The Checklist Manifesto

Author: Atul Gawande
Publisher: Macmillan

I learned about The Checklist Manifesto from an Internet advertisement. Because I am a to-do-list kind of guy, and I assumed this is what the book would be about, I drove to my closest bookstore and purchased it. As much as I love to read and benefit from gathering knowledge, I am a slow reader; if I want to take a nap I start reading. But if the book intrigues me, I force myself to keep going. The Checklist Manifesto kept me reading.

I soon realized this book is about the creation of checklists for repetitive tasks. The overall premise of the book is that creating checklists significantly reduces and, in some cases, eliminates potential errors created by the perception that we are so good at what we do—especially in repetitive tasks—that we can rely on our memory.

The author is a surgeon, and he tells the story mainly using examples from the medical industry. He also refers to the airline industry, which arguably is the most checklist-oriented industry in the world. Gawande also addresses the investment and major construction industry for examples. He talks about how overlooking minor things, whether in an operating room, boardroom or on an airplane, can create catastrophic consequences for the patient/business person/passenger. For example, forgetting to administer antibiotics within 60 minutes of an incision or making sure fuel tanks have the proper amount of fuel seem to be items that are routine and would never be overlooked. Unfortunately for the patient/passenger, these items are often overlooked and led the author on a multiyear quest to develop checklists for his operating room.

Gawande gives many examples and statistics to support his quest to make checklists commonplace in his industry and any industry that has repetitive procedures. It got me thinking about checklists in the remodeling industry. Once you read this book, you will wonder how you ever managed without checklists.

I found this book to be an easy read and highly entertaining. It certainly got my juices flowing, thinking about checklists in the remodeling industry. Enjoy the read. — Reviewed by Michael Nagel, CGR, CAPS

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