The first checklists in aviation went into use four generations ago, but their potential to prevent errors and save lives is only now beginning to be appreciated among other professions, such as finance.
Gawande tells the story of Mohnish Pabrai, an investment manager in
Lists help Pabrai analyze potential investments more efficiently, Gawande writes. He says Pabrai’s investments more than doubled in a year after he developed checklists to prevent about 70 kinds of errors, such as failing to look for effects tied to boom or bust cycles.
If lists help people make fewer errors, why isn’t their use more common? Gawande says many investors have no interest in procedures like Pabrai’s, and there are hospitals and doctors who don’t like checklists either.
“We are built for novelty and excitement, not for careful attention to detail,” Gawande writes. “Discipline is something we have to work at.” His fascinating book presents a convincing case that adopting more checklists will surely help.