The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

Here are some very brief notes from the session:

  • Opened up my thinking on what is a checklist and highlighted the difference between process and a checklist.
  • Differences between aviation (having a learning culture) and medicine (doesn’t have a learning culture) and how checklists are used in comparison.
  • Process is not a checklist (and vice versa). It’s important to define the terms (process, playbook, checklist, etc.) well. Checklist ensures that when the s%^& hits the fan, you are supported.
  • really

  • Generally we don’t allow ourselves to do project planning well. Kind of clashes with the Lean Startup approach.
  • Building in a pause is very important. How can we build in breaks in our workflows? They could be a very powerful thing. How can you give that moment more power?
  • We have a tendency to not use a checklist and automate everything…part of the character of operations folks?
  • Two types of checklist:
    • "do and confirm"
    • "read and do"
  • Giving ourselves more time when we do things. Efficiency isn’t always a synonym with quick - it’s also about doing things well.
  • The way of looking at a problem in three different ways. Think about which one it is before you tackle the problem.
    • The simple (can use a checklist)
    • The complicated (can still use a checklist or multiple ones, also communication touchpoints)
    • The complex (can never recreate twice in a row; e.g. “raising a kid”)


  • We all liked this book (avg 8/10) - lots of examples and stories to contextualise everything. However, it's lacking practical next steps a little bit. Comparison between aviation, medical field and construction works really well. It would be good to see how people adopt it in other settings.
  • We would totally read it again, but probably in chapters/paragraphs and use it for reference and more practical advice.
  • We would recommend it to those who are interested. Opinions range from "Made it so much difference for me and how I approach things" to "Haven't yet worked out how it would be helpful to me". A summary and key definitions should be enough to get the gist.

Finally, Shortform was mentioned to those who're looking for nonfiction book summaries.