Book Review: Death By Meeting by Patrick Lencioni

October 23, 2009
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I’ve been trying to read more about effective work habits, including tips on running model reviews and meetings in general. So how could I pass up a title like “Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable… About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business” [(J-B Lencioni Series) (0723812499090): Patrick Lencioni: Books]?

This work, by author Patrick Lencioni, is indeed told as a fable. This story-telling approach worked for me, but I know some people would rather just get to the chase and spell out the meeting tips inside. Unlike Weinberg’s “Secrets of Consulting,” this book is not a series of parables, but a sort of case study for a fictional software company named Yip Software.

Yip is doing well, but company executives have a lack of passion, a lack of fever to strategically lead the company into a much needed growth phase. Our protagonist, an intern, is frustrated by the lack of progress in the company’s weekly two hour staff meeting, so he starts researching the film industry to find out what he can contribute. Throw in a bit of fierce company acquisition politics and a couple of contrarian meeting attendees and you have a story that most of us will recognize — meetings


I’ve been trying to read more about effective work habits, including tips on running model reviews and meetings in general. So how could I pass up a title like “Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable… About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business” [(J-B Lencioni Series) (0723812499090): Patrick Lencioni: Books]?

This work, by author Patrick Lencioni, is indeed told as a fable. This story-telling approach worked for me, but I know some people would rather just get to the chase and spell out the meeting tips inside. Unlike Weinberg’s “Secrets of Consulting,” this book is not a series of parables, but a sort of case study for a fictional software company named Yip Software.

Yip is doing well, but company executives have a lack of passion, a lack of fever to strategically lead the company into a much needed growth phase. Our protagonist, an intern, is frustrated by the lack of progress in the company’s weekly two hour staff meeting, so he starts researching the film industry to find out what he can contribute. Throw in a bit of fierce company acquisition politics and a couple of contrarian meeting attendees and you have a story that most of us will recognize — meetings can be painful, long, and demoralizing.

The meeting model proposed will go against conventional wisdom:

  • Conflict can be good in a meeting
  • Meeting leaders need to encourage conflict… and drama in meetings
  • Not all meetings should have a set time to end

There are more included in this great fable. Again, the story helped add suspense and drama to this work, but some readers may not be as happy to spend time on back story. However, I felt that the recommendations in the meeting model to be very valuable: they are the usual meeting tips.

Recommended to everyone who has experienced “death by meeting”.