The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

2012-11-12 09-53-34
Atul Gawande
Metropolitan Books
December 2009

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The dictionary definition of a manifesto is “a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives, as one issued by a government, sovereign, or organization.” Sounds pretty official for the concept of checklists; Just the way Gawande intended it to be. His concept in this book is a simple one: no matter what the sector or business area, the systematic use of checklists in day-to-day operations reduces risks and errors. Checklists ensure routine tasks are completed accurately, in order, and according to proven standards, which allows the mind to focus on more complex tasks and business problems.

Gawande states,

“under conditions of complexity, not only are checklists a help, they are required for success. There must always be room for judgment, but judgment aided – and even enhanced – by procedure.”

The book uses two high cost and high risk sectors to illustrate the utility of checklists. The first is the airline industry which has made use of procedural checklists for pilots for many decades. The second is medicine. Medicine in particular is characterized by extreme specialization. Today there are over 6000 drugs and 4000 medical and surgical procedures that necessitate doctors are highly specialized to be effective. In particular with surgical procedures, the author illustrates how checklists have reduced errors and ended up saving lives in the operating room.

For project managers just as for airline pilots and surgeons, we are big proponents of checklists.

Click here for an article that provides a more functional description of types of project management checklists.

Click here for our catalogue of available checklists.