“Why do we even meet?” I thought to myself after walking to my office from an exhausting two hour meeting. Another hour long meeting of not accomplishing anything. People were uninterested and unengaged, most were on their phones or computers. How do we fix this issue? Do we stop having meetings?
Businesses have accepted that meetings are necessary, but agrees they are terrible most of the time. Patrick Lencioni, author of Death by Meeting, wants to change that mindset. He poignantly states:
“The fact is, bad meetings are a reflection of bad leaders. Worse yet, they take a more devastating toll on a company’s success than we realize…Meetings are what leaders do, and the solution to bad meetings is not the elimination of them, but rather the transformation of them into meaningful, engaging and relevant activities.”
Death by Meeting
In Lencioni’s Death by Meeting, he explains that meetings lack drama, context and purpose. The book is written as a leadership fable. It is the story of Casey McDaniel who is a kind and gracious boss, but doesn’t know how to lead a meeting if his job depended on it. Much to his chagrin, a new superior tells him that he job does depend on his meeting performance. The story follows Casey and his young advisor Will Peterson as they come up with a meeting philosophy.
Lencioni proposes that all meetings need context. He comes up with four meeting types that help shape the context for each.
Furthermore, he states that meetings need drama. Like a good movie, in the first ten minutes it captures your attention. Leaders need to do the same thing, they need to capture the attention of the people in the meeting quickly. Healthy conflict should happen in meetings, this is what will make companies successful in innovation.
As for the book, I would recommend it to anyone who is leading meetings on a regular basis. It is a quick read (I read it over one weekend) and easy to comprehend. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, you can just read the executive summary at the end of the book.
What meeting strategies have worked for you? (Leave your comments below)
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