Checklist Manifesto

Atul Gawande

Can something as simple as a checklist save lives? In “The Checklist Manifesto“, Atul Gawande makes a point about the impact of checklists on high-risk fields like aviation, surgery, engineering, and so on.

Mathieu CéralineMathieu Céraline April 12, 2020

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-risk 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.


What is "The Checklist Manifesto" about?

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. A 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. Buy on Amazon.


Can checklists really make a difference?

In the last couple of centuries, our daily life has become 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 fallible, 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

Surgeons practicing a surgery, following a checklistSurgeons practicing a surgery, following a checklist

How can surgeons make sure they do everything right to save their patients' lives?

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 :

A girl writing a checklist, next to a computer.A girl writing a checklist, next to a computer.

Checklists can be amazingly useful in most fields.

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 fascinating. 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!

A plane flying in the sky | Review of The Checklist Manifesto by Adul Gawande.A plane flying in the sky | Review of The Checklist Manifesto by Adul Gawande.

How can pilots make sure they do everything right to save passengers?


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