Wednesday, July 8, 2009

(58) Death By Meeting by Patrick Lencioni

Right before I went on vacation I had a meeting with my District Manager to help get a better grasp on my future with the company. I love books. And I am extremely competitive. Those two qualities (among others) is what makes me a good manager.

But I want to be a GREAT manager. No, I want to be a GREAT Store Manager. So when the Boss Man suggested that I read Death By Meeting , I thought "No Problem! It is sitting on my shelf as we speak!".

So after giving up on Beginners Greek, I pulled it off the shelf & read it in about two hours give or take. Now, I know that most of you really could care less about Business Management type of books, but this particular book does not have to relate specifically to business people. Anyone who has to lead a meeting, from the PTA meeting to The Lady's Guild at your church would benefit from reading this book.

But before you groan & roll your eyes, Patrick Lencioni has a way with words. He does not write boring business manuals, but he writes fables. Leadership Fables. They are simply written. Without an excessive amount of detail or painful explanations, Lencioni tells us about Casey McDaniel and the software company he started in Monterey, California. His golf game was a hit with gamers everywhere and now he has sold his company. An executive from their new parent company has sat in on a couple of their executive meetings and his reactions have Casey believing that his job is on the line.

At the same time of the merge, Will has come to the company as a temporary admin assistant for Casey. Casey is friends with Will's family and their history leads them to have a more comfortable relationship than the average exec & their assistant. Bottom line. Will sees that Casey's job is on the line, because frankly, the meetings are boring and nothing ever gets resolved. Which is exactly what the parent company exec saw with every meeting he sat in on.

This caught my eye about what the rest of the staff thinks about the weekly meetings. Because I suspect this is hour our staff views our staff meetings:

"They are wondering about your, about our, competence. They just don't understand how we can come in here for two hours every week and emerge without clearer direction for them."
There are many times when we leave our weekly meetings at work where I feel as if nothing has been resolved and our booksellers know that. I suspect it affects our staff's morale more than we think.

So in his OCD way, Will is determined to help save Casey's job. He starts analyzing meetings everywhere. And what makes them boring. How to jazz them up & how to increase the productivity in the meetings. Lencioni does a great job of making the comparisons between movies & meetings. And how the one thing that makes a movie interesting, conflict, was lacking from the weekly meetings at Casey's company.

Okay, I have rambled on long enough. I will cut to the chase. Communication, structure, and fear of conflict is what will save your company Death By Meeting. The book gives a structured outline for leading meetings. The outline includes, among other things, a "lightning round" and cascading messages.

Please don't let the thought of reading a business book scare you away from actually reading this book. If you find yourself sitting through weekly meetings wishing you could poke your eye out with a pencil, you will learn great things from this book.


Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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