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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. 4 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. 4 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. 4 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

  5. 5 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.

  6. 5 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rita

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

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 5 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 5 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tim

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

  19. 4 out of 5

    John Browning

    Such a true book. Read it and apply it. No other words necessary.

  20. 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.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Liz S

    Painfully outdated and 200 pages too long.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

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    The only leadership book I've ever read that's a "page turner" in the classic sense. The majority of the book is a fable about the fictional company Yip Software and a plucky new assistant, Will, who helps the CEO revolutionize his meetings. The two overarching lessons of the book are the need for conflict and structure in any good meeting. This is presented through Will using an analogy to film and the idea that what makes a good film lies in the aforementioned: its drama and structure. On the The only leadership book I've ever read that's a "page turner" in the classic sense. The majority of the book is a fable about the fictional company Yip Software and a plucky new assistant, Will, who helps the CEO revolutionize his meetings. The two overarching lessons of the book are the need for conflict and structure in any good meeting. This is presented through Will using an analogy to film and the idea that what makes a good film lies in the aforementioned: its drama and structure. On the idea of conflict as it is presented in the book, I think the actual qualities the book is getting are emotional safety and passion. When discussing conflict, it's always presented as people being able and willing to share their honest thoughts on the topic. And this I 100% agree with; I just found calling it "conflict" to obscure the actual intent of what needs to be present in the room & in the hearts of everyone in there. If you can get your leaders to feel safe and care about the topics at hand, that's the buy-in that makes a meeting interesting because people will actually dive in with each other and hash things out. The structure the book presents -- daily check-in, weekly tactical, monthly strategic (+ad-hoc strategic, as needed), and quarterly off-site -- is certainly spot-on as a theory, but didn't feel particularly on-par in my case. I think it's a solid starting place if you're in a position where there is currently no structure for meetings at all, but I work in the software industry and, for the most part, agile practices handle this for the most part at the team-level. I don't think is a fault of the book and, like I said, may be more applicable to people in other circumstances, but for me it felt like being beaten with a book of common sense of how to split up topics. The parts about meeting structure did touch on an important topic, though: properly splitting out and communicating the types of topics for the meeting. Knowing what "level" of the business or team should be discussed at each meeting and knowing how to table topics as they creep in the wrong meeting is a good framing I think a lot of leaders could work to think about more. If a strategy level topic creeps up during a tactical meeting covering on-the-ground needs (or vice versa), everyone should know to move it to the proper meeting and get back on track. Overall, the story was structured in small, multi-page bites and moved at a good clip. It didn't waste your time, but did get you invested in the narrative. The last 20 pages or so basically breakdown what the fable was attempting to communicate in plain language. The book was excellent at definitely didn't feel like it was 250 pages. I'd definitely recommend this to any leader looking for something a little more gripping than the usual literature in this field.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Philip Haagensen

    Read most of this on a 4 hour plane ride. Who doesn't think meetings are necessary evils at best, life sucking wastes of time at worst. The trick is how do you make necessary meetings more productive and interactive? If this book can offer some insight what have I got to lose (other than $25)? The book is a story relayed in such a way as to illustrate the author's assertions. It is a quick and easy read, so you don't struggle with getting through it. I found myself underlining many key concepts, Read most of this on a 4 hour plane ride. Who doesn't think meetings are necessary evils at best, life sucking wastes of time at worst. The trick is how do you make necessary meetings more productive and interactive? If this book can offer some insight what have I got to lose (other than $25)? The book is a story relayed in such a way as to illustrate the author's assertions. It is a quick and easy read, so you don't struggle with getting through it. I found myself underlining many key concepts, only to find them summarized after the story in the ensuing chapters. My personal opinion is Lencioni is onto something here. Encourage conflict and drama in meetings as a way to get people invested in decisions. Structure the meetings according to what the goals are. He chooses to pass these ideas along via a third person narrative for emphasis. Ultimately it is a little over 200 pages of fluff and about 30 pages of theory. Given the minimal amount of time needed to read this book, that's not too much to ask. But nothing too profound here, just a point of view challenging you to look at things a little differently. Not a "must read" by any stretch of the imagination but I didn't regret picking it up, either.

  24. 4 out of 5

    EL

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Most people who've experienced their fair share of meetings are not fans of them. Particularly for those in corporate environments, the idea of a meeting can invoke emotions of boredom, dread or even frustration and resentment. Through another well-written fable, the author compares meetings to movies and posits that meetings can be just as, if not more interesting, than movies. After all, we have direct, immediate agency and real vested interests in meetings, but not in movies. Drawing on the the Most people who've experienced their fair share of meetings are not fans of them. Particularly for those in corporate environments, the idea of a meeting can invoke emotions of boredom, dread or even frustration and resentment. Through another well-written fable, the author compares meetings to movies and posits that meetings can be just as, if not more interesting, than movies. After all, we have direct, immediate agency and real vested interests in meetings, but not in movies. Drawing on the theme of onscreen media, the author offers as a solution four different types of meetings, which are likened to the formats of (1) daily news highlights, (2) weekly sitcoms, (3) movies and (4) mini-series, and proposes ideas for managing their formats and contexts, so that they are relevant and engaging for the attendees. Though I think the fable could be shorter, I appreciate the expositions and characterisations set up by the author. Having suffered and succeeded in my share of meetings, the author's ideas are compelling for me; even if only half of them are carried out, I suspect it would already be a huge improvement in many peoples' lives.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alvin

    I like Lencioni and enjoy his insights into organizational leadership. Once again using his allegory style he inculcates his thoughts on bad meetings and how to change them. His concept that meetings come in different types for different purposes seems intuitively right. And I certainly agree with his analysis of failures. I wish though he gave me some references to research or empirical data that his proposed method of contextualizing meetings works. His four types are: Daily Check In, Weekly Ta I like Lencioni and enjoy his insights into organizational leadership. Once again using his allegory style he inculcates his thoughts on bad meetings and how to change them. His concept that meetings come in different types for different purposes seems intuitively right. And I certainly agree with his analysis of failures. I wish though he gave me some references to research or empirical data that his proposed method of contextualizing meetings works. His four types are: Daily Check In, Weekly Tactical, Monthly Strategic, Quarterly off-site review. I loved his description of one meeting challenge as "the tendency to overburden and over-structure the meetings, which usually takes the form of tightly scheduled slide presentations and lengthy informational sermons." He also acknowledges that for meetings to be effective, participants need to have done preparation, and be held accountable if unprepared. A good leader must hold the team accountable for that. However, the team needs to have the freedom to have conflict and disagreement about issues. Otherwise, you do not uncover the threats to the organization.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lyzette Wanzer

    This was a pretty good--and sometimes amusing--read. It surprised me, however. The author is actually meeting-friendly, as opposed to meeting-averse, which is what I expected. A few of the anecdotes were unrealistic, but for the most part they served their purpose, which was to illustrate the travails and triumphs of beneficial meetings vs. wasteful ones. The author takes into account the various personality types that comprise a typical workplace meeting. You will recognize some of these folks, This was a pretty good--and sometimes amusing--read. It surprised me, however. The author is actually meeting-friendly, as opposed to meeting-averse, which is what I expected. A few of the anecdotes were unrealistic, but for the most part they served their purpose, which was to illustrate the travails and triumphs of beneficial meetings vs. wasteful ones. The author takes into account the various personality types that comprise a typical workplace meeting. You will recognize some of these folks, and perhaps even yourself, in these narratives. The book didn't change my mind about the fact that 90% of corporate meetings are churning time sucks. Even those meetings that follow this book's models of efficient meetings are too numerous in real life. Part of the book's premise seems to be that more efficient meetings will result in fewer of them. But in reality, that's not what happens. I'm still of the opinion that, generally speaking, meetings are too frequent, too long, and--too often--useless. You might give the book a try, though--YMMV.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Burnside

    Not his best work. Lencioni is stronger when focusing on strategic principles. His books on operational tactics are more boring and fall flat. The model for meeting rhythms in this book are solid though, and if you know Scaling Up or EOS at all you’ll recognize the pattern instantly. One element that Lencioni adds beyond those other organizations that I found useful though was that he explains the rationale behind the structure instead of just giving it as prescriptive guidance. Ironically, I was Not his best work. Lencioni is stronger when focusing on strategic principles. His books on operational tactics are more boring and fall flat. The model for meeting rhythms in this book are solid though, and if you know Scaling Up or EOS at all you’ll recognize the pattern instantly. One element that Lencioni adds beyond those other organizations that I found useful though was that he explains the rationale behind the structure instead of just giving it as prescriptive guidance. Ironically, I was discussing with one of my teams just yesterday about how their meetings lacked conflict, and was trying to be too many kinds of meeting all at once. Very timely. Would still like someone’s opinion on where a governance or steering board would fit in to these rhythms - I.e. where does the “board meeting” sit exactly?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    I've enjoyed all of Lencioni's fable books and this was a quick and easy read. Despite the impression of the title, the book is not about avoiding meetings but rather making them more effective. The book focuses on those leading a team and with the authority to manage or at least influence meeting structure in the company. It is mostly applicable leadership or executive teams, but with some good lessons for front-line teams. After reading the fable, the lessons are simple and easily understandab I've enjoyed all of Lencioni's fable books and this was a quick and easy read. Despite the impression of the title, the book is not about avoiding meetings but rather making them more effective. The book focuses on those leading a team and with the authority to manage or at least influence meeting structure in the company. It is mostly applicable leadership or executive teams, but with some good lessons for front-line teams. After reading the fable, the lessons are simple and easily understandable through the cheat sheets and summaries in the back of the book. Some of the lessons that sank in for me are similar to other Lencioni books: mining for conflict (healthy debate), getting buy-in and pulling in the same direction, and thinking at different levels (tactically and strategically).

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dale Callahan

    Great book in the author's normal story mode. So much better than a regular business book that gives you dry facts. Reading the drama of how Casey might be fired for having poor meetings and his new assistant Will uses his skills as a playwright to create a new model for meetings. The key lesson to me was the key lesson is the book. We can all watch a good meeting for 2 hours, but a meeting that talks about stuff we should care about is a killer in 2 hours. The missing element is drama coming fr Great book in the author's normal story mode. So much better than a regular business book that gives you dry facts. Reading the drama of how Casey might be fired for having poor meetings and his new assistant Will uses his skills as a playwright to create a new model for meetings. The key lesson to me was the key lesson is the book. We can all watch a good meeting for 2 hours, but a meeting that talks about stuff we should care about is a killer in 2 hours. The missing element is drama coming from conflict. If you think the book is going to tell you to stop having meetings, you will be disappointed. Instead, the book is showing you have to have more productive meetings that you and the team will look forward to. Meetings will become an event and even fun. I know - we have implemented such meetings!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steve Dale

    Great insights on what makes meetings work and why they are critical to success This is my second time reading this great book. Now as an Scaled Agile coach, the different types of meetings make even more sense. When teams jump from context to context, they have trouble getting things done. Getting the right people discussing the right things and having the discipline to stay there is critical to decision making and clarity. Another point that could be the subject of another book (maybe it is alr Great insights on what makes meetings work and why they are critical to success This is my second time reading this great book. Now as an Scaled Agile coach, the different types of meetings make even more sense. When teams jump from context to context, they have trouble getting things done. Getting the right people discussing the right things and having the discipline to stay there is critical to decision making and clarity. Another point that could be the subject of another book (maybe it is already in one of his others) is that when a decision is a made, it is not rehashed in every meeting. This relates to his idea of the wasteful sneaker-time. Clear communication of decisions and guard-rails is important. Every one involved in an organization that holds meetings should read and apply this.

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