I always get mixed emotions when someone tells me that they read my latest post. I am excited that someone is actually reading my stuff. I also feel anxious as I wonder whether the reader liked what I wrote. If they complimented the post, were they just being nice?
I had one of those moments right before the holidays. One of my teammates gave me the book, “Death by Meeting” by Patrick Lencioni, as a present. Obviously, he had read my latest post, “Are you in meeting hell?”.
“Death By Meeting” is developed as a parable for leaders. The parable focuses on an effective strategy utilizing four types of meetings to make the most out of a leadership team’s time together.
The strategy consists of four types of meetings:
- Daily Checkin – In the Agile world this is the Scrum daily stand up. The author defines this meeting to be a 5 minute meeting, with all teammates reporting on their activities. I have modified this to follow the Scrum protocol by asking three questions: What did you do yesterday? What are you going to do today? What are your impediments?
- Weekly Tactical – This is typically seen as the traditional weekly staff meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to allow the team to address immediate concerns about tactical issues. The meeting should be disciplined and structured in nature. Invariably, strategic issue are identified or questioned in these meetings. The team should focus on tactical issues, and put the strategic on the backlog for the Monthly Strategic meetings.
- Monthly Strategic – This is the one that most people enjoy. The purpose of this meeting is to spend time talking about strategic topics, with approximately 2 hours allocated per topic. These meetings have to occur regularly to address the backlog of strategic issues that are often raised in the Weekly Tactical meetings. In addition, ad hoc strategic meetings may be called for issues that can’t wait until the regularly scheduled Monthly Strategic meetings.
- Quarterly Off-Site Review – This meeting is where executives get away from the office so that they can review the overall business direction, while taking a long term view. When mentioned, Off=Site meetings typically prompt thoughts of exotic locations where executives play golf, tennis and cavort in the surf. However, more cost effective locations, such as a conference room at a local hotel, are just as effective. Cell phones and laptops should not be used except for presentations.
Though 257 pages, the book seemed to be a quick read and engaging. The framework offered is simple to implement.
One challenge I’ve noticed is that it can be difficult to stick to the framework. In the course of the day-to-day struggles, executives often deviate from a framework, even though they know they shouldn’t. Their busy schedules and the lack of establishing priorities in their workload often get in the way.
Another challenge is for the executive to not just check the box. This framework, coupled with an Agile approach, can provide the platform an executive can use to increase his team’s effectiveness. As in all things Agile, it’s all about communication.
Get Death By Meeting and read it. It’s worth the time.
Thanks for coming in today.