1.14 Use A Checklist to prevent inept mistakes.


“The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande: Gawande begins by making a distinction between errors of ignorance (mistakes we make because we don’t know enough), and errors of ineptitude (mistakes we made because we don’t make proper use of what we know). Failure in the modern world, he writes, is really about the second of these errors, and he walks us through a series of examples from medicine showing how the routine tasks of surgeons have now become so incredibly complicated that mistakes of one kind or another are virtually inevitable: it’s just too easy for an otherwise competent doctor to miss a step, or forget to ask a key question or, in the stress and pressure of the moment, to fail to plan properly for every eventuality. Gawande then visits with pilots and the people who build skyscrapers and comes back with a solution. Experts need checklists–literally–written guides that walk them through the key steps in any complex procedure. In the last section of the book, Gawande shows how his research team has taken this idea, developed a safe surgery checklist, and applied it around the world, with staggering success. [1]

[2]  Gawande believes that in an age of relentless technological complexity, where the most basic steps can easily be overlooked, a humble technique—making a process list to follow when completing a given task—can serve as a revolutionary tool to help us avoid error and get things right. In 2008, the World Health Organization agreed to work with Gawande’s thesis, bringing the checklist concept to eight hospitals around the world. During the next six months, deaths fell by 47 percent and post surgical complications dropped by 36 percent. “In medicine,” Gawande writes, the issue is “making sure we apply the knowledge we have consistently and correctly.” Failure isn’t from ignorance, it’s from not properly applying what we know. Maybe you’re not sure that a checklist would be useful in your work environment. Fair enough. However one thing Gawande’s research makes abundantly clear: From medicine to homeland security to investment banking to building construction, checklists can be a game changer.



What gets my attention?
Do I understand the need or problem?
Do I understand the potential solution?
Do I understand how to apply that strategy?
What questions do I have for the experts? What might be the answers?
Who needs to hear this?
What do I do next?


[1] “Malcolm Gladwell’s review of The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande, from http://atulgawande.com/book/the-checklist-manifesto/

[2] 10 Lessons From The Checklist Manifesto: Failure isn’t due to ignorance. According to best-selling author Atul Gawande, it’s because we haven’t properly applied what we already know. Productivity / Kristen Spina / January 25, 2016, from http://www.everup.com/2016/01/25/about-the-checklist-manifesto-atul-gawande-takeaways/

This is an anchor post; its purpose is to begin a conversation.
Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.
Key: Productivity Bin  Last Revision: 05/04/2021.

This entry was posted in Productivity Bin. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.