Thrivner Book Club | The Checklist Manifesto

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
By Atul Gawande

book coverGawande’s main premise is that the seemingly simple concept of creating a checklist for all areas of life can actually bring about more frustrations. Checklists are multi-faceted, ever-changing, and occasionally time consuming; despite the fact that they can also be life-saving, there is still often a resistance to using one.

In a 2011 interview with the AHA forum, Gawande states, “To use a checklist, you have to be humble enough to think that you might fail.” This exemplified the unstated premise of the book, in that we as humans have a tendency to assume that we know everything. For a checklist to serve its intended purpose, we have to shed this notion, and allow ourselves to not only be wrong, but to have other people know that we were wrong (and by exactly how much).

Our discussion eventually led to whether or not personality plays a role in one’s willingness to use a checklist. The question then became a “Type A vs. Type B” categorization for people who use them or do not use them, but that may only be a fraction of the acceptance/aversion notion. Perhaps it is better to think of this more in terms of Personal life vs. Professional life when looking at not only the type of people who use them, but how they use them.

The real lesson here is that one must be willing to fail. In the end, one may end up knowing more than one list could quantify,

AHA Health Forum. (2011, July 27). Atul Gawande: The Power of Checklists [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGwOMM896Po

Gawande, Atul. Checklist Manifesto, The (HB). Penguin Books India, 2010.

Thrivner Book Club | The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age

The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age
by Archie Brown

Brown’s core argument is that a strong leader–one who dominates subordinates and the policy-making process– s not necessarily a good one. Rather, an effective and transformational leader is one who uses collaboration, persuasion, and consensus among subordinates in order to set policy and provide a direction forward.

While The Myth of the Strong Leader focuses on political leadership, the cooperative leadership qualities identified by Brown can be applied in any setting:

  • Create the vision;
  • Implement the vision through effective teams which have bought into the goals set as well as the process in getting there;
  • Know both your subject matter and the people in your sphere;
  • Use power and persuasion in calculated ways;
  • Listen to outside expert advice (i.e., do not come to believe you know best on all accounts);
  • Court those who oppose you (although that may mean overlooking some of their worst faults); and
  • Do not quash the minority for the will of the majority.

Brown concludes that people are more secure under leaders who take the necessary time to come to informed decisions about how to react in complex situations compared to those who act swiftly, thinking they know more than they really do.

Brown, Archie. The myth of the strong leader: Political leadership in the modern age. Basic Books (AZ), 2014.