The Checklist Manifesto. Chapter 2 The Checklist

Following our reading calendar, here is a short explanation of the contents of chapter two.

It starts with a very impressive example on how the humble checklist saved Boeing for a great financial loss, and how using a checklist allowed pilots to fly a plane slightly more complicated than those that were common in the 1930s. Now checklist are commonplace in aviation.

This is the main aim of this chapter: to convince us of the power of the checklist. He points out the two main psychological situations in which checklists can be of great help: first there is the “fallibility of human memory and attention, especially when it comes to a mundane, routine matters that are easily overlooked under the strain of more pressing events” (p. 36)

The other one is how you can skip steps that you already memorized because usually don’t matter. Until they do, of course.

The thing that most called my attention was to realize that we have to wait to 2001 to see the first attempts to introduce checklists in medicine (besides the basic constants which, as the author stated are a sort of proto-checklist). I was imagining that checklists were in operating rooms since decades ago, and as common in the medical world as in the commercial or military flying. But not at all. As the author explains, Pronovost -one of the early adopters of checklists in medicine- had to work hard to convince his colleagues on how important it is to have checklists in medicine.  However he was able to present very relevant numbers of the effectiveness of such procedures and convince more relevant people.

The chapters ends returning to the example in the introduction of the 3 year old  girl saved after drowning in icy water. This was another brilliant and very emotional example of the possibilities of the checklist.


Scandinavian Momentum

I have previously posted in admiring amazement about the slow television phenomenon in Norway. There seems to be the last place on earth where life goes with that 19th century rhythm that allowed those old novels to be written and read. Does anybody have time to read Tolstoy or Stendhal anymore? But the day has 24 hours as it had 150 years ago. In the accounting of our days we have traded the hours of reading Madame Bovary for other activities and I am afraid that if we were to sit down and write on a paper exactly the terms of the trade we would be ashamed.

But anyway, in this Facebook times, there are still the Scandinavians. Take this guy, for example, Karl Ove Knausgaard and his autobiographic work:

Mr Knausgaard is the author of one of the most idiosyncratic literary works of recent years: a six-volume, 3,500-page autobiography called “My Struggle”, after Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”. It starts with a portrait of his father’s alcohol-soaked death, ends with a meditation on Hitler and takes the author through the cycle of his life. Mr Knausgaard is now 45.

From wikipedia

The books have nevertheless received almost universally favourable reviews, especially the first two volumes, and were, even before the final book’s publication, one of the greatest publishing phenomena in Norway ever. In a country of fewer than five million people, the “Min Kamp”-series have sold over 450,000 books.