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Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable...about Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business

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"Casey McDaniel had never been so nervous in his life." "In just ten minutes, The Meeting, as it would forever be known, would begin. Casey had every reason to believe that his performance over the next two hours would determine the fate of his career, his financial future, and the company he had built from scratch." ""How could my life have unraveled so quickly?" he wonder "Casey McDaniel had never been so nervous in his life." "In just ten minutes, The Meeting, as it would forever be known, would begin. Casey had every reason to believe that his performance over the next two hours would determine the fate of his career, his financial future, and the company he had built from scratch." ""How could my life have unraveled so quickly?" he wondered." In his latest page-turning work of business fiction, best-selling author Patrick Lencioni provides readers with another powerful and thought-provoking book, this one centered around a cure for the most painful yet underestimated problem of modern business: bad meetings. And what he suggests is both simple and revolutionary. Casey McDaniel, the founder and CEO of Yip Software, is in the midst of a problem he created, but one he doesn't know how to solve. And he doesn't know where or who to turn to for advice. His staff can't help him; they're as dumbfounded as he is by their tortuous meetings. Then an unlikely advisor, Will Peterson, enters Casey's world. When he proposes an unconventional, even radical, approach to solving the meeting problem, Casey is just desperate enough to listen. As in his other books, Lencioni provides a framework for his groundbreaking model, and makes it applicable to the real world. "Death by Meeting" is nothing short of a blueprint for leaders who want to eliminate waste and frustration among their teams, and create environments of engagement and passion.


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"Casey McDaniel had never been so nervous in his life." "In just ten minutes, The Meeting, as it would forever be known, would begin. Casey had every reason to believe that his performance over the next two hours would determine the fate of his career, his financial future, and the company he had built from scratch." ""How could my life have unraveled so quickly?" he wonder "Casey McDaniel had never been so nervous in his life." "In just ten minutes, The Meeting, as it would forever be known, would begin. Casey had every reason to believe that his performance over the next two hours would determine the fate of his career, his financial future, and the company he had built from scratch." ""How could my life have unraveled so quickly?" he wondered." In his latest page-turning work of business fiction, best-selling author Patrick Lencioni provides readers with another powerful and thought-provoking book, this one centered around a cure for the most painful yet underestimated problem of modern business: bad meetings. And what he suggests is both simple and revolutionary. Casey McDaniel, the founder and CEO of Yip Software, is in the midst of a problem he created, but one he doesn't know how to solve. And he doesn't know where or who to turn to for advice. His staff can't help him; they're as dumbfounded as he is by their tortuous meetings. Then an unlikely advisor, Will Peterson, enters Casey's world. When he proposes an unconventional, even radical, approach to solving the meeting problem, Casey is just desperate enough to listen. As in his other books, Lencioni provides a framework for his groundbreaking model, and makes it applicable to the real world. "Death by Meeting" is nothing short of a blueprint for leaders who want to eliminate waste and frustration among their teams, and create environments of engagement and passion.

30 review for Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable...about Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business

  1. 5 out of 5

    Parcoast

    Pros for this title are easy to come up with: It was a quick read. The information is easily consumable. The resulting recommendation is fairly specific and easy to implement. The concept behind this strategy for your meetings seems solid. Cons are that the information, while easy to test, does not seem to come from any sort of empirical source. Most of it sounds like Lencioni conjured it up from nothing. I'm OK with that, since that is how I have come up with some of my best work, but it is an e Pros for this title are easy to come up with: It was a quick read. The information is easily consumable. The resulting recommendation is fairly specific and easy to implement. The concept behind this strategy for your meetings seems solid. Cons are that the information, while easy to test, does not seem to come from any sort of empirical source. Most of it sounds like Lencioni conjured it up from nothing. I'm OK with that, since that is how I have come up with some of my best work, but it is an easy criticism for a business book. The strategy sounds good, but will require some tweaking, I think to work in various situations, and I don't think it provides an end-to-end solution to business woes, or even challenges with making your meetings effective. If I were to sum up the message of the book in a way that I could stand behind it 100%, it would be: "If you want your meetings to be more effective, and ultimate contribute to the bottom line of your business, then introduce healthy conflict within a light weight structure. Let the attendees emotion be the driving energy behind good decisions and business success."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brian Cassada

    It was a good book with great intentions. I think the allegory that the information was set upon was good and applicable. However, I found that it got in the way for me. I read for growth and information. I was looking for the information to come to light and had to wait until the end. Everything the book was about could have been summed up in 5 or 6 pages.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Thelma

    "Death by Meeting" was my first Lencioni book and I am definitely a fan. Having seen him first at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit when he was a last-minute fill-in for Howard Schultz of Starbucks, I was immediately impressed by his humor and insights. I wasn't surprised that he was invited back the following year and again this year for the 2013 lineup. The book is an engaging tale on what spells the difference between meetings that are alive and dead. Do not expect a linear narrative; "Death by Meeting" was my first Lencioni book and I am definitely a fan. Having seen him first at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit when he was a last-minute fill-in for Howard Schultz of Starbucks, I was immediately impressed by his humor and insights. I wasn't surprised that he was invited back the following year and again this year for the 2013 lineup. The book is an engaging tale on what spells the difference between meetings that are alive and dead. Do not expect a linear narrative; it is a "fairy tale" if you will, set in a modern-day conference room where managers at a make-believe company go through the motions of ineffective meetings that lead to nowhere in the name of productivity. One could skip these parts and go straight to the points highlighted in the last section of the book, but you would totally miss out on the illustration the first part lends. Our management team implemented the strategies we learned from "Death By Meeting" at the start of the year, and I must admit, in my experience, we are not only tighter as a team, we are more productive and efficient at getting things done. I highly recommend teams read and discuss this book together to truly get the most out of it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nuno Pereira

    I didn't give this book a 5 star because I already follow a lot of these practices. It's not about the quantity of meetings (although they can be reduced sometimes) but mostly about the quality and value of them. I know a lot of people and leaders who should read this story, it would make the work of a lot of people easier and better. As always the story of the book is very good!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tõnu Vahtra

    No doubt the best book I have read on meetings. I was already familiar with the concepts from other Lencioni books (The Advantage, Five Dysfunctions and others) but this one goes in depth with all the key elements of an efficient meeting. I will definitely try to implement these principles and structure in my teams as much as I'm able to. Two problems with meetings: *Meetings are boring because they lack drama or conflict (rather than mining for conflict most managers are focused on avoiding tens No doubt the best book I have read on meetings. I was already familiar with the concepts from other Lencioni books (The Advantage, Five Dysfunctions and others) but this one goes in depth with all the key elements of an efficient meeting. I will definitely try to implement these principles and structure in my teams as much as I'm able to. Two problems with meetings: *Meetings are boring because they lack drama or conflict (rather than mining for conflict most managers are focused on avoiding tensions and finishing meetings on time). *Meetings are ineffective because they lack contextual structure. Because there is no clarity around what topics are appropriate, there is no clear context for the various discussions that take place. In the end little is decided because the participants have hard time figuring out whether they're supposed to be debating, voting, brainstorming, weighing in or just listening. LACK OF DRAMA OR CONFLICT Meetings VS movies: *Meetings are interactive, movies are not. *Meetings are directly relevant to our lives, movies are not. THE HOOK. The key is to set up the plot form the outside (participants need to understand and appreciate what is at stake). MINING FOR CONFLICT AND REAL-TIME PERMISSION. Leader can minimize the discomfort and maximize the likelihood that conflict will continue by interrupting the participants and reminding them that what they are doing is good. LACK OF CONTEXTUAL STRUCTURE Meeting stew - the tendency to throw every type of issue that needs to be discussed into the same meeting, like a bad stew with too many random ingredients. THE FOUR MEETINGS 1) THE DAILY CHECK-IN requires that team members get together, standing up, for about five minutes every morning to report on their activities that day. Purpose is to help team members to avoid confusion about how priorities are translated into action on a regular basis. It provides as quick forum for ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks on a given day and that no one steps on anyone else's toes. Just as important, it helps eliminate the need for unnecessary and time consuming e-mail chains about schedule coordination. Challenge is to get team members to stick with it initially, long enough to make it part of their routine. Also keeping it to five minutes. 2) THE WEEKLY TACTICAL (45-90 minutes) Critical elements: The lightning round: Everyone indicates their 2-3 priorities for the week, it should take each member no more than one minute. Sets tone for the rest of the meeting. By giving all participants a real sense of the actual activities taking place in the organization, it makes it easy for the team to identify potential redundancies, gaps or other issues that require immediate attention. Progress review: routine reporting of critical information or metrics (revenue, expenses, customer satisfaction, inventory etc. ) Point is to get into the habit of reviewing progress relating to key metrics for success, but not every metric available (4-6 max). Should take max 5 minutes, lengthy discussions should be avoided. Real-time agenda: agenda should not be set before the meeting, but only after previous two rounds have taken place. Topics that need to be discussed should pop out. Mainly tactical issues that should be addressed to ensure that short-term objectives are not in jeopardy. Two overriding goals: resolution of issues and reinforcement of clarity. Obstacles need to be identified and removed, and everyone needs to be on the same page. Challenges that prevent proper implementation: *temptation to set an agenda ahead of time, either formally or informally *tendency for team members to go too much into details during the lightning round, causes others to lose interest, thus clouds the ability of the team to identify the right issues for discussion and resolution. *temptation to get into discussion about long-term strategic issues. There isn't enough time for that. The tendency of leaders to inappropriately reconsider strategic decisions when faced with inevitable tactical obstacles. Limiting weekly tactical meetings to specific, short-term topics requires people to focus on solving problems, rather than backing off on long-term decisions that have already been made. Key to overcoming this is discipline, taking strategic topics off the table and taking them to the monthly strategic meeting. 3)THE MONTHLY STRATEGIC MEETING The meeting where executives wrestle with, analyze, debate and decide upon critical issues (but only a few) that will affect the business in fundamental ways. Allow executives to dive into a given topic or two without the distractions of deadlines and tactical concerns. Advisable to schedule at least 2 hours per topic. Sometimes ad-hoc strategic meetings are also needed(the most important meeting that occurs in an organization). It demonstrates that an executive team knows how to identify those rare strategic issues that deserve immediate attention even at the expense of the urgent but less important tactical concerns that surface every day. Challenges: *failure to schedule enough time for them *putting too many items on the agenda *most executives have too many tactical and administrative items on their schedules *the failure to do research and preparation ahead of time *the fear of conflict 4)THE QUARTERLY OFF-SITE REVIEW Provide executives an opportunity to regularly step away from the daily, weekly and even monthly issues that occupy their attention, so they can review the business in a more holistic manner. Possible topics: *comprehensive strategy review. *team review (assess themselves and their behaviors as a team). *personnel review. Talking about the key employees within the organization, also poor performers. *competitive and industry review. Challenges: *tendency to over-burden and over-structure the meetings (tightly scheduled slide presentations and lengthy information sermons). *making those meetings too much of a boondoggle (exotic locations, travel, too many social activities etc). *inviting outsiders to to attend the meeting in the spirit of inclusivity, it is a very bad idea because it changes the team dynamic significantly (only exception is using outside facilitator who is trusted by the team). “When a group of intelligent people come together to talk about issues that matter, it is both natural and productive for disagreement to occur. Resolving those issues is what makes a meeting productive, engaging, even fun.” “To make meetings less boring, leaders must look for legitimate reasons to provoke and uncover relevant, constructive ideological conflict. By doing so, they’ll keep people engaged, which leads to more passionate discussions, and ultimately, to better decisions.” “Well, strategy. The competitive landscape. Morale. The dynamics of the executive team. Top performers. Bottom performers. Customer satisfaction. Pretty much everything that has a long-term impact on the success of the company. Stuff you just can’t cover in weekly or monthly meetings.”

  6. 5 out of 5

    Luis

    Love it. The fable was great: short and entertaining. The learnings are even greater. If meetings are part of what you do at your job then you'll learn something from this book. How to act during meetings or how to split them by context

  7. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    "Meetings are boring" (223). "Meetings are ineffective" (223). BINGO. "Meetings are boring because they lack drama" (224). "Meetings are ineffective because they lack contextual structure" (224). "Because there is no clarity around what topics are appropriate, there is no clear context for the various discussions that take place. In the end, 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 li "Meetings are boring" (223). "Meetings are ineffective" (223). BINGO. "Meetings are boring because they lack drama" (224). "Meetings are ineffective because they lack contextual structure" (224). "Because there is no clarity around what topics are appropriate, there is no clear context for the various discussions that take place. In the end, 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" (224). BULLSEYE. "...bad meetings exact a toll on the human beings who must endure them, and this goes far beyond mere momentary dissatisfaction. Bad meetings, and what they indicate and provoke in an organization, generate real human suffering in the form of anger, lethargy, and cynicism" (253). BAM! This fable was fun to read and enlightening. The author unequivocally advocates CONFLICT in meetings. While conflict is uncomfortable, I can hop on this BANDWAGON!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    I’m a Lencioni fan. His tables are generally engaging and his models provide concrete implementation to personal and professional life. I most appreciated the idea that all meetings are bad because they lack two things: conflict and contextual structure. I’ve been on staff teams where there has been these two elements and I’ve been on teams where this is lacking. Lecioni compares meetings to movies. Each lasts about the same time. Yet, when asking if a room of executives would rather go to a mee I’m a Lencioni fan. His tables are generally engaging and his models provide concrete implementation to personal and professional life. I most appreciated the idea that all meetings are bad because they lack two things: conflict and contextual structure. I’ve been on staff teams where there has been these two elements and I’ve been on teams where this is lacking. Lecioni compares meetings to movies. Each lasts about the same time. Yet, when asking if a room of executives would rather go to a meeting or a movie, most always pick movies. There is drama, there is conflict, and there is eventual resolution. But the audience have a passive role and can’t participate. Meetings, on the other hand, *can* have those same elements and have engagement when the teams are pushed to engage in healthy ways.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kristine Olsen

    Very fast read with some helpful hints on how to handle meetings. I really like his fable style of writing. It makes what could be a tedious topic more relatable and more fun to learn about. I now know where we got our style of meetings from, especially the morning stand-up. I'm wondering if there could be room to adopt more of his suggestions, like the weekly tactical meeting where we let everybody know what we're working on and then feel our way towards a topic to cover in a later/longer meeti Very fast read with some helpful hints on how to handle meetings. I really like his fable style of writing. It makes what could be a tedious topic more relatable and more fun to learn about. I now know where we got our style of meetings from, especially the morning stand-up. I'm wondering if there could be room to adopt more of his suggestions, like the weekly tactical meeting where we let everybody know what we're working on and then feel our way towards a topic to cover in a later/longer meeting. I do see the value of his process in that it will keep people both focused on goals and accountable to them. Overall, it was an enjoyable read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mike Moore

    Lencioni generally provides his business insights in a YA novel format, which works fairly well since it makes the books short and uncluttered by focusing on one narrative. However, in this book the business insights and the narrative seem disjointed. The story of Will, a bright young man lacking clear direction, is only connected to the point of making meetings better in the most tangential of ways. The model for meeting structure is good, but it only takes about 3 pages to cover it. The rest o Lencioni generally provides his business insights in a YA novel format, which works fairly well since it makes the books short and uncluttered by focusing on one narrative. However, in this book the business insights and the narrative seem disjointed. The story of Will, a bright young man lacking clear direction, is only connected to the point of making meetings better in the most tangential of ways. The model for meeting structure is good, but it only takes about 3 pages to cover it. The rest of this book is disposable.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andy Rodriguez

    I heard about this book from a mentor of mine and have wanted to read it for years. I'm glad I did. I want to take some of the ideas and incorporate the priorities of separate "meetings" into my life. I think it's good to know when to tackle something.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Kassing

    This was an interesting read. I would agree with most of what the author says. Especially the parts about meetings being life suckers that aren't contextually defined or lack passion. Meetings matter which means we should discuss things that matter in them.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Fast read. I love the “story” method of approaching a leadership topic. Insightful and helpful if you are tired of meetings at your job. Not every idea will work for your context, but I have not seen a better philosophy on the topic so well communicated.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    If you are into making meetings better and think about how they work, this book is worth the read. Short, uses movie and tv analogies. Meetings should have a hook to it, a conflict. Be aware when you overload your meetings with different focus level topics

  15. 5 out of 5

    Samcwright

    Little better than your typical business book...which are terrible. This actually had a couple good points compared to 100% garbage in other business books.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    Like a lot the fable. Don't like the aftermath. Doesn't give much added value after the fable.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Miss Canthus

    3.5 Stars. Quick read, Information is easy to grasp and there are some really good suggestions for Meetings. I normally hate books that are non-fiction behind a fiction story but this one was really enjoyable. Of course the content can be brocken down to a few pages (end of the book) but anyways.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    Easy and quick to read, engaging and helps you make sense of what could otherwise be a very dull topic!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Julia Sandler

    This was recommended Death By Meetings by a peer, when I mentioned that our leadership meetings were feeling ineffective and confused. It's a quick read and offers some simple, easy to introduce structure. A good 'back to basics' for making meetings more effective.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Justin de la Cruz

    This is fiction book that tells a whole story just so the author can hit you with some practical knowledge about a certain subject. The subject here is business meetings: Lencioni has some good tips on how to conduct meetings - different types of meetings for different purposes, let conflict come out, don't plan for tactical meetings - but I didn't need an entire story about an ex-golfer-turned-manager, filled with completely flat characters to get these tips. The appendices included (that come This is fiction book that tells a whole story just so the author can hit you with some practical knowledge about a certain subject. The subject here is business meetings: Lencioni has some good tips on how to conduct meetings - different types of meetings for different purposes, let conflict come out, don't plan for tactical meetings - but I didn't need an entire story about an ex-golfer-turned-manager, filled with completely flat characters to get these tips. The appendices included (that come after the fable), coupled with a few pages from the main narrative could be made into a very strong and precise article-length treatment on how to make business meetings better.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Liza Fireman

    Lencioni is a good storyteller as usual. He compares meetings to entertainment - movies, sitcoms, breaking new and mini series. He explains how much conflict is important and the necessary separation between the different types of meetings and all with his engaging fables. If your meetings are boring and you would look at the clock anticipating the end of the meeting you should read this book. And in general, I would recommend all of his books. Definitely worth the time reading.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Piotr Uryga

    This is one of the books that are giving perspective on most dreaded topic of corporate world: meetings. Funny thing is it advertise to have more of them and even though it's counterintuitive it makes sense. Simple division based on context and not mixing tactical day by day topics with strategy changes is something that makes all the sense. On top of it, it's fable with real characters which for me is always refreshing and more enjoyable to read / listen.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marjorie Elwood

    I'm not sure why business authors feel compelled to write book-long fables instead of concise articles about their ideas, but at least this one has some compelling thoughts about how to make meetings more useful, interesting, and profitable to the organization. You can skip to the end of the book, where Lencioni delineates his suggestions.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chase Dougherty

    Great book for certain people Phenomenal writer who is great at capturing the internal thoughts people have in life. I felt like I was literally in the room for some of the moments. However, I almost wish I would have just read the last chapter and went on with life haha. Time is precious!

  25. 4 out of 5

    David

    Great lessons for preparing meetings. The leadership fable is well-written and engaging and the meeting model, although not necessarily applicable to all business models and organizations certainly introduces some issues that can (and probably should) be addressed by any organization.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    At first, I was not into the fact that this was a fable.... However, as the story progressed, I found myself interested. It was a quick read with some good takeaways on different types of meetings, the goals of each, and the role that leaders should play in making the meetings worthwhile.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Vikram Chalana

    Awesome book about how to make meetings more interesting. Meetings are a super important part of the job for most business folks -- we all need to learn how to make these meetings better -- both as an attendee and as a meeting leader. Key to good meetings, in one word --- Drama!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Excellent book. Should be required for everyone at the management level.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Liz S

    Painfully outdated and 200 pages too long. Felt like being in a bad meeting about meetings.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ernesto Salce

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I think is a very good book with very good insights about meeting management. Indeed, it is unique in comparison to what I have already read. It is easy and engaging to be read. I realy liked it.

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