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The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right + Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science + Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
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Product Details

  • Audio CD: 5 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Unabridged edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1427208980
  • ISBN-13: 978-1427208989
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (548 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2009: With a title like The Checklist Manifesto, it would be natural to expect that Atul Gawande is bent on revolutionizing that most loved-hated activity of workers the world over: the to-do list. But it's not the list itself he wants to change; there are no programmatic steps or tables here to help you reshuffle daily tasks. What you'll find instead is a remarkably liberating and persuasive inquiry into what it takes to work successfully and with a personal sense of satisfaction. The first thing you'll realize is that it takes more than just one person to do a job well. This is a toppling revelation made all the more powerful by Gawande's skillful blend of anecdote and practical wisdom as he profiles his own experience as a surgeon and seeks out a wide range of other professions to show that a team is only as strong as its checklist--by his definition, a way of organizing that empowers people at all levels to put their best knowledge to use, communicate at crucial points, and get things done. Like no other book before it, The Checklist Manifesto is at once a restorative call to action and a welcome voice of reason. --Anne Bartholomew

Amazon Exclusive: Malcolm Gladwell Reviews The Checklist Manifesto

Malcolm Gladwell was named one of TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2005. He is most recently the author of What the Dog Saw (a collection of his writing from The New Yorker) as well as the New York Times bestsellers Outliers, The Tipping Point, and Blink. Read his exclusive Amazon guest review of The Checklist Manifesto:

Over the past decade, through his writing in The New Yorker magazine and his books Complications and Better, Atul Gawande has made a name for himself as a writer of exquisitely crafted meditations on the problems and challenges of modern medicine. His latest book, The Checklist Manifesto, begins on familiar ground, with his experiences as a surgeon. But before long it becomes clear that he is really interested in a problem that afflicts virtually every aspect of the modern world--and that is how professionals deal with the increasing complexity of their responsibilities. It has been years since I read a book so powerful and so thought-provoking.

Gawande begins by making a distinction between errors of ignorance (mistakes we make because we don't know enough), and errors of ineptitude (mistakes we made because we don’t make proper use of what we know). Failure in the modern world, he writes, is really about the second of these errors, and he walks us through a series of examples from medicine showing how the routine tasks of surgeons have now become so incredibly complicated that mistakes of one kind or another are virtually inevitable: it's just too easy for an otherwise competent doctor to miss a step, or forget to ask a key question or, in the stress and pressure of the moment, to fail to plan properly for every eventuality. Gawande then visits with pilots and the people who build skyscrapers and comes back with a solution. Experts need checklists--literally--written guides that walk them through the key steps in any complex procedure. In the last section of the book, Gawande shows how his research team has taken this idea, developed a safe surgery checklist, and applied it around the world, with staggering success.

The danger, in a review as short as this, is that it makes Gawande’s book seem narrow in focus or prosaic in its conclusions. It is neither. Gawande is a gorgeous writer and storyteller, and the aims of this book are ambitious. Gawande thinks that the modern world requires us to revisit what we mean by expertise: that experts need help, and that progress depends on experts having the humility to concede that they need help. --Malcolm Gladwell



--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

That humblest of quality-control devices, the checklist, is the key to taming a high-tech economy, argues this stimulating manifesto. Harvard Medical School prof and New Yorker scribe Gawande (Complications) notes that the high-pressure complexities of modern professional occupations overwhelm even their best-trained practitioners; he argues that a disciplined adherence to essential procedures—by ticking them off a list—can prevent potentially fatal mistakes and corner cutting. He examines checklists in aviation, construction, and investing, but focuses on medicine, where checklists mandating simple measures like hand washing have dramatically reduced hospital-caused infections and other complications. Gawande gets slightly intoxicated over checklists, celebrating their most banal manifestations as promethean breakthroughs (First there was the recipe, the most basic checklist of all, he intones in a restaurant kitchen). He's at his best delivering his usual rich, insightful reportage on medical practice, where checklists have the subversive effect of puncturing the cult of physician infallibility and fostering communication and teamwork. (After writing a checklist for his specialty, surgery, he is chagrined when it catches his own disastrous lapses.) Gawande gives a vivid, punchy exposition of an intriguing idea: that by-the-book routine trumps individual prowess. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Atul Gawande is the author of three bestselling books: Complications, a finalist for the National Book Award; Better, selected by Amazon.com as one of the ten best books of 2007; and The Checklist Manifesto. He is also a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1998, and a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He has won two National Magazine Awards, a MacArthur Fellowship, and been named one of the world's hundred most influential thinkers by Foreign Policy and TIME. In his work as a public health researcher, he is Director of Ariadne Labs a joint center for health system innovation. And he is also co-founder and chairman of Lifebox, a global not-for-profit implementing systems and technologies to reduce surgical deaths globally. He and his wife have three children and live in Newton, Massachusetts.

You can find more at http://www.atulgawande.com.

Customer Reviews

Amazing book and very easy read.
Amazon Customer
Gawande makes a persuasive case in his book as to why you should develop and implement a process checklist for critical processes/decisions.
D. Kanigan
Like his other books, Dr. Gawande has once again written a compelling book.
Corky

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

413 of 432 people found the following review helpful By D. Kanigan VINE VOICE on December 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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269 of 298 people found the following review helpful By avdrdr on February 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Gawande acknowledges that this book grew out of his December 10, 2007 New Yorker article, "The Checklist". I suspect that, for many readers, it would be a better use of their time and money to read the article (which is available online) rather than the book. Although the book, like Dr. Gawande's previous books, is well-written, the author's essential conclusions could easily be summarized in one page (and have been in several reviews).
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109 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Laura Sequeira on December 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I work in a hospital as an intensive care nurse. We have been working on a multitude of projects to improve patient safety and outcomes. And in the midst of all the technology and knowledge and training, it is the simple thing--a checklist. Having a husband who is a private pilot and works for the FAA, I have heard about checklists for years. This book shows how pilots use checklists to avert disaster and save lives. It explains how the people who build complex buildings use checklists to plan the construction but also communicate and correct the changes and errors. And it gives a multitude of examples in medicine to show how checklists work and what happens when they aren't used. It is a fascinating, quick and easy read. And it will have you thinking very differently about checklists and safety, whether in the air, a building or a hospital.
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139 of 162 people found the following review helpful By E. Mills on January 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Checklist Manifesto is a good book if you require convincing that checklists are a good thing. Or if you like to read a quasi-novel on how checklists can be useful. If you already believe in checklists then you may be bored with 193 pages espousing their virtue. You will not find anything at all on how to construct a checklist, or methods to keep them current amid ever-changing procedures and technological advances. Well written, but not particularly practical.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By AdamSmythe on January 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I looked over the other reviews of this interesting book, and there are many of them that you will find very useful--so I'll just try to list some highlights. As Dr. Gawande points out, a checklist can't be too long (people won't use it), yet it must succinctly cover the most essential considerations of the situation at hand. Although what follows isn't a checklist, I'll try to focus on the most essential characteristics of Dr. Gawande's book:

First, this is an easy-to-read, engaging book. I'll bet that you will find it hard to put down. It is interesting enough to make you want to read the book and serious enough to deliver important messages.

Second, the value of using checklists springs directly from the complexity of modern life, whether we're talking about surgery (the author is a surgeon), flying an airplane or building a skyscraper. By the way, in reading this book I have developed a newfound appreciation of how complex the construction business can be.

Third, checklists are not just for simple, straightforward tasks. Checklists help people communicate and work together better, especially when the unexpected occurs.

Fourth, checklists are important regardless of the time available. Indeed, when the cockpit crew of US Airways flight 1549 lost both engines over New York City, they had only three minutes of airtime remaining. The first thing they did was to get out their checklists. (You can read Captain Sully Sullenberger's excellent book for more details.)

Fifth, checklist usage has saved numerous lives, including one of Dr. Gawande's patients. His candor in discussing that episode is laudable.

Sixth, humans being human, mistakes will inevitably occur.
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