Book Notes: The Checklist Manifesto (Atul Gawande)
Posted on December 28 , 2015
Here are a few notes I took while reading The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande. Admittedly, the notes are sparse. Although the book makes powerful points, the whole thing could be condensed into a few pages. Instead, it provides 200 pages of anecdotes and examples. Helpful, for sure, but largely repetitious…
Notes, but mostly concentrated on tech/software applications:
- Human memory and attention frequently fail, especially when under routine or mundane matters
- Steps are skipped, even when remembered, because they’re usually not needed
- Checklists prevent that — minimum necessary steps (explicit)
- Complexity in projects demands checklists. Without, too easy to miss steps or spend a ton of time worrying about basic needs.
- Create a discipline of higher performance
- 2 types of lists: general purpose (starting a new project, etc) and debugging/issues/edge-cases
- Clearly define pause points for when checklists should be used
- Successful teams have specialized and individual roles, but all are involved (especially verbally) in discussing the overall goals, steps, and status
- Use a simple, usable, and systematic form
- Can be painstaking and harassing to our egos. But, for high stakes and high complexity, vital — requires a culture shift.
- Gets the dumb stuff out of the way and frees your brain from worrying about the routine tasks.
- Does not turn us into step following, heads-down robots. Quite the opposite. Freeing.
- Discipline needs more emphasis within professionalism, over sole focus on individual autonomy
- Lists require frequent revisitation and refinement