• The Checklist Manifesto

  • How to Get Things Right
  • By: Atul Gawande
  • Narrated by: John Bedford Lloyd
  • Length: 6 hrs and 9 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (6,985 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best-selling author of Being Mortal 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, acclaimed surgeon and writer Atul Gawande finds a remedy in the humblest and simplest of techniques: the checklist. First introduced decades ago by the US Air Force, checklists have enabled pilots to fly aircraft of mind-boggling sophistication. Now innovative checklists are being adopted in hospitals around the world, helping doctors and nurses respond to everything from flu epidemics to avalanches. Even in the immensely complex world of surgery, a simple 90-second variant has cut the rate of fatalities by more than a third.

In riveting stories, Gawande takes us from Austria, where an emergency checklist saved a drowning victim who had spent half an hour underwater, to Michigan, where a cleanliness checklist in intensive care units virtually eliminated a type of deadly hospital infection. He explains how checklists actually work to prompt striking and immediate improvements. And he follows the checklist revolution into fields well beyond medicine, from homeland security to investment banking, skyscraper construction, and businesses of all kinds. 

An intellectual adventure in which lives are lost and saved and one simple idea makes a tremendous difference, The Checklist Manifesto is essential listening for anyone working to get things right.

©2009 Atul Gawande (P)2009 Macmillan Audio

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What listeners say about The Checklist Manifesto

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Riveting!

I work in IT, and up to now I've managed without checklists. Not any more. As soon as I finished listening to this audiobook, I created six or seven checklists and will begin "field testing" them this week. Gawande's stories are gripping. Many of his examples come from surgery or aviation -- situations where lives are at stake -- and he effectively makes the point that even when disaster looms, a disciplined adherence to the checklist can minimize the effects.

He caps off the book with a harrowing story of a mistake he made as a surgeon: a laparoscopic procedure to remove an adrenal gland went awry, leading to a massive bleed-out. Except that the patient didn't bleed out completely, because the pre-op checklist had caught the fact that the required units of blood weren't on hand, and the situation was rectified before the knife went down.

One of the advantages of the checklist, he says, is its ability to transform a disparate group of people into a coordinated team. This is nowhere more apparent than in his detailed account of the crew's actions during the famous plane-landing-in-the-Hudson incident. The press wanted to play up the heroism of the captain, but the captain himself insisted, over and over again, that it was a group effort, and that the crew's ability to stick to the protocol under duress is the real story.

Next time I go in for surgery myself, the last thing I'm going to ask before the anesthesia kicks in is: "Do you guys have a checklist?"

66 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Checklists for Complicated and Complex Tasks

As a University professor of mathematics, mine is a simple job. There's little that's complex or complicated about it. So it would seem that Atul Gawande's new book, the Checklist Manifesto, would have little too offer my professional self. And this is OK, because Dr. Gawande expresses his ideas through anecdote and imagery, making the reading of his essays such a pleasure. This along with my wife's penchant for list-making, drew me to chose this book as the 'listen' for our 1200 mile holiday drive to visit family.

In the book, Dr. Gawande explores the way checklists can affect the handling of complicated and complex tasks by trained professionals. What he learns, through personal investigation and professional involvement with the World Health Organization, is that simple (and thoughtfully constructed) checklists can have a striking impact on the quality and volume of work of a group of professionals. Examples he explores include piloting modern commercial airplanes, managing the construction of a large building, providing rapid-response medical aid, rates of infection in hospital intensive care units, complication rates arising from surgery, and identifying prospect companies for investment by a large investment agency. In each of these cases, he shows how having and using thoughtfully designed (or evolved) checklists reduces errors and increases a group's ability to work as a team.

This latter effect is somewhat surprising and counterintuitive, but it makes a whole lot of sense with Dr. Gawande explaining it. So I'll leave that to him. The book is definitely worth the six hours of listening-time. The hard-copy version is probably a quicker read. As you read the book, I'll be thinking about how these ideas can be used in higher education and in the service of teaching mathematics and the sciences.

Epilogue: Though the book is good, the production of this audio book is uneven.

44 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Checklists GOOD, Book Unnecessary...

I have used checklists for many years and depend upon them for everything. I agree with everything in this book as far as it goes, but the book just gives some reasons why checklists are a good thing. They are. I was hoping for more practical aspects. For example the author mentions that updating lists is very important, but there are techniques that can help update lists effectively, which were not described. I hoped for more How-To and less Why. If you are already convinced checklists are a good idea, this listen is mostly a waste of time.

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

You'll Miss the Main Point if You're Not Careful

This is an incredible though very seemingly simple book. Checklist. Ok, you already think you know what it's about. And if you listen to it thinking you know, you'll only hear what you expect. That being the case, you'll miss the brilliant elegance of this book.

A concept that has saved thousands of lives? A checklist? Yup. I'm already seeing sales increases for one client by employing a prospect checklist.

You have to really put your own thought into this book. Ask yourself, how can I use this? Do that and you'll get the benefit. Otherwise you'll confuse your "To Do" list with a checklist. They aren't the same thing...

Get this book while you can and then head to Amazon and buy all they will let you---there's a limit! Give them to your best clients.

Chris Reich

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding

This is not some esoteric examination of a profoundly simple idea --- it is instead an insightful look at the nature of complexity, information, error and organization. The book is animated by powerful, gripping stories about human endeavor, our failings and our achievements. It is a "must listen".

Lloyd's presentation is also perfect, just the right tone for this book.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Or - Common Sense is Just Not Sexy

Even the reviews below get at the problem. Despite energetic narration that stirs up the occasionally lengthy prose, you already think you know all you need to know about checklists. Well, maybe not?

Gawande begs you to consider his new ideas, insights about testing and tailoring, and then to give the concept a try in your own workplace.

I used to ask students, do you want to fly on a plane where they hadn't gone through the checklist? My new question - wouldn't you like YOUR doctor to be as passionate as Gawande?

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

not his best

I loved Gawande's previous works, and avidly read every new piece in the New Yorker. This was underwhelming, and a bit boring at times. I agree with other reviewers who say it is padded and has a simple yet eloquent thesis. He even makes the episode about the Citbank Tower, which was riveting in the original New Yorker article (by another author) come off dull...

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Ratings? Check! Review? Check! Preview? Check!

“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

description

"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 Checklist Manifesto

Atul Gawande is a bit intimidating. Anytime you have a guy that does surgery, public health, and has written four bestselling books, it is only fair to acknowledge the guy has both brains and hustle. Unlike Malcolm Gladwell, Gawande has a tremendous talent for distilling scientific and academic ideas into a glossy, easily digestible 8.5" x 6" science-lite book. Gladwell does it with other people's ideas. His books involved several varied stories that come together into a lose federation of themes. Gawande usually starts with the idea: "Hand washing" in Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance) or "Checklists" (The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right) and creates a book around them.

Like Dr. Gawande the person, I find his books to be interesting, compelling, admirable, and straightforward. I admire his work and his vision. His books are almost always solid, just never once yet great. Dr. Gawande is clever. He writes books that are essentially entry-level business/leadership books that are disguised as surveys of medicine. He uses his experiences as a doctor and public health researcher to tackle broader social and cultural issues that intersect with medicine and health. He isn't super subtle, but most of those who are reading Gawande aren't looking for poetry or subtly. They want an idea to click. They want to feel inspired. The want to get better and avoid mistakes. He seems focused on presenting simple processes (soap, checklists) that may help.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

apparently checklists arent interesting

An interesting subject but poorly written and really boring. Takes the entire book to basically say "Doctors should use checklists to limit their mistakes". 8 words.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Ineresting listen.

Lawyers often approach cases and clients as unique. Actually, we see similar fact scenarios over and over and we apply law that does not change in the short run. Atul Gawande suggests in The Checklist Manifesto,that a simple checklist works well in the surgical theatre and will work just as well in aviation, construction and in the legal environment.
Gawande asserts and makes the case that a checklist can help each of us to manage the mundane and the complex. He supports the premise that in medicine, in law and in aviation, the problem is applying the training and the knowledge that we have consistently and correctly. He argues that failure results from ineptitude rather than from ignorance.
While Gawande supports his premise primarily with examples from medicine he does include examples of the successful use of checklists in aviation and construction. His writing is current, including the emergency landing, "The Miracle on the Hudson River" in January, 2009, which provided an example of the use of simultaneously managed checklists for restarting the engine and ditching the plane.

All in all, the book was written with clarity and it moved well so that interest is maintained.

10 people found this helpful