book review – the checklist manifesto

I love checklists. To-do lists, packing lists, shopping lists, menu lists, procedure lists – I’ve made them and used them and recommend them highly.

When I worked in Human Resources, for example, I created a list to confirm that new employees had all their paperwork completed before they attended Orientation. If you haven’t worked in HR, you don’t realize the federal, state and company-related documents that accumulate before someone even is put on the payroll. If a particular piece of paper is missing, the whole production grinds to a halt and you risk government sanctions or the person not getting paid.

The Checklist Manifesto, by Atul Gawande, came highly recommended from several sources. Dr. Gawande presents three uses for checklists:  in surgery, aviation and construction.

You won’t learn how to create a checklist or whether using checklists will make a difference in your life. What you will discover is Dr. Gawande’s enthusiasm for the humble list and the impact of using a checklist in his work.

The book is short and easy to read, albeit a bit redundant. I’ll save you the time – here’s the takeaway: Use checklists. Make them short. Make them specific. Get input from others. Test to ensure you’ve included everything. Determine a point person to ensure the checklist is followed. Use it.

Do you have a recurring task that could benefit from having a checklist applied to it?

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