Death by Meeting

EDITORS CHOICE-PAID FORcanstockphoto6036875Who hasn’t been in a boring, waste of time, check the box meeting at least more times than you care to admit? Have you ever walked away from a meeting thinking “you guys spend more time getting less done and avoiding anything remotely interesting!”  There are very few things in life that people across gender, race and class can agree upon that they dislike doing. If you had to guess, attending bad meetings would probably be close to the top. DEATH BY MEETING – A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business  by Patrick Lencioni provides clear, concise options to get everyone engaged.

Bad meetings almost always lead to bad decisions, which is a recipe for mediocrity.”  Truth be told, many of us have attended, facilitated or heard about meetings that didn’t go well, were down right awful, out of control or went on forever. One thing DEATH BY MEETING does very well is to examine the purpose for having meetings and how each participant can potentially “sabotage” the meeting by not understanding what type of meeting they are attending and their role.

One important place to start would be with the meeting agenda. The agenda “should be based on what everyone is actually working on and how the company is performing against its goals, not based on the leader’s best guess 48 hours prior to the meeting.” The true pearls of the book – are the keys to reducing the number of long, potentially unproductive meetings coupled with effective time management. However Mr. Lencioni uses the backdrop of television shows and movie formats to make his point. The four types of meetings if done correctly can greatly improve the productivity and morale of any team.

  • The Daily Check-in meeting (a 5 minute meeting) aka Daily Headline News (straight to the point within 5 minutes).
  • The Weekly Tactical meeting (a 45-90 minute meeting) aka Weekly Sitcom/Crime Drama (everything gets solved by the end of the show – 1 hr).
  • The Monthly/Ad Hoc Strategic meeting (a 2-4 hr meeting) aka Movie (complete with drama, plots twists, etc.- 2hrs).
  • The Quarterly Off-Site review meeting (a 1-2 day meeting) aka Mini-Series (character development – 6 hrs or more).

There are many subconscious ways that a meeting can be “sabotaged.” For example, having too many sidebar meetings going on during the main meeting. Not showing up on time (or habitually being late), or even texting during the meeting. These are all examples of passive aggressive power plays. The author gives practical examples that can be implemented with very little effort.


  • “Bad meetings at the executive level usually indicated a huge gap between performance and potential.”
  • “There is no clear content for the various discussions that take place…little is decided because the participants have a hard time figuring out whether they’re supposed to be debating, voting, brainstorming, weighing in, or just listening.”
  • “If you lose people in the first 10 minutes, if you don’t hook them your through.”

Ever so often you come across a book that has the capacity to impact your life in such a profound way. Whether you are the participant or the chair you have a responsibility to bring your “A” game to every meeting. After all time is the one commodity that you cannot make more of, once it’s gone it’s gone and meetings are going to be around long after we have all taken our last breath.

Let’s BOND over BOOKS  rates DEATH BY MEETING as MELODICALLY MEANINGFUL (151-300 pgs)…just the right mixture of content and pages.







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