As total meeting nerds, we actually like to read books about meetings, especially when we can learn something from them to help you have your #bestmeetingyet.
Patrick Lencioni writes modern fables to help bring some of the more, um, dry business ideas to life. Death by Meeting is a short novel about how a company & its leader saved themselves from certain doom by re-thinking how they approach their meetings. As a novel, the book isn’t going to win any prizes, but there are some good ideas on what kinds of meetings to have, how they should be structured, and how to run them effectively.
Most of our favorite quotes came from the second section of the book, which is a more straightforward look at the content after the novel helps you envision what it looks like. If any of these quotes resonate with you, pick up the book on amazon.
Here are the best quotes from Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni:
“The hard truth is, bad meetings almost always lead to bad decisions, which is the best recipe for mediocrity.”
“The good news is that there is nothing inherent about meetings that makes them bad, and so it is entirely possible to transform them into compelling, productive, and fun activities. The bad news is that in order to do this, we will have to fundamentally rethink much of the way we perceive and manage meetings. That means we cannot keep hating them. And we must abandon our search for technological solutions that will somehow free us from having to sit down face to face. And we have to stop focusing on agendas and minutes and rules, and accept the fact that bad meetings start with the attitudes and approaches of the people who lead and take part in them.”
“Even if people had nothing else to do with their time, the monotony of sitting through an uninspired staff meeting, conference call, or two-day off-site would have to rank right up there with the most painful activities of modern business culture. And when we consider that most of the people struggling through those meetings do indeed have other things to do, that pain is only amplified.”
“The most justifiable reason to loathe meetings is that they don’t contribute to the success of our organizations.”
“Meetings are boring because they lack drama. Or conflict.”
“To make meetings less boring, leaders must look for legitimate reasons to provoke and uncover relevant, constructive ideological conflict.”
“Meetings are ineffective because they lack contextual structure.”
“To make our meetings more effective, we need to have multiple types of meetings, and clearly distinguish between the various purposes, formats, and timing of those meetings.”
“The key to injecting drama into a meeting lies in setting up the plot from the outset. Participants need to be jolted a little during the first ten minutes of a meeting, so that they understand and appreciate what is at stake.”
“Ironically, most leaders of meetings go out of their way to eliminate or minimize drama and avoid the healthy conflict that results from it. Which only drains the interest of employees.”
“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.”
“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 meeting, like a bad stew with too many random ingredients.”
“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 forty-eight hours prior to the meeting.”
“During the Weekly Tactical, there are 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.”
“While it is true that much of the time we currently spend in meetings is largely wasted, the solution is not to stop having meetings, but rather to make them better. Because when properly utilized, meetings are actually time savers.”
“Bad meetings, and what they indicate and provoke in an organization, generate real human suffering in the form of anger, lethargy, and cynicism. And while this certainly has a profound impact on organizational life, it also impacts people’s self-esteem, their families, and their outlook on life.”
“Improving meetings is not just an opportunity to enhance the performance of our companies. It is also a way to positively impact the lives of our people.”