My latest audible book selection when I saw it was available.  

Prior to purchasing any audio book:

  •  I read what is available on the site about the selection.
  •  I sample the audio to ascertain the quality of the narration.
  •  I navigate elsewhere on the web to read several reviews of the book.

This book was a no brainer!

The author is most memorable to me from his his first book, Complications, a Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science.  

I work in a field with a multitude of check lists.  Myself, I rarely completely utilize them because I am a "know-it-all" with a self proclaimed photographic memory.  I don't think I make that many mistakes but I am often back-tracking to fill in what I omitted or retract what I committed in the nick of time.  So, the process I take to get to the end product can be rife with mistakes, it is just that I correct them in time. (most of the time!)  I hope to clean up my path to the end product with better use of checklists.

I digress.

The author goes "vertical" into checklists with amazing and often stunning examples of their origins and value in application within many diverse fields.  His substantiation of their worth, the why?, is totally convincing and puts to words what I always suspected but could not articulate well myself.

I will leave it to the forum readers to investigate this book further by reading the reviews themselves on the web.




terrih's picture

I just heard an interview with the author on the WSJ This Morning podcast. One thing he did is he went to Boeing to study how they develop cockpit checklists. He made a lot of sense! I might have to check this out myself.

jhack's picture

Link to the review here:

and the NYT Freakonomics blog also gave it the briefest (yet thumbs up) review.

PS:  I do love the story of why David Lee Roth insisted on a bowl of  M&Ms with the brown ones removed.  It's not what you think. 

John Hack

terrih's picture

On second thought, the interview couldn't have been on WSJ This Morning--it was too long. Maybe it was an episode of The Economist podcast.

bffranklin's picture
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The book was reviewed in last week's issue of The Economist.  The reviewer came away nonplussed, saying that the content was thin for a book and would have been better as a feature article in a magazine, as the idea originated.  This may have been where you heard it, if you listen to the audio edition.

jhack's picture

 Sad truth of most business books is that there are enough ideas for a feature article in a magazine, and fluff has been added to make it a book. 

John Hack

morgan3's picture


You probably heard the HBR podcast This is where I heard about this interesting sounding book.

There are a couple of short blog posts by about this book which can also be found on the HBR site:

Hope this helps.




terrih's picture

HBR's the one! (Apparently all my business podcasts are blurring in my head... British accents or no)

I purchased "Checklist Manifesto" in ebook format, can read it on my iPod Touch til my nook arrives. (in short bursts, anyway... if I try to read too long on the iPod my eyes go funny)

So far, it's hard to put down because of all the medical crisis anecdotes... as if it were 'ER -- The Novel." I've only read the intro & part of chapter 1. Further analysis to come.

cruss's picture
Licensee Badge

Wait, HBR has a Podcast. How did I miss that.

Is there already a thread on the forums discussing other business podcasts. I tried some searches but "business" and "podcast" return a lot of results on the forums. If not I'll start one.


Canyon R

jhack's picture
ktnbs's picture

 After I "read" it and I got it as soon it was available, the author was on CSPAN II taking calls in what supposed to be about this new book of his.  Hardly any calls concerned the book.  Anytime you get an articulate medical author/doctor on a call in show it gets locked into the health care reform issue.

terrih's picture

I just finished it... It is indeed a "manifesto" ("A public declaration of principles, policies, or intentions"), therefore contains little in the way of how-to's.

Much of it is clearly intended to convince the author's fellow surgeons that using a checklist in surgery is not an insult to the surgeon's intelligence. And it also convinced me that using checklists in my work wouldn't be an insult to my intelligence. :-)

It's an interesting & engaging read. I enjoyed the illustrations from medicine as well as from skyscraper-building and aviation--especially the section about the Hudson River ditching, where he points out that the media kept insisting on holding up Sully as the hero of the story despite his own denials. Gawande makes the case that it was the teamwork and the checklists. The copilot crammed more of his checklists into the time he had than he should have been able to. The flight attendants ran their ditching & water evacuation checklists perfectly. The emergency procedures drilled into everybody freed up Sully to watch for a landing spot on the river near plenty of ferries and other boats that could rescue the passengers.

One thought that kept cropping up while I read this book... you mean they DON'T use checklists in surgery? :-E  I hope more and more hospitals are starting to!

dbobke's picture

This is a great book.  I am a firm believer that in so much of our lives there is so much information that we are not going to remember it all.  And we all know that one missed detail can literally kill you (just ask the author!).

We write lists to go to the grocery store with, lists of tasks we want to accomplish, etc.  Why not use lists in our working lives where attention to detail warrants it?  My example is in the world of corporate IT.  My staff does many repetitive tasks where both speed and accuracy is important.  We found that using checklists helps in both areas - less second-guessing about whether or not a particular task was performed and much happier end-users because we have much less rework.

It is revolutionary because it is so simple...