Atul Gawande's book The Checklist Manifesto is a best seller. In it, the author, who is also a medical doctor, discusses the value of creating checklists for a huge range of tasks, from disaster response to investment banking.

In a Harvard Business Review podcast, he turned his attention to the business world, citing a study of venture capitalists by psychologist Geoffrey Smart, who looked at how the VCs made important investment decisions.

The bottom line: "The ones who took a more checklist-driven approach had a far higher success rate [in partnering successfully]," Gawande says. They also had a higher return on their investment. And yet "only 13 percent," Gawande says, "took the...checklist-driven approach."

One way to get comfortable with the process of making checklists is to...use a checklist.