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The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande - Book Summary

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande - Book Summary

Take-Home Message

  1. Most tasks today have become very complex. Using checklists helps to reduce mistakes and sets you up for success.
  2. Using a checklist can enhance team communication, a vital component of completing complex tasks.
  3. If you’re constantly making mistakes in your tasks despite your expertise, try using a checklist. Medical checklists, for instance, have already saved many lives.

My Highlights

  • Just ticking boxes is not the ultimate goal here. Embracing a culture of teamwork and discipline is.
  • Knowledge has both saved us and burdened us.
  • The philosophy is that you push the power of decision making out to the periphery and away from the center. You give people the room to adapt, based on their experience and expertise. All you ask is that they talk to one another and take responsibility. That is what works.
  • The philosophy is that you push the power of decision making out to the periphery and away from the center. You give people the room to adapt, based on their experience and expertise. All you ask is that they talk to one another and take responsibility. That is what works.
  • It is common to misconceive how checklists function in complex lines of work. They are not comprehensive how-to guides, whether for building a skyscraper or getting a plane out of trouble. They are quick and simple tools aimed to buttress the skills of expert professionals.
  • The checklist cannot be lengthy. A rule of thumb some use is to keep it to between five and nine items, which is the limit of working memory.
  • Good checklists, on the other hand, are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations. They do not try to spell out everything—a checklist cannot fly a plane. Instead, they provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps—the ones that even the highly skilled professionals using them could miss. Good checklists are, above all, practical.
  • Discipline is hard—harder than trustworthiness and skill and perhaps even than selflessness. We are by nature flawed and inconstant creatures. We can’t even keep from snacking between meals. We are not built for discipline. We are built for novelty and excitement, not for careful attention to detail. Discipline is something we have to work at.
  • No, the real lesson is that under conditions of true complexity—where the knowledge required exceeds that of any individual and unpredictability reigns—efforts to dictate every step from the center will fail. People need room to act and adapt. Yet they cannot succeed as isolated individuals, either—that is anarchy. Instead, they require a seemingly contradictory mix of freedom and expectation—expectation to coordinate, for example, and also to measure progress toward common goals.
  • The second type of failure the philosophers call ineptitude—because in these instances the knowledge exists, yet we fail to apply it correctly.

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