Can a simple checklist save lives?
Can something as simple as a checklist save lives? In his book “The Checklist Manifesto“, Adul Gawande makes a point about the impact of checklists on high-risks fields like aviation, surgery, engineering, and so on. Not surprisingly, I decided to dive into this book and make my own researches. Here is what I took out from them.
Summary | The Checklist Manifesto
In a society where complexity is everywhere, from flying an airplane to building a skyscraper or performing a difficult surgery, we cannot just rely simply on pure talent anymore. Surgeon by day, writer and researcher by night, in his compelling book “The Checklist Manifesto“, Adul Gawande builds a strong argument for the power of… checklists.
For the author, as simple as they seem to be, checklists have the power to prevent what seemed like unavoidable failures in most fields and bring us one step closer to excellence and safety.
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Can checklists really make a difference?
In the last couple of centuries, our daily life has became amazingly more complex. Today we send rockets to space, we transport hundreds of thousands of people every day in planes, cars, buses, yet… as smart as we became we are still just humans. And, as the latin saying remind us : “Errare Humanum Est”, humans are faillible, so the best way to survive and avoid making mistakes is through systems and you guessed it, checklists.
“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. And by remaining swift and usable and resolutely modest, they are saving thousands upon thousands of lives.” — Adul Gawande
I personally believe that checklists, as long as we can trust them, can be applied anywhere and in any field. For example, right after writing this post, I personally intend to build my own checklists for fields where I know I would need the help :
- Writing, publishing and sharing new content online (I usually overlook some steps like sharing it to most platforms),
- Building websites and working on projects with clients or friends,
- Studying… where I would honestly benefit from a little more structure.
I might write a more detailed post on how to write effective checklists in a near future, once I master the skill myself.
Review | The Checklist Manifesto • 5/5🌟
Although rather short (around 225 pages), I found the book absolutely passionating. The author, Adul Gawande, brings us alongside him in his anecdotes as a surgeon as well as his researches and experiences for the World Health Organization.
I’m neither a doctor or pilot, yet I was absolutely fascinated to read about how something as simple as a checklist can help pilots save countless lives in plane crashes, or how architects and engineers work together to build complex buildings or skyscrapers and avoid them from falling on our heads.
As the name itself suggest, The Checklist Manifesto is not an actual checklist on how to make checklists (although it gives interesting insights), but rather a fascinating and enlightening argument of their impact on our world and maybe, in your field!
More ressources on checklist and productivity
- [Book] : “The Checklist Manifesto” by Adul Gawande
- [Video] : “This productivity system can save your life” on Matt D’Avella’s YouTube channel (the video that inspired me to read this book)