Reading notes from 'The Checklist Manifesto' by Atul Gawande

With increased know-how comes increased complexity. To manage complexity, we've become superspecialized. Under extreme complexity, mistakes are unavoidable, even for the specialists.

Along with increased know-how and sophistication, comes Extreme Complexity.

To manage complexity upon complexity, he have introduced more specialization, more expertise. Extreme complexity is everyone's norm.

We live in the era of the superspecialized.

Some fields have grown so complex that mistakes are unavoidable, even for the superspecialized

How Do Checklists Protect Us#

Checklists help us cope with Extreme Complexity

  • They protect us from mistakes of our memory, attention and thoroughness.
  • They remind us of the minimum steps to take
  • They make the steps explicit.

Types Of Problems#

  • Simple, think following a recipe with well-defined steps.
  • Complicated, think sending a rocket to the moon. No known recipe.
  • Complex, unknown unknowns; think no exact recipe for raising a child - every child unique.

The Master Builder Mentality#

  • In the old days, to raise a building, you hired a Master Builder that coordinated everything.
  • Today, complex construction projects, are one huge checklist, unique to the building.
  • There is another exlicit checklist about communication tasks: who talks to whom about what, when.

Failure To Communicate#

50e2b Failure To Communicate

Getting Things Right In Complex Situations#

  • Push decision making to the periphery.
  • When something disastrous happens, most explanations (like climate change, chaotic etc) are not explanations. They are the definitions of complex situations.
  • Instead of issuing instructions, to handle complexity, they made sure people talked.
  • Under true complexity, efforts to dictate everything will fail.
  • Freedom and expectation: coordinate and measure progress.
  • There must always be room for judgement, aided and enhanced by procedure.

Synonyms Of Leverage#

10b1e Synonyms Of Leverage

Obstacles To Effective Teams#

  • A kind of silent disengagement, where superspecialists stick to their domain strictly.
  • Not just performing isolated tasks, but also helping the group get the best possible results.
  • Insistence to talk to each other briefly - a strategy to foster teamwork.
  • Psychological studies show people cooperate better with people they know the names of.

Checklist Creation Reminders#

  • pause points. The team runs checks together before continuing.
  • Communication checks. Get to know each other, express concerns.
  • Bad checklists are imprecise, long, impractical.
  • Good checklists are precise, short reminders, practical.
  • Not how-to guides.
  • Do-Confirm: do something, confirm with team.
  • Read-Do: Read the next task, perform it.
  • Tension between brevity and effectiveness.
  • The goal is not ticking boxes, it is a culture of teamwork and discipline.