Book Review: The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

I got introduced to Atul Gawande’s writing some time last year when I read an excellent column regarding “Slow Ideas” in the new yorker in which he described at length why some ideas spread fast however some take a long time.

Gawande himself is a Surgeon and also writes for NY Times and New Yorker and this is his third book.

Based on that experience I picked up Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande and my respect for his writing moved up a few notches.


★★★★ (4 out of 5)

The Storyline

With every passing day the world around us is becoming more complex. There is so much information around us in every field and we strive to master all of it. Yet on many occasions we commit grievous errors which can result in monetary loss to even someone losing his life.

Gawande finds out that one simple way of countering this is the checklist.

Checklist has been used in aviation industry since a long time. They have a checklist for before starting the engine, after starting the engine, take off, landing and hundreds of other scenarios. And they follow it in a disciplined manner. That is how we don’t see many accidents. Gawande finds the precedent of using checklist in construction industry too, where they have checklist for different project phases that is how hundreds of people work towards one vision.

Gawande narrates a fascinating story out of Austria, where a little girl could be saved even after being half an hour underwater. He narrates several other stories where a checklist saved from millions of dollars to several lives. Based on this understanding he develops a checklist for WHO, to be applied worldwide during surgery and it produced excellent results.

He demonstrates through many examples that a simple and stupid looking checklist can actually help avert many big problems.

What I Think

Gawande is one such non-fiction writer whom I hold in high regard with the likes of Malcom Gladwell. He keeps the topic very interesting although mainly he focuses on medical examples. However he draws parallel in other fields. As in this book he illustrated in a very clear manner that the checklist could be used in any field to get things right. Be it an investment banker, aviation industry, medicine or even in everyday tasks.

And not every writer has that knack. If it would have been written by another medical professional, probably it would have become a boring read for people of other industries.

The book is short with 200 odd pages and to the point. The author doesn’t drag any story beyond necessary. And by the end of the book I am sure you will start to think how can you implement a checklist in your work or your personal life.

Last Words

This book in many sorts is ground breaking. Although we all have used checklist many times in our lives but we fail to recognize the bigger role it can play in whatever line of work we are in.

I can personally vouch for the checklist because I’m a checklist guy and for sure it works for me. The only problem is that a checklist appears such a simple and stupid concept that we often ignore it or people with inflated egos (mostly experts) feel it’s below them to use something this simple.

Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right is a book not to be missed in whichever field you are. And I would even suggest implementing a few in your every day life.


You can buy this book at low price from



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