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The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  60,209 ratings  ·  5,138 reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of Better and Complications reveals the surprising power of the ordinary checklist

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, accla
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published December 22nd 2009 by Metropolitan Books
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James I disagree that it's only about checklist. It's also the study of identifying crucial processes and force fixing them. I liked the breakdown of simple…moreI disagree that it's only about checklist. It's also the study of identifying crucial processes and force fixing them. I liked the breakdown of simple, complex and complicated problems.

A checklist is not always a box, it is identifying the 10% that effects the most change. See the 80/20 Principle for more on this.(less)
Maryann This isn't a book that offers "The Checklist" that everyone should use. It's about why and when to use one and how to develop an effective one and how…moreThis isn't a book that offers "The Checklist" that everyone should use. It's about why and when to use one and how to develop an effective one and how to get buy in from a team and use it so it works. It's also a very good and not very long read. (less)

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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
Petra going to Mexico to hospital again, so hiatus
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
Maggie Stiefvater
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A splendid little thing by a surgeon who extrapolates general problem-solving solutions from a variety of specific, technical examples.
Laura Gembolis
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it
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
Peter (on hiatus)
The Checklist Manifesto introduces a groundbreaking transformation framework in ensuring the most critical of tasks are religiously followed, because it is a matter of life and death. In healthcare making a mistake may cost someone their life or leave them permanently damaged. Driving down avoidable errors should be one of the most crucial objectives in healthcare.

I have worked with the wider healthcare sector for over 30 years, and recognised the levels of authority, the egos, and i
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
Jan 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 01, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-improvement
Boooooooooring ... and utterly useless. Save time by reading superstar David Allen's "Getting Things Done", the book that ushered in the GTD global phenomenon. Knowing Allen trumps this arena, Gawande should’ve been craftier... like furnish sample checklists of the 1%. Who wouldn't want to see Richard Branson’s to-do list ??? But no such luck. Only drawn-out tales from hospitals and airports : important yes, but vague and impractical. Not even one sample checklist in the index... imagine a cookb ...more
Dec 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 Ch
Glenn Sumi
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
David Rubenstein
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Atul Gawande's earlier book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, and also an anthology that he edited, The Best American Science Writing 2006. So, I eagerly started this very short book, about checklists. Dr. Gawande ran a program sponsored by the World Health Organization. He proposed that hospitals institute checklists in the operating room, that would do two things. First, the checklists would help catch mistakes that can easily happen, as surgeries can be simp ...more
Apr 12, 2010 rated it did not like it
I'm chagrined that I didn't do enough research about this book. I crassly assumed that "How to Get Things Right" denoted it was a how-to book, and that "The Checklist Manifesto" would have offered advice or instruction on the best ways and times to implement various types of checklists.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. It's nine chapters of anecdotes. Nothing more. It's the literary equivalent of someone derailing your conversation in a bar and killing the next three hours of your life with tedious, tangenti
Mar 01, 2016 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 wounds, &
Huma Rashid
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was ok

Here's the thesis: checklists are good. Use checklists.


Seriously, that's all this book is, over and over and over. The author reminds me of my dad, who uses a 20 minute story to express an idea he could have said in ten words.

I gave it two stars bc there's a bunch of research adn story-telling and work that went into this book, obviously, but dear LORD is it pointless.
Apr 14, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: red
Apparently, after reading this years ago, I handed the copy to my wife and thus did not get around to reviewing it on GR. Suffice to say that it is excellent, and the one advantage of a delay is that I can say, with empirical data, that this is a book which can stay with you for years. I quite often think of the stories and lessons and principles in this book. I drew on it when helping my daughter learn to organize her schoolwork so that everything gets done on time. It is short, readable, and e ...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
Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: meridian, non-fiction
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 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Alfred Haplo
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
UPDATE Jul 11, 2019: It's terribly funny to see another book about "checklists", that almost seems to complement Gawande's with an equally Non-Succinct Title Beyond the Checklist: What Else Health Care Can Learn from Aviation Teamwork and Safety. Captain "Sully" Sullenberger appears in both books.

Original Review:

”These are…ridiculously primitive insights. ...But, really, does it take all that to figure out what house movers, wedding planners, and tax accountants figured out age
Jan 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 08, 2013 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 rated it liked it
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
Dec 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 intelligently th
Udit Nair
Jan 27, 2021 rated it liked it
The premise of the book was very interesting to start with. I have been trying to maintain checklists for larger aspects and also mundane aspects of life. I do get the part where the author says that checklists actually help in minimizing the errors. Another noteworthy aspect was the applicability of checklists across fields. Some of the fields such as aviation and surgery are incredibly complex and hence checklists do offer a credible way to deal with the complexity. I do feel that the book was ...more
Iman Shabani
This one was on my top list to read for almost 4 years now, and now I was finally able to do it.

It was worth the wait, and I'm going to dig deeper into this book soon as it seems to have the potential to be used by everyone for one situation or another.
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is Non Fiction and super short. I like this kind of non fiction. The author is a surgeon and he strongly believes in checklists. He has seen positive changes when people take a moment for a quick rehash of what is supposed to be accomplished. This was entertaining to see how this info was presented and how lines were drawn to connect surgical rooms and flying airplanes. The stat gathering too was kind of impressive.

I listened to the audio and the author didn't do his own narration, but the
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
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Atul Gawande is author of three bestselling books: Complications, a finalist for the National Book Award; Better, selected by Amazon.com 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

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“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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