Most helpful positive review
490 of 514 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2009
Amazon's December Book of the Month summary describes the author's mission of revolutionizing the "to-do list...without programmatic steps or tables to help reshuffle daily tasks." One may infer from this recap that this is a how-to-self-improvement book for making one more productive, more efficient and less stressed - this couldn't be farther from the core message of this book.
The author's key message is that the volume and complexity of knowledge today has exceeded any single individual's ability to manage it consistently without error despite material advances in technology, boatloads of more training and super-specialization of functions and responsibilities. Yet, despite demonstrating that checklists produce results, there is resistance to their use because of the (1) Master of Universe mentality (Rock Star; Fighter Pilot; Hero), (2) our jobs are too complex to reduce to a checklist, (3) checklists are too rigid and don't force us to look up and see and think ahead of what's in front of us. Yet, in a complex environment, he states that experts are up against 2 difficulties - the fallibility of human memory when it comes to mundane, routine matters that are easily overlooked under the strain of more pressing events and secondly, people can lull themselves into skipping steps even when they remember them - after all certain steps don't always matter...until one day they do. Gawande makes a persuasive case in his book as to why you should develop and implement a process checklist for critical processes/decisions.
* Whether you are from the medical field or not, you will benefit from the inspiring thinking and insights.
* This book is game changing - a call-to-action for generating better results despite the pull to run with intuition or gut instinct. If you are implementing via intuition rather than a systematic process, this book's message will force you to pause in your tracks to seek a more disciplined approach.
* The author uses a wide range of industries to make his case using an engaging blend of anecdotes, storytelling and research - from healthcare to aviation (US Airways 1549 landing in Hudson River) - - to high-end award winning restaurants - - to building massive office skyscrapers and shopping centers - -to setting up a Van Halen rock concert - - to FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans - - to money managers making investment selections.
* Can be read in 1-2 sittings. Page Turner. Fully engaging and riveting until the last page is turned.
* Author's determination, authenticity, inspired thinking, modesty and willingness to disclose personal mistakes makes this an inspirational book. Both brilliantly written and a pleasure to read.
My favorite excerpts:
"Despite showing (hospital) staff members of the benefits of using the checklist, 20% resisted stating that it was not easy to use, it took too long and felt it had not improved the safety of care. Yet, when asked an additional question - would you want the checklist to be used if you were having an operation - a full 93% said yes."
"In a world in which success now requires large enterprises, teams of clinicians, high-risk technologies, and knowledge that outstrips any one person's abilities, individual autonomy hardly seems the ideal we should aim for. ..what is needed, however is discipline...discipline is hard - harder than trustworthiness and skill and perhaps even than selflessness. We are by nature flawed and inconstant creatures. We can't even keep from snacking between meals. We are built for novelty and excitement, not for careful attention to detail. Discipline is something we have to work at."
"We don't study routine failures...when we look closely, we recognize the same balls being dropped over and over, even by those of great ability and determination. We know the patterns. We see the costs. It's time to try something else. Try a checklist."
"We're obsessed in medicine with having great components, the best drugs, the best devices, the best specialists - but pay little attention to how to make them fit together well""
"It somehow feels beneath us to use a checklist, an embarrassment. It runs counter to deeply held beliefs about how the truly great among us - those we aspire to be - handle situations of high stakes and complexity. The truly great are daring. They improvise. They do not have protocols and checklists. Maybe our idea of heroism needs updating."