An introduction to Atul Gawande and the The Checklist Manifesto

Many of you will have heard me evangelise (or maybe drone on, depending upon your view-point) about the work of Atul Gawande for 18 months or so.  In particular his book the Checklist Manifesto is an excellent read and is immensely relevant to traders.  I think its a fascinating book and I suggest it to all my clients to read and inwardly digest.

Whilst actually about failures in surgery the NY Times succinctly described the book’s message as follows:

“Atul Gawande, a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, makes the case that checklists can help us manage the extreme complexity of the modern world. In medicine, he writes, the problem is “making sure we apply the knowledge we have consistently and correctly.” Failure, he argues, results not so much from ignorance (not knowing enough about what works) as from ineptitude (not properly applying what we know works).”

I believe this to be equally true for trading.  Many of the clients I work with have more than ample technical knowledge about markets and trading….they just fail to apply that knowledge in a consistent and correct manner.

One of the ways we can help ourselves is to have drawn up a series of check-lists for our trading business. Yes it sounds dull and boring…..but it works!  Atul gives a great history of how checklists came about from the Aviation Industry.  Having been exposed to that environment I can assure you they’re taken very seriously.  Whether it’s the first day on the job or his last day after a 30 year career a Pilot will always go through his checklists.  They work. Simple as that.

The link below has a review of the book plus an excerpt form the first Chapter.  I would heartily recommend adding the book to your trading collection.  You’ll be pleased you did.


*** UPDATE*** – Here is a link to a TED talk given by Atul Gawande which whilst talking from a medicine perspective illustrates the success achieved by utilising simple checklists in operating theatres.

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About FXTraderPaul

A professional Trader and Coach, FXTraderPaul blogs about his adventures from the front-lines of FX Trading. A Trader and educator who can walk the walk as opposed to merely talk the talk!

View all posts by FXTraderPaul


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