Checklist Manifesto

Gawande's "Checklist Manifesto" is a powerful reminder of the importance of communication and teamwork.

Photo of Moss Pike
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Surgeon Atul Gawande sought to improve quality of care during and following surgeries and quickly discovered how checklists have transformed the aviation industry. He then studied how using simple checklists could be used in similar ways in the medical field with rather surprising results, which he shares in his fantastic book The Checklist Manifesto (cf. NPR review). Not only did using checklist drastically cut back on mistakes, but they also improved the quality of conversation that his teams had, shifting the culture within the hospital in the process. Gawande makes it clear that, in using checklists, "[j]ust ticking boxes is not the ultimate goal here. Embracing a culture of teamwork and discipline is" (160). In other words, by breaking down complex problems and going through simple routines together, we can build a stronger and more collaborative culture that can help solve these problems more effectively.

Others are already using it in establishing desired culture: Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and CEO of Square, for example, gives a copy of the book to everyone he hires; and Kathleen Cushman has argued it could help schools take culture deeper.


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Photo of Andrew Goodin

So glad to see this posted here! It aligns with the idea that innovation is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Might checklists help us systematically approach school-based challenges?

Photo of Moss Pike

Thanks, Andrew; much appreciated! I think we're on to something, and I'd like to continue to explore the idea in the challenge. I'm optimistic that we can develop a checklist procedure to look more closely at our assumptions, bias, mindset, etc. by having conversations that help us reshape our cultures. Onward!

Photo of Patrick Murray

Absolutely...both with students and colleagues.

I teach 5th grade with a co-teacher and I think we do a great job together. However, I think implementing a checklist will help ensure that we are meeting a consistent a standard for ourselves. I wonder what a student checklist for teachers would look like? Perhaps that would make for an interesting September project.

Photo of Moss Pike

Yes! I'd love to see a checklist you build with students. In particular, I'll be very curious to learn what they put on it and why. What do they value, and will it surprise us?

Photo of Andrew Goodin

Moss - I have prototyped a checklist and posted it in the ideate phase. Check it out here:

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