“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 downright awful, out of control or went on forever. DEATH BY MEETING: A Leadership Fable . . . about solving the most painful problem in business by Patrick Lencioni examines 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 the role they play.
WHO HASN’T BEEN in a meeting that seemed more like an exercise in checking the box? Have you ever walked away from a meeting thinking “you guys spend more time getting less done and avoiding anything remotely interesting.” There are few things in life that people across gender, race or 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 provides many options that provide the foundation to improving meeting participation and productivity by reducing the number of long, potentially unproductive meetings coupled with effective time management. Mr. Lencioni uses the backdrop of television shows and movie formats to make his point, as well as identifying four types of meetings.
THE FOUR TYPES OF MEETINGS executed correctly and effectively can greatly improve the productivity and morale of any team. “There is simply no substitute for a good meeting – a dynamic, passionate, and focused engagement. Bad meetings almost always lead to bad decisions, which is the best recipe for mediocrity.”
- The DAILY CHECK-IN lasts 5-minutes, also known as, the DAILY HEADLINE NEWS (straight to the point within 5 minutes). These meetings “help team members avoid confusion about how priorities are translated into action on a regular basis.”
- The WEEKLY TACTICAL lasts between 45-90 minutes, also known as, the WEEKLY SITCOM/CRIME DRAMA (everything gets solved by the end of the show). These meetings “focus on issues of immediate concern.”
- The MONTHLY/AD HOC STRATEGIC lasts 2-4 hours, also known as, MOVIE (complete with drama, plot twists, etc.). These meetings “allow executives to dive into a given topic or two without distractions.”
- The QUARTERLY OFF-SITE review lasts 1-2 days, also known as, a MINI-SERIES (character development – 6 hours or more). These meetings “improve team unity.”
A GOOD PLACE TO START would be 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.” One of the “single biggest structural problem facing leaders of meetings is the tendency to throw every type of issue that needs to be discussed into the same.”
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, habitually being late or even texting during the meeting. These are all examples of passive aggressive power plays. DEATH BY MEETING provides practical best practices that can be implemented with very little effect.
THOUGHTS for your SOUL:
- “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 whether they’re supposed to be debating, voting, brainstorming, weighing in or just listening.”
- “The only thing more painful than confronting an uncomfortable topic is pretending it doesn’t exist.”
- “When we fail to get clarity and alignment during meetings, we set in motion a colossal wave of human activity as executives and their direct reports scramble to figure out what everyone else is doing and why.”
MANY MEETINGS are led by people (sometimes the office bullies) who have no clue about meeting etiquette, are bent on pushing their agenda without utilizing the art of negotiation and/or compromise. Whether you are the participant or the meeting chair you have a responsibility to be engaged, be prepared and bring your “A” game to every meeting. Remember, time is the one commodity that you cannot make more of, once it’s gone, it’s gone! 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.
*This review was originally posted on September 3, 2014, slight content changes were made to this version.