The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
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by Dr. Atul Gawande
I just finished listening to the audible version of this book and managed to get through it in a weekend. I think it is an easy read, so most people should be able to read it all in a couple of days.
Dr. Atul makes a very strong case for using checklists to turn very complex tasks into steps that will help you avoid forgetting to do something. Airline pilots use them, skyscraper builders use them, surgeons are starting to use them. Now that I've read the book, I think there are places where I could use them in my work and become much more efficient.
Checklists aren’t meant to regiment a job, but to ensure that the mundane tasks that are easy to forget, but important to the outcome, are not done to completion. I liked his stories about being tasked with creating a Safe Surgery Checklist that could be used in all countries and hospitals in the world. He traveled to far corners of the world to witness the poor conditions and lack of funding and found that the checklist that the WHO team created did work. It helped save lives, build team work, and cut costs.
To build his checklist and to write the book, Dr. Atul met with builders of skyscrapers to learn how they turned the old way of building (using a Master Builder) to a team-based group of super specialists. The success is a result of checklists and communication among the specialists.
He met with the aviation experts who create checklists for airplanes. These checklists have helped in many notorious flight problems, including the crash in the Hudson last year. Was Sully a hero or was his team simply following procedures and checklists?
Financial experts are starting to use checklists to ensure that they take the emotion out of their decision making process. When looking to invest in a company, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of the deal rather than to systematically analyze every aspect to ensure that you aren’t missing a key fact. The financial experts who are using checklists are making tons of money!
After the surgery teams had used the surgery checklist, they were surveyed to see what they thought of the process. The answer to one of the questions sums up the success: Would you ever have surgery in an operating room that doesn’t use the checklist? 98% of the respondents said NO, they wouldn’t have surgery unless there was a checklist!
Great book… can’t wait to hear what Dr. Atul Gawande has to say to the audience at IBM’s Information on Demand Conference.