Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Saturday, January 30, 2010



Lots of things we do as orienteers require working together and some discipline. Think about organizing an event or work with a club to put together a good relay team. Lots of things we do require some discipline, but not much working together. Think about training or fieldchecking a map.

Could "checklists" help orineteers?

Atul Gawande makes a good case that checklists can help people when you need to work together and when you need discipline. You can find out about his book on Gawande.com.

I've used various checklists in my job. Some of them have worked well. Some haven't. In retrospect, I think I understand why some of them worked and some didn't. It had to do with how we designed the checklists. Some were designed with great care. Those tended to work.

In orienteering, I can only recall two checklists I've used.

I used to have a list of everything to pack before I went to a race. Compass - check. Neoprene socks - check. Contact lenses - check. It seems like a reasonable idea, but it was actually pretty useless. All it takes to make sure you don't forget something is to think about your routine for a race and then pack that stuff.

The other checklist I had was a list of things to do within the 30 minutes of finishing a race. I was having trouble recovering for the second day of a 2-day event. I'd wake up for the 2nd day feeling drained and sore. I decided it was because I wasn't taking care of some important stuff in the first 30 minutes after finishing the first day. I made up a little list. It had maybe 6 items, things like: drink some sport drink; deal with any bumps, bruises or cuts; get on warm, dry clothes; and so on. Really basic stuff. I actually used that checklist and, I think, it helped.

Gawande's book got me thinking a lot about checklists and inspired me to do some experiments with them. We'll see how that goes.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 11:14 AM


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