Book Review: The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

The Checklist Manifesto book by Atul Gawande

In our busy world, how do you stay on top of things?  Before computers, we created lists, and then we had pocket organizers that helped us.   With the growth of technology, we have a myriad of electronic gadgets to keep us organized and help us remember those important things in life.

But, what if there were things in your daily life that were so routine you thought you didn’t need a list or a gadget.  Do you think anything could make you more effective at accomplishing these things?

If you said no, pick up a copy of Checklist Manifesto and think again.

Checklist Manifesto is written by a surgeon in the medical profession.  He details his experience and the incredible life altering impact adding checklists had to various medical procedures such as a pre-surgery checklists.

When hospitals instituted the use of pre-surgery checklists the statistics on reduced side effects, secondary infection and loss of life was dramatic.  As author, Atul Gawande, takes you through the process of developing and instituting these checklists, he describes his checklist journey and finding other industries that have adopted checklists to overcome errors in routine thinking that without could have drastic financial implications like in the construction industry.

Imagine how expensive it would be to put a building up and have walls a few degrees off!

One of the most difficult obstacles to overcome when instituting checklists is the fact that no one wants to use them.  Checklists tend to require looking at those little things that some may find to be mundane, but for some jobs, it could cost you your life.

Not long after reading this book, I heard a news story in our area of a small private airplane with four people aboard going down.  A private pilot was in a hurry and didn’t go through his pre-flight checklist thoroughly.  If he had, he would have discovered the fuel tank wasn’t full enough.

Not only did his mistake cost his life, it took the life of three others.  Whether they were aware of or supported the decision to bypass the checklist is unclear.

Now, you may not develop a checklist that if not followed could cost you your life, but you may want to stop to consider what those little things you may be missing or forgetting may be costing you.  Or, you may think you really don’t need a checklist, because you are on top of things.

Gawande thought the same thing, even after the dramatic results he saw with the implementation of the pre-surgery checklist.  However, when he instituted it himself, he was surprised to find out how many little errors were avoided that could have had big consequences as a result of the checklist.  He became a believer.

After reading this book, not only will you ask your medical professionals about checklists they use prior to undergoing any procedures, but you’ll also look at your activities to identify how and where you can use a checklist to be more effective.  As you institute them, see if you don’t become a checklist believer yourself.

 

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About the Author

Polly Scott

Polly is an Assistant Vice President for CMOE and specializes in organizational management and executive coaching. Polly also has years of experience in sales and marketing, strategic leadership, leadership principles and execution. She is dedicated to listening and understanding the goals of clients.