I finished Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business by Patrick Lencioni yesterday, and I think it could be a defining book for my ministry.
Lencioni writes through a fable rather than a theoretical model. At first this concerned me, it didn’t seem normal, and I wondered if I was going to get bored. Instead the opposite happened, I found the story gripping. In this book he tackles the issue of meetings – their great potential and yet the great waste of resource that they often can be.
The publishers describe the story as:
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.
Lencioni highlights the issue of having different kinds meetings (e.g. daily check-in, weekly tactical, monthly or as-needed ad hoc strategic, and quarterly off-site), each of which has a different context, purpose, structure, and timeframe. As I read this I was reminded of David Allen’s Getting Things Done which also focuses on context. His other main concept is that meetings need conflict, they need to have a difference of opinion for their to be discussion and then agreement.
Following the fable he also includes a “Model” section, attempting to highlight and explain the theory that was demonstrated in the fable.
As I read the book I was struck by the inconcsistency of both the meetings I attend, but also those I chair. It’s challenged me to look at how we strcuture those, and how often are we trying to blend a number of contexts and purposes together. My hope is that as we continue to plan for next academic year I can build in some of his suggestions as to the different types of meetings that need to exist within the team.