Sunday, January 7, 2024


There's a word in Japanese language that describes the phenomenon of acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one's home without reading them. It is also used to refer to books ready for reading later when they are on a bookshelf. That word is Tsundoku (積ん読).

Like most amongst us, I too have such pile of books that have been in 'to read sometime in the future' list. 'The Checklist Manifesto' by Dr. Atul Gawande that I had brought years ago but couldn't somehow get to read it. I am glad this book would no longer feature in my 'Tsundoku' as managing to traverse through to it's last page recently.

The book is fascinating as it justifies the curiosity I had before I brought the book? How effective can a simple concept like checklist be? And can it really create a difference?

Atul Gawande (a renowned surgeon, writer, and public health researcher) makes a compelling case that checklists can help us manage the extreme complexity of the modern world. He opines that it is not enough to just 'know' something but real challenge is to make sure that we apply the knowledge consistently and correctly.

As an example, he cites a staggering data point that the ICU doctors, nurses and attendants need to take ~178 individual actions per day per patient. Failure to miss even 1% of these tasks can be a difference between life and death. His team successfully applied checklists in this and many other complex situations.

He argues that 'Failure results not so much from ignorance (not knowing enough about what works) as from ineptitude (not properly applying what we know works)'.

Here's my little sketchnote featuring the points I liked from this book. Would recommend reading it.

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