#73/111: The Checklist Manifesto

What is it about?

There’s a instrument to decrease deaths rates and infection rates in hospitals significantly. It costs near to nothing. It’s a checklist. Atul Gawande, who is a cancer surgeon, talks about introducing checklists in the medical sector.

What can I learn?

Simple and critical: There’s a lot of research on checklists predominately for aircrafts. These researchers found in over 30 years research that checklists have to be simple and critical. They shouldn’t be detailed instructions. The aim of checklists is to remind the users of critical actions. Like closing the cargo hold on an aircraft or disinfect the working area on a human body before surgery.

Test it: Nobody can think of everything, therefore testing is necessary. Observe your checklists in action and try to improve them. If you checklist is too long, only a few people will use it. If they don’t understand how your checklist will improve anything, they won’t use it. Observe and improve.

Empowering people and discipline: Checklist aren’t about bureaucracy. They empower people and make them more disciplined. You help the practitioners to improve their work.


The Checklist Manifesto is terrific. The stories are thrilling and he got great story telling skills. You can feel how checklists improved their lives and lives of others. Furthermore, it’s pretty short and concise. A similar book on checklists in business is The E-Myth. Recommendation!

#32/111: Battling Big Box

What is it about?

How to run a small business? Henry Dubroff and Susan J. Marks talked to a lot of entrepreneurs and asked them what makes their businesses successful.

Key points?

Empower your employees: You can’t win alone. If you start alone try to outsource non-core functions of your company. A financial adviser said that even he outsources accounting because it’s not a core function of financial advisory. Later, you are going to hire personnel for your company. Don’t hire the first person you interviewed, try to find great people and train them properly.

Build a brand: If you are just a commodity, people will switch their supplier fast. Try to differentiate yourself from your competition. Offer better service, use technology or be innovative. If you built a brand people will recognize you and rather stick with your service/product.

Your customers are your assets: Without customers, there’s no business. Try to get longterm customers because they will provide longterm success.

Build for profitability: Often people neglect that it takes time to get profitable. So, business owner give up too early or the can’t reach break-even because they started with too many liabilities. Start small, test your market and expand.


If you want to start a small business this book is a reliable source for important concepts. It’s not especially exciting or new but it’s extremely solid. I think there are enough people who would definitely increase their success rate if they would read this book.

#22/111: Eyeballs Out

What is it about?

What is life about on an aircraft carrier? And how can it be applied to business? Donna Sturgess experienced this for her own for two days and wrote about her discoveries she made.

Key points?

Create thrill: Often big organizations lack of risk-taking people. If you want to turn risk-averse people into risk-taking people you should try to create thrill. Introduce new concepts, let people take risks for themselves. This action can revitalize your company.

Immerse yourself: One key point of IDEO’s success is observing the consumer. Mrs Sturgess recommends a similar concept. You should immerse yourself into a new setting (e.g. NASCAR racing, glassblowing). This allows you to get a new vantage point which probably results into new ideas.

Use games: I really like this point. Use games – built a game-like environment. That is, you can use badges for achievements, e.g. first 100 sales, first product shipped or first marketing campaign launched. Furthermore, she proposes to use more interactive strategy games for business (maybe realtime?). It’s an vague idea but somehow really cool and exciting.

Empower young employees: Empowerment isn’t new to business but this approach is. On the USS Stennis (the aircraft carrier) the average sailor is 20 years old and they got a lot of responsibility. In companies, the average age is usually much higher. But if you don’t allow young people to learn and take responsibility, you don’t empower them.


This book is pretty short but got some really great ideas. I can’t really estimate the impact because it was published this year though I think that it can improve the business world. In conclusion, read it for yourself and decide if it is worth or not.