The Checklist Manifesto may look like yet another self-help or productivity book. But I found it to be a well-written book on the power of the humble checklist.
Its author, Atul Gawande, is a surgeon who has helped to create a checklist now used by hospitals worldwide. When hospitals began using the checklist, they reduced deaths and major complications during surgery by more than 30% (wow!)
The checklist itself is simple, only covering the most important steps during a surgery. Think things like confirming a patient's identity, or making sure they've received antibiotics. These key steps might seem trivial, but on average, one of these steps was missed in two thirds of surgery patients.
In the book, Gawande also takes the time to explore how other industries use checklists, for flying planes, building skyscrapers or running investment firms. Altogether, he made a pretty compelling case for the power of checklists.
The book proves that checklists work in medicine and other industries, but what about for developers? A developer’s checklist could include things like:
It might seem silly to have such a checklist, but the idea here is to keep the tasks simple. If you miss them (and let’s face it, sometimes we do) they could have big consequences. Misunderstanding a requirement from a stakeholder could force you to rewrite part of your code. And if you shipped a bug to production you could have some angry customers on your hands.
The Checklist Manifesto was a fun read, with lots of interesting examples of how different industries are using checklists. Among the many productivity books I've read over the years, this one is up there! I can definitely see the value this could add to my own life - I just need to figure out what these checklists could look like.