October 12th, 2012

Book Review: The Checklist Manifesto

I recently read that Jack Dorsey–an entrepreneur who inspires and awes me–provides every new employee at Square with a copy of the book  The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Done Right, among a few other things. Which meant I had to read it immediately, of course.

The book is an easy read because the stories are truly engaging, even though they are literally stories about how checklists save lives, time, effort and in general the missing of stupid oversights.  The author’s approach to making his point felt very much like the approach Malcom Gladwell takes in his books The Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers (all great reads, as well). The stories demonstrate the thesis: checklists matter, even for those that think they are too good for checklists.

“It somehow feels beneath us to use a checklist, an embarrassment.” The author, Gawande, addresses this core resistance to using checklists throughout the book. He says that people fear checklists because “They imagine mindless automatons, heads down in a checklist, incapable of looking out their windshield and coping with the real world in front of them.” But in fact, “The checklists gets the dumb stuff out of the way, the routines your brain shouldn’t have to occupy itself with, and let’s it rise above to focus on the hard stuff.” Basically, you are smarter when you use a checklist; not dumb because you have to use a checklist.

This was an interesting and inspiring read. Check it out.

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Link to book on Amazon