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This week we conclude our re-read of The Checklist Manifesto with a few final thoughts and notes and a restatement of a checklist for a checklist that Stephen Adams contributed in the comments for Chapter 9 – they deserve more exposure.  A few of the key takeaways are: (more…)

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This week we tackle Chapter 9 of The Checklist Manifesto .  The Save is the final chapter in the book.  Next week we will discuss our final thoughts and decide on the next book.  In chapter 9 Atul Gawande expresses his experiences with the surgical checklist he helped to create.  A combination of emotion and evidence.

The Save is the shortest chapter in The Checklist Manifesto weighing in at only 5 pages.  Perhaps I should have considered the chapter when we talked about The Fix (chapter 8) but I even though the chapter is short the message is important.  The two major points in this chapter are:

  1. Don’t be a hypocrite.  Change agents must eat their own dog food. In this instance, Gawande talked about how he used the checklist in his own practice.  When you are helping to shape change, using your own advice provides a number of benefits. Those benefits include generating feedback based on first-hand observation and taking and holding the moral high ground.
  2. Checklists are effective at improving outcomes.  In the chapter, the author references several examples, including one that saved a patients life, of how checklists are effective to help improve outcomes and generate the conversations between team members.

Given the title of the book, wrapping the up the book with a statement about the effectiveness of checklists is not a shock.  The example of a patient that nearly died that is the backbone of the chapter is important as a final statement because it reiterates that we have to think and talk about what we are doing even if we have performed the action a hundred times before.  Gawande’s message is not dissimilar to the message that L. David Marquet delivered when he described deliberate actions. Our actions regardless of the outcome will have an impact on the world around us, therefore, try to make the impact as positive as possible. Our review of chapter 8 (last week) ended with the admonition “try a checklist,”  After chapter 9 I would add, “because our actions matter.”

We need your input to choose the next book.  I will cut off the poll on October 3rd. Make sure your voice is heard!

Remember to buy a copy of The Checklist Manifesto and READ along!

Previous Installments:

Week 9 – The Hero In The Age of Checklists

Week 8 – The Fix –

Week 7 – The Checklist Factory

Week 6 – The First Try

Week 5 – The Idea

Week 4 – The End Of The Master Builder

Week 3 – The Checklist

Week 2 – The Problem With Extreme Complexity

Week 1 – Approach and Introduction

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In week 8 of re-read of The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along) we read about building a usable checklist. In this chapter, Dr. Gawande puts all of the lessons learned in chapter 6 into action and tests the result. (more…)


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We have four or five more weeks left in this re-read, which means it is time to start soliciting ideas for the next book. Sandeep Koorse has suggested Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit  (actually he referenced the book twice in his appearance on the SPaMCAST 511 which will be coming out tomorrow). What are your suggestions?

In week 7 of re-read of The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along) we read about Atul’s visit to the Checklist Factory. In this chapter, Dr. Gawande provides the reader with many of the basics needed to create valuable checklists.


Chapter 6, The Checklist Factory (more…)

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In week 5 of re-read of The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along) we tackle Chapter 4, The Idea. In Chapter 4 Gawande shows us how checklists can help push decision-making outward, which empowers teams and makes them more responsive.

For simple routine problems, forcing functions have great appeal.  I put my company badge and car keys in the same place, everyday – check. I put my lunch box in the freezer — check. I am home — check. A simple routine checklist that makes going to work in the morning less complicated. The checklist for routine problems can be spelled out in great detail to precipitate behaviors. That said, not everything we face in day-to-day or business environments is routine. (more…)

It is week 3 of our re-read of The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along). Chapter 2 continues building the case for checklists to deal with complex and complicated environments. This chapter firmly pins down the idea that checklists save time, money and lives. (more…)

It is week 2 of our re-read of The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along). Chapter 1 builds the case that the world we live in and the work that we do is very complex.  Complexity creates the possibility for errors, and checklists are a tool to help avoid error in complicated and complex environments. (more…)

Today we begin the read of the The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along). The version of the book we are reading is published by Metropolitan Book, 2009 and is the 22nd printing. The book has nine chapters and with acknowledgments has 209 pages. My reading plan is one chapter per week, therefore, the re-read will span 11 weeks (including today).  


Until relatively recently I did not read forewords and introductions. I think I have missed a lot of contexts. The Checklist Manifesto starts with two stories from the medical arena. In the first story, the doctor missed a piece of knowledge that nearly killed the patient. If the attending physician had asked about the type of weapon that caused the wound the patient would have had less of an issue. In the second story, the surgical team missed a slight (but important) treatment deviation that stopped the patient’s heart. The patient only survived because the team stumbled over the deviation in the norm.

Prior to writing The Checklist Manifesto the paper, Toward a Theory of Medical Fallibility (note the paper, although thought provoking is difficult to get. I found a source to read online but a copy is $18 USD) made a major impact on Gawande’s thought process. The paper lays out a framework to understand why mistakes are made. There are two overall categories of mistakes. The first is due to havingonly partial understanding. For example, trying to generate cold fusion and failing, falls into this category because no one knows how to generate cold fusion, we have a partial understanding. The second category is ineptitude. Ineptitude describes incidences that in which knowledge exists but is not applied correctly. Checklists, and therefore the book, are a tool to attack the second type of incident. The idea, that some mistakes or errors are controllable and some are not might not sound earth-shattering. Not adopting a way to deal with those that are controllable is disconcerting.  

The introduction was worth the price of admission! Why didn’t I read introductions and forewords in the past . . . silly me.