Our daily lives are busy and hectic, full of to do lists, grocery lists, work lists, so Atul Gawande’s recent book, Checklist Manifesto sounded intriguing to me. How was this author going to expand on doing such a simple task? Gawande’s book uses fascinating stories to make his point that no matter how expert you may be, a well-designed checklist can improve outcomes, which he has seen in his own surgical practice. As part of his research about the use of checklists, Gawande investigates the airline industries’ extensive use of checklists for their pilots. It enables the pilots to fly very complicated aircrafts in many situations. One example the author uses will be familiar to the reader, “On January 14, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 took off from La Guardia Airport in New York City with 155 people on board, struck a large flock of Canadian geese over the Manhattan, lost both engines, and famously crash-landed in the icy Hudson River”. The media dubbed it the “miracle on the Hudson.” Days later the details trickled out about the procedures and checklists that were involved in saving that airplane. The engine failure checklist was one of the first actions completed by the copilot. Teamwork and the very important checklist were instrumental in saving the flight.
This is just one fascinating example of checklists used in the airline industry, Gawande writes about other industries and how they have success too.