists Help NASA Launch Rockets. How can your business benefit from a checklist?

What do NASA astronauts, surgeons, pilots, and engineers all have in common? How did they increase their success, reduce mistakes, improve safety, and increase productivity?

It’s nothing complicated, it’s such a simple tool with many examples of proven successful results. It’s a humble Checklist.

So powerful it can help launch rockets into space and help people walk on the moon!

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Checklist Success

Checklists aren’t a new concept but one used during WWII to improve safety and avoid accidents for the B-17 Bomber pilots. Thus the pre-flight checklist was born.

In 2009 Atul Gawande published his book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. Explaining how in a complex modern world with so much knowledge that human minds can’t keep track of it all. For example in complex tasks within medicine and architecture where lives can be lost with every mistake. Focusing on what needs to be done in an emergency situation and is often overlooked.

Now employed in hospitals to help decrease complications and death rates after WHO implemented the Surgical Safety Checklist with the help of Gawande reducing death rates by a staggering 47%. These results were higher than any drug

NASA even uses them to launch shuttles and make spacewalks.

NASA Checklists

NASA implemented checklists as a solution absolutely everything to greater efficiency, consistency, and improve safety. 

Making enormous tasks like a spacewalk into a much easier and safer process. Also acting as a guide to guaranteeing important steps and processes was completed and not forgotten in such a major expedition.

Great images are available at NASA of the many checklists they devised to increase accuracy and prevent errors.

Apollo 12 CDR Cuff Checklist

Apollo 15 Launch Checklist

Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Checklist

Apollo 16 LM Lunar Surface Checklist


Checklists Gives Focus

Mountains of work can be overwhelming but checklists help make sense, simplify and direct focus of attention to the important tasks.

Working through a checklist frees up time spent worrying about forgetting things so spending more time focusing on the tasks at hand.

Protecting us from failure by establishing a standard operating procedure to follow and guiding us in the best possible way to achieve our goals.

Increase Productivity and Decrease Stress

This simple solution of creating a checklist to improve productivity reduced mistakes and make life less stressful.  Relieving the mind of the pressure to remember. Cognitive overload decreases productivity and increases stress.

A space to check what the process is and the steps needed to complete that job perfectly. Empowering team members and giving them the ability to suggest changes when things are not working.

Checklists allow you to spend more time focusing on the correct tasks.

Offering guidance in the decision-making process of the whole team.

Getting into Checklists is a Process

There is a simple process you need to follow to document and produce your checklists.

Checklists can be highly effective when doing repeatable tasks and ongoing business process management.

NASA Creating a Checklist Process


Understand your processes.

Watch and note down steps, complexity and role within the whole process.

Document Processes

Record and define your processes.

Create supporting documentation.

Trial Documented Process

Follow you documented process step by step.

Does it work?

Are you missing steps?

Do steps need to be broken into smaller steps?

Do you need additional items or departments to be involved?

Is there a timescale for each step?


Refine and improve your processes.

Did you forget important steps?

Do you need to change the order?

Who or which team member could do this step the best?

Must the steps run in order?


Teach others how to use your checklist of processes.


Nothing is ever perfect and ongoing refinement and input from others can really help make the process optimal.

Checklists can help save time, prevent mistakes, so improve productivity and profitability.

Its works for NASA to launch a rocket, use that power of a checklist to make your business reach for the stars. :-))

Nasa Checklist on Spacesuit
Nasa Checklist on Spacesuit
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