Reading Notes: The Checklist Manifesto

The Checklist Manifesto is a book from Atul Gawande. I learned the following three points from this book.

All Tasks Can Be Divided into 3 Groups

  • simple ones:

    Simple problems are ones like baking a cake from a mix. There is a recipe. Sometimes there are a few basic techniques to learn. But once these are mastered, following the recipe brings a high likelihood of success.

  • complicated ones:

    Ones like launcing a rocket. They can sometimes be broken down into a series of simple problems. Once you learn how to send a rocket to the moon, you can repeat the process with other rockets and perfect it.

  • complex problems:

    Like raising a child. Although raising one child may provide experience, it does not guarantee success with the next child. Expertise is valuable but most certainly not sufficient. Indeed, the next child may require an entirely different approach from the previous one.

How to Categorize Checklists

  • With a DO-CONFIRM checklist: we perform our jobs from memory and experience, often separately. But then we stop. We pause to run the checklist and confirm that everything that was supposed to be done was done.
  • With a READ-DO checklist, on the other hand, we carry out the tasks as we check them off it is more like a recipe.

What Makes a Good Checklists

  • Five to nine items at most for a single check list.
  • The wording should be simple and exact