Read: The Checklist Manifesto

I picked up this book based on an Amazon “you might like this book” recommendation while searching for books to read.

I did wonder how the author, Atul Gawande, would weave a story about the simple checklist into a full-blown book. I mean checklists are everywhere, simple to create and even simpler to forget.

By relating the many stories about the medical profession, the book kept me interested enough to keep going. I especially liked the story about the 13-year-old girl that drowned in a lake but was brought back to life.

But I couldn’t help think, what do these stories have to do with checklists.

Only in the middle part of the book, when he introduces us to the construction industry, does the author go further into checklists and where I found the key message that made the book worth a read.

Key take aways

We may have the knowledge and capability to do certain things, but due to time constraints and the situation at hand, might forget certain steps. Checklists help in making sure the essential steps have been covered.

It may be difficult to gauge the benefits of checklists in and of themselves, but numerous case studies have shown that it is better to have a checklist than not have one. The financial investor stories.

Checklists excel in simple tasks but open communication is needed for complex tasks and situations. This was related in the construction site visit as well as in the operating theatre. When the unexpected arises or when we are not sure what is going to happen, open communication between all parties involved can help reduce risks.

And the most interesting part is how the simple checklist and introducing yourself and going through the tasks beforehand, can have an effect on creating teams.

One thing I attempted after finishing this book was in a briefing. Recalling that a simple introduction and allowing the others to speak first could increase their participation, I started with an introduction and then asked the person I was briefing what they wanted to know (rather than jump straight int the briefing). It is a limited test but seemed to enable our briefing to be more interactive and invite discussion. Will try this again in a larger training group with perhaps a control group where I just jump in and start the training.

For easy recall

  1. Create Checklists (cover the essentials)
  2. Open Communication (when things get complicated)
  3. Talk before Execution (build teams)