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The Checklist Manifesto

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  27,068 Ratings  ·  2,586 Reviews
We live in a world of great and increasing complexity, where even the most expert professionals struggle to master the tasks they face. Longer training, ever more advanced technologies—neither seems to prevent grievous errors. But in a hopeful turn, acclaimed surgeon and writer Atul Gawande finds a remedy in the humblest and simplest of techniques: the checklist. First int ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 23rd 2010 by Penguin India (first published December 22nd 2009)
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Petra Eggs
The Checklist Manifesto is not as helpful as Gawande's previous books - especially Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance which improved my business quite a bit with the injunction to 'count something' (so we did, everything, and saw the patterns. You should see my spreadsheets now! (Just as an aside, as an artist I am good at statistics I can see the patterns. Can't do maths though, never even got to GCSE level on that).

Where this book really made a difference is in operating theatres. They a
Peter Derk
We all have those books that sit on a nightstand, half-finished for weeks, right? Months? Maybe a year?


Well, at some point you have to look at them and say, "I may not be finishing that one."

Or, alternatively, you can look at it and say, "Man, fuck this book."

It's not like there was anything terribly wrong with the book or anything. I just...I feel like I got the idea pretty early on.

Humans are to the point where we've uncovered so much knowledge that human minds can't hold all of
Apr 25, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, mba
Before starting, I read quite a few reviews that described it as an extended magazine entry. And I went in skeptical; I was curious how much one could say about checklists. I see lists as a great way to get things done. As long as they are simple and directed, they can focus my attention and keep me on task. So I went in a list enthusiast, but still skeptical.

This book argues checklists help us be more effective with complex tasks, by focusing us on what needs to be done and is often overlooked
Dec 08, 2010 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My having read - and enjoyed - a 200-page book about using checklists suggests that I'm a cocktail party nightmare, but I found this to be very much a worthy read. At the heart of it, this is really a book about management and efficiency. It's got a lot more "manifesto" in it than "how-to" though, which makes it both easy to plow through and easier for mass consumption. I actually wish it were more scientific and systematic than it turned out to be, but even as it rambles, it's thoughtful and in ...more
Glenn Sumi
Jan 04, 2015 Glenn Sumi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Surgeon and New Yorker writer Atul Gawande explores how using a humble checklist can reduce simple human errors, saving lives, money and time.

Curious about how checklists might limit post-surgical complications, Gawande examines how they have worked in the fields of construction and aviation, where errors could potentially kill hundreds or even thousands.

His results, written in lively and clear prose, are eye-opening, with fascinating glimpses into operating rooms around the world as well as bus
Jan 09, 2010 Trevor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Over the last couple of years I’ve been studying and some of the subjects I have done have presented me with an assessment rubric. This is a kind of checklist which sums up everything that is good and bad about checklists to me. The first is that a checklist only really makes sense for highly repeatable behaviours. There is a really good reason why they work so well when landing planes and performing surgery. Things can go catastrophically wrong in either of these, but mostly they go wrong in so ...more
Dec 13, 2015 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
“One essential characteristic of modern life is that we all depend on systems—on assemblages of people or technologies or both—and among our most profound difficulties is making them work.”
― Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto


"Checklists seem to provide a protection against such failures. They remind us of the minimum necessary steps and make them explicit. They not only offer the possibility of verification, but also instill a kind of discipline of higher performance."
― Atul Gawande, The Che
You have to feel sorry for Atul Gawande's siblings. No matter how brilliant their accomplishments, at any family gathering, we know who is going to be center stage. He's not just your average doctor, he's a surgeon. Specializing in endocrine cancer. This astonishingly good book isn't his first - he's written two others, "Better" and "Complications". Of course he's a Harvard professor. Oh yes, he does a little magazine writing. For the freaking "New Yorker", for crying out loud. His essay in the ...more
Mar 01, 2016 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It never ceases to amaze me how systems can get lost in their own complexity as they grow. Something starts out simple, but as time goes by complexity creeps in incrementally. What used to work so well isn't really cutting it any more. Worse, the attitudes & aptitudes that were once mandatory must also be changed. Gawande does a great job of showing exactly this when it comes to medicine.

The doctor that delivered me & cured my childhood colds also did my hernia operation, sewed up our w
How is this book a bestseller? It's not what I'd been hoping for. I expected a grand revelation in this book about a new way to approach making and using checklists to accomplish more, faster. What I got was a bunch of anecdotes about people using checklists successfully, many of them having already done so prior to the author exposing them to the technique.

The author, a surgeon, essentially had just discovered the power of checklists himself and was on a mission to get their usage established a
Jan 15, 2010 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-science
It is easy to hate Atul Gawande. The boyish good looks in a wunderkind surgeon with an extraordinary gift for prose. The first two books were lovely, reading about the experiences I had had and sometimes thoughts I had thought, but far more beautifully expressed than I ever could. It's just not fair.

And then he goes and writes this book. It's really good.

In particular, it is a shamelessly persuasive manifesto for a remarkably simple idea: smart people should focus their smart energy on doing thi
Jun 03, 2010 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, meridian
I am a list person. I have daily and weekly to-do lists and lists of projects I want to do, lists of projects for my husband to do and lists of ideas for summer activities for my boys, lists of books I want to read and places I want to visit. When I can see everything that needs to be done, even if it's an enormous amount, I feel like it's at least possible to get my arms around it and begin.

When I was the credentialing coordinator for a multi-specialty medical clinic, I used checklists all the
Jan 22, 2011 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More lively and fast-moving than you'd think a book about checklists could be.

Gawande speculates about why many people resist using checklists even though research has proven them effective. One reason interested me especially - that they distribute authority within a team. Thus nurses tend to like them more than surgeons, because a checklist provides a nurse with a more powerful voice, a surgeon with less.

I see this book as part of a movement in human endeavor away from organizational structu
Booooooooring... and completely useless. Since I live + die by super-efficient checklists, I thought Gawande would offer how to do them better... at least give us sample checklists of the 1%. No such luck. Just drawn-out tales from hospitals and airports: important yes, but vague and impractical. At least compile actual checklists in the book's index! Imagine reading a cookbook without a single recipe :) Overall, a poorly-constructed read which by Chapter 3 seems like Gawande's way of publicly c ...more
Ms. Smartarse
In my experience, telling people that I like to read is a risky endeavor. There are of course a select few bookworms, who would respectfully respond by asking about my taste in books. Most people's reaction however, tends to fall into one of the following extremes.

1) Utter bewilderment that anyone would STILL be spending time to read books... and for pleasure, no less.

2) Great, let me recommend this absolutely amazing book called--

The first ones I can deal with easily enough: they feed my need
Nov 13, 2012 Malbadeen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I would pay $60.00 to hear Atul Gawande speak.

If my finance* and I did that free-pass for sex with one celebrity thing, I would trade it in for dinner with Atul Gawande.

If there is anything by Atul Gawande available before I get on an airplane, I will always choose it.

The title kind of stinks and probably turns too many people away, which is a shame because it's great!

If you're even remotely considering this book, you've got to read the 1st few chapters about the phenomenal/creepy/awesome medica
Mar 08, 2013 Ahmed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In his third installment, and as the name implies; Atul presents a simple idea that could very well be a cure for human fallibility and an effective strategy to overcome failures. The checklist.

While it is an obvious and rational solution to overcome the inherit ineptitudes of practicing medicine and mastering its complexities, it is a fairly underestimated tool and quite often forgotten.

In his superb narrating skills, he takes you on a journey starting at why we need checklists through how th
Aug 16, 2012 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The surgeon-author makes the case for using checklists to improve outcomes in all sorts of complex things. He starts with an interesting anecdote of how aviation checklists got their start after test pilots crashed the "bomber that was too much plane for one man to fly". He bases the whole book on the premise that in the past man's problem was usually too little information, but now it is too much information and that we need a way to simplify in order not to miss the "easy stuff" that we think ...more
Jan 07, 2015 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Make sure you put down "Read this book" on your checklist.
One of the better and more practical business books have come across.
Rock and rollers might appreciate the tributes to Van Halen's "No Brown M&Ms" policy. One finds it quite refreshing to hear David Lee Roth defend the policy in the name of logistics and supply chain management.
Most of the examples come from the authoris experiences as a surgeon; nevertheless, he generates more interest on the subject and presents it more intelligentl
The Checklist Manifesto: How To Get Things Right, by Atul Gawande, is an interesting book on the power of checklists in complex scenarios. Gawande is a doctor and famous author, and examines checklists mostly from a medical perspective. However, the application of checklists to various tasks transcends disciplines, and Gawande notes this. In various jobs throughout disciplines, oftentimes tasks can become muddled with interruptions and distractions. Even veteran doctors can forget simple things ...more
May 04, 2013 Lightreads rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
More complex than the title suggests. A manifesto on doing difficult, complex, absolutely vital things correctly as much of the time as possible. I talked about this when I read his Better, but he's hitting really close to home with me on this stuff. I'm not a doctor, but it doesn't help to know that there are literally tens of millions of dollars in insurance policies ready in the event I fuck something irreparably up when I know a mistake could wreck careers, fortunes, lives. So how do you com ...more
Dec 15, 2015 Athena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A light read, but an enlightening one. Having worked for decades in a field where checklists are absolutely critical I was astounded that the medical field only recognized the importance of these simple tools when they were shoved down their collective throats. "Look, you - these work!"

For the most part it made me realize how hidebound most physicians/surgeons can be. In the worlds of engineering/software/computing/project management/fill-in-the-blank, the checklist is as important & sometim
Dec 29, 2009 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I liked about this was how personal and specific it was. It spoke of a life that was saved in an operation he performed when a checklist alerted them there was not enough emergency blood in the OR. He pointed to anecdotes and statistics regarding his work with the WHO in creating and implementing a series of checklists. He speaks to master creators of airline checklist about what makes a good checklist and a bad one.Exceptional.

Gladwell's review of t
Dana Stabenow
Oct 16, 2015 Dana Stabenow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"For nearly all of history, people's lives have been governed primarily by ignorance," writes Dr. Gawande.

But sometime over the last several decades--and it is only over the last several decades--science has filled in enough knowledge to make ineptitude as much our struggle as ignorance.

In particular, the practice of medicine and especially surgery has improved beyond all imagination, but the discovery and accumulation--and dissemination--of so much research has overwhelmed O.R. teams to the poi
Jason Cox
Jul 21, 2012 Jason Cox rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any professional
A little over a year ago I heard about this book at a medical conference I attended where we were discussing the benefits of CPOE (Computerized Patient Order Entry) for hospital patients. Based on the recommendations of others at the conference I went ahead and bought the book and finally got to it a few weeks ago. I highly recommend you read this book.

About the Author:
Atul Gawande is a surgeon who both maintains a private practice and consults for the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding w
Jason Miller
Jan 03, 2010 Jason Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with interest in productivity or dealing with complexity
Recommended to Jason by: nobody
I am a professional teacher of mathematics at a good, regional University in the Midwest. In many ways, my job is straightforward. Help students learn enough mathematics to be successful and productive citizens. Sometimes this means preparing them for the 'next' mathematics course they need to take. Sometimes this means giving them a good mathematical experience and increasing their ability to think about things in a mathematical way.

In many ways, mine is a simple job. There's little that's comp
Sep 19, 2015 Noor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-medicine
Gripping from the first page, Gawande main message of the book is simple: information has reached a new level whereby it has exceeded people's capabilities to maintain independently. The solution, according to the author, is the simple checklist.

Gawande compares the medical profession to aviation, engineering, investment banking and the culinary profession, as his message is transferrable to most domains. Long gone are the days where polymaths or master engineers à la Michaelangelo exist, he arg
Mark K.
May 27, 2012 Mark K. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book encapsulates, affirms, and extends my experiences with checklists and procedures that began while I was a nuclear power plant operator for the U.S. Navy, where verbatim procedural compliance is one of the keys to power plant safety. I advocate the use of checklists and procedures in IT operations and in performing other repetitive processes as a means of "not forgetting the important stuff."

It struck me that one of the benefits that Dr. Gawande attributes to checklists is actually only
Gorab Jain
Dec 24, 2016 Gorab Jain rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, non-fiction
Interesting details on how the checklist came into being, its different variations given by the real life examples mostly from healthcare and air force.
Didn't work that well and got bored with the repetitive examples and statistics on how a checklist helps.
Agreed how handy checklists are in this era of overflowing information and complexity.
This book propagates checklist like every damn process in the world could be improvised using a checklist.
Would have been interesting to add scenarios differ
ashish chatterjee
Very well written, with compelling stories on how a mundane and boring thing like a checklist can be a critically useful tool!
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Atul Gawande is author of three bestselling books: Complications, a finalist for the National Book Award; Better, selected by as one of the ten best books of 2007; and The Checklist Manifesto. His latest book is Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

He is also a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and a professor at Harvard
More about Atul Gawande...

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“Man is fallible, but maybe men are less so.” 21 likes
“What is needed, however, isn't just that people working together be nice to each other. It is discipline.
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.”
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