Book review: “The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right” by Atul Gawande

The professional world has become increasingly complex in recent years. This makes it increasingly difficult for individuals to master tasks without making mistakes. In many professions from surgeon or pilot to financial manager, mistakes can have catastrophic consequences.

In aviation, pilots have therefore been following checklists for a long time, so that they can keep a cool head in extreme situations and everything runs smoothly. In this way many accidents have been avoided over the years.

In medicine, many mistakes regularly happen, due to small mishaps in complex processes. This then often leads to difficult complications or even to the death of patients. This situation has led the physician Atul Gawande to deal with the subject of checklists in detail and to examine to what extent a checklist can also be used during operations to avoid mistakes. Together with the WHO, Atul Gawande has tested checklists in operating theatres worldwide – with phenomenal success.

In his book Atul Gawande shows the potential checklists have for complex operations and error prevention. He provides interesting insights into a wide range of industries from medicine and construction to investment.

What does the book offer the reader?

  • Many practical examples of what checklists can do
  • Answers to the question why checklists work

What did I like about the book?

  • The book is extremely lively and practically written.
  • The book provides deep insights into complex tasks in a wide range of industries. As a reader you learn a lot of new things.
  • The book is not a theory book, but inspires.

What could have been done even better with the book?

  • A chapter showing how to design, implement, test and improve guides would certainly have been a very good addition. However, the checklist on “Preparing checklists” in the annex provides a good first guide.

Checklist Manifesto answers these questions:

  • Why do checklists make sense?
  • What are the objections about checklists and why are they unjustified?
  • Where are checklists used and what tasks do they perform?


The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande is an entertaining but extremely exciting read, as the book gives many insights that one would otherwise not get. As a reader you will learn from practical examples how checklists can help to manage complexity and avoid mistakes. The book is not a manual, but rather a source of inspiration that helps you to get new perspectives.

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Christian Wagner
Christian Wagner
Founder RiskPlayWin | Owner & Founder of the digital marketing agencies &

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