Jack's Reviews > The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
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's review
Jan 15, 10

it was amazing
bookshelves: social-science
Read in January, 2010

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 things only smart people can do. And he uses several very nice examples to build the case that doctors, the smart people he is most interested in, are currently often idiots. In particular, these idiots insist on trying to remember everything all the time, rather than using simple back-ups (he calls them check-lists) to insure they haven't forgotten a silly detail. This, he suggests, means they frequently forget silly (but life-saving) details, AND they have to spend an enormous amount of time and energy trying to remember all those details, instead of doing real problem solving. He is right, and he explores this and explicates in such a powerful and subtle way that it's remarkable. It frankly changed my thinking.
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