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The Checklist Manifesto Summary

Checklist Manifesto Summary Header

Checklists are for everyone

What do Johns Hopkins surgeons, anonymous big-time investors and World War II pilots have in common? This isn’t the set up for a terrible joke but a demonstration of how widespread an often-overlooked tool is – they all use checklists to avoid disaster.

For surgeons, disaster is a lethal infection caused by straying from proper precaution. For pilots, it’s crashing a plane that was deemed far too complicated to fly – the Boeing B-17. For investors, checklists avoid what is sometimes known as ‘cocaine brain’; the drive to make snap decisions on high-risk investments that often result in huge losses.

For more information on a similar process, see Warren Buffet’s Investment Checklist. It details the steps taken by the man known as the world’s greatest investor prior to parting with massive sums of money.

The Checklist Manifesto, written by writer/surgeon Atul Gawande, is proof that checklists really work (whether anyone wants to admit that or not). Check out the the Checklist Manifesto Review I wrote for more details.

In his words, if another solution that could be even a fraction as effective would be a new drug or piece of technology it would be backed by billions of dollars, sponsored by the state and be the only thing the worldwide medical journals talk about. A case he cites is the development of robots to perform tricky laparoscopic surgery. It was widely backed and implemented in many hospitals around the US to the great excitement of the medical community.

Positive results? Next to none.

Robotic Surgery

Checklists, however, are deceptively simple. The Checklist Manifesto is the tale of how Gawande took an idea first popularized by pilots into the operating theater and then out into the hospitals of the world, with the help of the World Health Organization. Not only does the book document his own research, but implementations of similar strategies, from hugely complex construction projects to Walmart’s innovative yet highly organized approach when dealing with Hurricane Katrina.

Providing a solution to human error

One of the main problems with checklists is that some feel they are above them, unable to make silly mistakes in routine procedures and not subject to human error. Gawande references a 1970s essay by Samuel Gorovitz and Alasdair MacIntyre that boils down all situations to find the only two reasons for human dilemma:

“The first is ignorance – we may err because science has given us only a partial understanding of the world and how it works. There are skyscrapers we do not yet know how to build, snowstorms we cannot predict, heart attacks we still haven’t learned how to stop. The second type of failure the philosophers call ineptitude – because in these instances the knowledge exists, yet we fail to apply it correctly. This is the skyscraper that is built wrong and collapses, the snowstorm whose signs the meteorologist just plain missed, the stab wound from a weapon the doctors forgot to ask about.”

In practical terms, ignorance can be corrected by answering the question “what do I do?” and ineptitude with “how do I do it?”. Checklists can solve both of these issues. They are great teaching tools that can be used to convey information simply, such as our Podcast Publishing Checklist, as well as highly practical, no-frills documents such as the B-17 checklist, one of the most famous of all time.

B17 Pilot's Checklist

An example that’s likely more useful to our world comes from one of the stand-out passages in the book where Gawande meets with three high-powered directors who meet to make venture capital investments in companies that have a slim chance to make a huge breakthrough. Since these investments are usually nothing short of gambling against terrible odds, this exclusive group of investors  implement one very simple tool – a checklist.

For them, this checklist is worth millions. That’s how much it has probably saved them by helping to avoid bad investments. This quote explains how Mohnish Pabrai, managing partner in Pabrai Investment Funds in Irvine, California, has taken the idea from medicine and aviation to use checklists in his work.

“Pabrai made a list of mistakes he’d seen—ones [Warren] Buffett and other investors had made as well as his own. It soon contained dozens of different mistakes, he said. Then, to help him guard against them, he devised a matching list of checks—about seventy in all.

One, for example, came from a Berkshire Hathaway mistake he’d studied involving the company’s purchase in early 2000 of Cort Furniture, a Virginia-based rental furniture business. Over the previous ten years, Cort’s business and profits had climbed impressively. Charles Munger, Buffett’s longtime investment partner, believed Cort was riding a fundamental shift in the American economy.

The business environment had become more and more volatile and companies therefore needed to grow and shrink more rapidly than ever before. As a result, they were increasingly apt to lease office space rather than buy it—and, Munger noticed, to lease the furniture, too. Cort was in a perfect position to benefit.

Everything else about the company was measuring up—it had solid financials, great management, and so on. So Munger bought. But buying was an error. He had missed the fact that the three previous years of earnings had been driven entirely by the dot-com boom of the late nineties. Cort was leasing furniture to hundreds of start-up companies that suddenly stopped paying their bills and evaporated when the boom collapsed.”

Are checklists for egomaniacs?

This cautionary tale shows what happens when a formal procedure isn’t in place when it really should be. The fact that the human brain is not so great can be proven by the amount of productivity tools, to-do lists, products like this, this and – when was the last time you forgot your baby in the car? – this.

These are tools for the simplest things! Brain surgery, alongside rocket science, has the anecdotal title as being among the most complex and difficult tasks in the history of the world.

What makes people think they don’t need tools for remembering the proper procedure? The thing is, people in these professions likely have genius-level IQs. This can result in what is known as intellectual arrogance, the features of which are:

  • They have a “my way or the highway” attitude since only their views are supposedly the right way to think.
  • They regard themselves as experts in a particular field or subject.
  • They refuse to see the big picture or another viewpoint, especially of those they consider “ignorant”.
  • They like explaining, theorizing and dictating; basically they like hearing the sound of their own voice.
  • Their mood can become very nasty if their ideas and views are contradicted.
  • They regard any question as an insult or a doubt on their intelligence.
  • They are not above creating proof and arguments to defend their theories vehemently.
  • They are very confident in their own knowledge and do not want to learn anything new.
  • Sometimes they can come across as very wannabe and attention-seeking.
  • They can get very smug and snobby, especially if they are actually right about something.
  • They pretend to be very broad-minded but actually are very narrow-minded as they feel they know everything and in the right way.


Friedrich Nietzsche
A man who fits the above description nicely.


Does this sound like the sort of person who would be open to the idea of being told what to do by a checklist?

That was the main problem Gawande ran into with the first large-scale implementation of checklists into hospitals worldwide. He notes how that the egotistical nature of surgeons plus the fact that checklists had to be read out by a subordinate created a large amount of friction among colleagues. He intended the checklists to promote teamwork in the same way we created our app to promote and streamline collaboration.

One of the first stages of the process was a friendly introduction to help everyone get on and work as efficiently as possible, knowing each others names and duties; you’d be surprised at the amount of surgeries performed by teams who have never met prior to the operation and leave the theater none the wiser as to each other’s names or positions. It was basically through the process of long trials and repeated exposure that Gawande managed to create success for his checklists.

After a while, people started to see results that were undeniable – checklists worked!

“More than 250 staff members—surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and others—filled out an anonymous survey after three months of using the checklist. In the beginning, most had been skeptical. But by the end, 80 percent reported that the checklist was easy to use, did not take a long time to complete, and had improved the safety of care. And 78 percent actually observed the checklist to have prevented an error in the operating room. Nonetheless, some skepticism persisted.

After all, 20 percent did not find it easy to use, thought it took too long, and felt it had not improved the safety of care.Then we asked the staff one more question. “If you were having an operation,” we asked, “would you want the checklist to be used?”A full 93 percent said yes.”

The Checklist ‘Eureka!’ Moment

The penultimate chapter of the book ends on a powerful note, summing up the unlikely turn of events that led to widespread checklist usage in the aviation industry. Nothing sums up the point of the book more effectively:

“We are all plagued by failures—by missed subtleties, overlooked knowledge, and outright errors. For the most part, we have imagined that little can be done beyond working harder and harder to catch the problems and clean up after them. We are not in the habit of thinking the way the army pilots did as they looked upon their shiny new Model 299 bomber—a machine so complex no one was sure human beings could fly it.

They too could have decided just to “try harder” or to dismiss a crash as the failings of a “weak” pilot. Instead they chose to accept their fallibilities. They recognized the simplicity and power of using a checklist.”

If you enjoyed reading the Checklist Manifesto, take a look at our checklist software built on the book’s great ideas. If you haven’t read it yet, you can buy the book on Amazon here. If you have, let me know your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear your opinion!

Standard Operating Procedures

Examples of Standard Operating Procedures

Companies are best served by adhering to a business-approved list of standard operating methods, also called an SOP, that ensure easy execution of all issues concerning the business. A guide outlining the common operating methods should be utilized by all members of top management as the go-to-tool in managing the day-to day operations, whether it’s a small firm with just three workers or a huge corporation that employs a 1000 workers.

In that conclusion, knowing which type of guide to use and how to take advantage of that guide is critical when the company wants to succeed in the current enterprise environment. The web is bursting with websites which are devoted to the development of standard operating methods, some websites offer cost-free services while others charge nominal fee for their services. Finding the one that is appropriate to the needs of a particular business can be found by relying on interested parties that have gained access on on-line services.

For those that want to have easy-to-use standard operating procedures/ guide to use as an outline, an example are available by visiting”>

In this site, the user-guide goes in to detail, covering all facets of the work descriptions and covering on all aspects of the pertinent services that should be contained in regard to making a functional standard operating procedures guide to serve companies .

Standard Operating Procedure Example

Added reading…

Standard Operating Procedures


A standardized working procedure is a written guide to a business’s preferred way of transaction- dealings using specified jobs, previous work-related experience, managerial insights and workers’ suggestions references . In HR, a common operating process helps guide workers toward a company’s best- proven designs, while at the same time developing a company-wide knowledge base that makes obligations, challenges and effects transparent to any or all parties involved.

A human resources standard operating procedure serves several purposes within a company.

Maybe most importantly, a common operating process helps workers identify the necessary equipment they need to succeed in meeting established professional expectations . In addition , an HR department, having an established common operating process, can make sure that all workers are managed fairly.

Because managing human assets can be a sensitive issue, a common operating process in human resources management could also provide companies with protection from employee lawsuits.

Human Resources SOPs

You might also want to consider this

Standard Operating Procedures Uncategorized

Hotel Standard Operating Procedures

SOP is an operation, unique to the management of each business organization, that describes the required tasks to complete jobs in accordance with business and provincial regulations as well as with personal requirements for managing business activities.

In a production environment, the clear example of an SOP is the step by step production line processes used in producing the merchandise and in conducting training for workers. An SOP, in reality, defines the existence of quality standards and practices in all business organizations.

SOPs play an essential role in business organizations. SOPs are standard guidelines and procedures needed in business processes, including the marketing and administration aspects of business organizations to make sure business success will be achieved.

Administrative Standard Operating Procedures

You may also want to consider this;

Standard Operating Procedures

The Best Standard Operating Procedure Software

Here is a new video we made on our product Process Street.

We built Process Street to be the best standard operating procedure software on the planet.

Watch the below video to see how it in action:

Click Here to Create a Free Account

Standard Operating Procedure Software

Standard Operating Procedure software is a kind of software that captures and structures your organizations ongoing procedures.

Procedures are generally structured in a format either derived by IOS Standards or designed in house in the company.

SOP Software is a subcategory of Enterprise Content Management or Knowledge Management and is essential for ensuring quality and consistency across an organization.

Common procedures that are documented include:

  • Human Resources
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Operations
  • Manufacturing

There are many tools out there to help you document, capture and track standard operating procedures but the tool we are building goes a step above and beyond.

The Best Standard Operating Procedure Software

Below is a video demo of our software:

Click Here to Create a Free Account

The product we have designed is called Process Street and not only does it allows you to easily capture company procedures, but it helps you execute those processes effectively, by turning documents into interactive checklists that you track and report on.

This really is a new way of handling operational documentation which traditionally is stored in flat files like word documents and wikis.

Those traditional tools are clunky and slow, forcing people to trudge through hundreds of pages of static information without breaking it down or making it easily accessible.

Process Street standard operating procedure software is also hosted on the cloud meaning it can be accessed from anywhere, anytime on any device.

Standard Operating Procedure Examples

SOP Software

Below are some example standard operating procedures designed using Process Street
Standard Operating Procedure Software

best standard operating procedure software

Here are some of the reviews from Capterra:

Standard Processes Minimize Training Costs

Pros: I love that we can create the process steps we need for all of our standard processes. We can create mandatory steps, and we can also see where a process is, and if someone is out, another person can pick it up and complete it. It’s brilliant!!

Cons: I would like a way to share processes with other Process.St customers — so they can have the processes within their Process.St account — ideally, I would like to share an entire folder of processes with someone – and that would prompt them to set up their own Process.St account, and import the processes to their account.

We would like to share these processes with our customers who need guidance on implementing certain things in their business… and it would be a way we could help Process.St grow, while serving our own customers and the growth of their businesses as well.

Overall: It has allowed us to standardize the way things get done, and document processes that are repetitively done with our customers, so we can scale our staff and get people productive a lot faster than traditional hiring and training. We love Process Street!

Nathan R. CEO

Pros: The ability to quickly edit and customize a process is very helpful. The development team has also been very helpful and responsive.

Cons: Not much – it’s clean, it just works, and the team seems to be focused on improving.

Overall: I’ve used this app to help set up meeting structures with my team. We have a set checklist of items to talk about on a regular basis, and this app helps us to move through them together, with visual aids and reminders, with checklists, and more, in a way that we choose.

I also use it for repeating processes in my own planning, journaling, and decision making. I’ve taken checklists from personal development speakers and writers, and broken their ideas/suggestions into tasks. With Process.St, i can set them up with reminders, visuals, and videos in ways that help me cruise through these tasks to get the results smoothly and easily.

Recommendations to other buyers: Get started with it! Also, check out “The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande – it could be a good introduction with regards to setting up processes.