Sunday, August 24, 2014

Death By Meeting

Author - Patrick Lencioni

Genre - Business

Source - Audiobook

Rating - 3 (High-3)

August 2014

Good. Not as good as the previous 'Five Dysfunctions...', and a little tedious at times - but the lessons are accurate and helpful. Was required to write a summary of this for office - am printing it below:


1. Some meetings are bad. Why?
a. Some meetings are bad because they lack proper context. They become a mélange of varying types of discussions with a wide-range of importance to the organization (with most being not-very-much).

2. Conflicts are a good thing.
a. This is true for every intelligent, intellectual pursuit. The only way that improvements can be brought about are by challenging the norm, challenging the status quo. Meetings, as in Yip, were bad because executives in the organization, while well-meaning, refused to indulge in healthy debate; thus what suffered was shared perspective, and thereby growth.
b. What to debate about? What should be the topics of conflict? This is probably an issue that the book did not tackle head-first. In my opinion, and I have seen it happen, it is possible for a state of debate-for-debate’s-sake to emerge, which leadership should be wary of. Conflict is welcome, it is GREAT, but is it the right conflict? Is the conflict well-meaning / purposeful? I have once been part of an organization which actively promoted debate (i.e. senior management favoured / promoted people who were seen as the alternative / contrarian voices), but knowing that debate is encouraged but not wanting to go the debate = conflict route, this led to heavy debate about less-important issues, and lip-service debates about the more important issues. A state of hyperactive inertia is still a state of inertia. Probably something that the book could have dealt a little more in depth about.

3. Grab the attention. Early.
a. This, I think, is a great lesson. It is ideal to bring the most important items to the table well and early. That is when the participants are eager, and creative. Also, I think an underlying point Lencioni wanted to make is that there is enough time to retrieve a situation, if the context is set early.

4. There is no one-size-fit-all meeting – and all different type of meetings have their purpose
a. Lencioni suggested the following:
  • Daily Check-In: Share daily schedules and activities - don't sit down, keep it administrative, don't cancel even when some can't attend
  • Weekly Tactical: Review weekly activities & metrics & resolve tactical obstacles & issues - don't set agenda until after initial reporting, postpone (park) strategic discussions.
  •  Monthly Strategic (or Ad Hoc as required): Discuss, analyze, brainstorm, & decide on critical issues affecting LT success - limit to 1-2 topics, prepare & do research ahead of time, engage in constructive conflict.
  • Quarterly Off-site Review: Review strategy, industry trends, competitive landscape, key personnel, team development - away from office, focus on work & limit social activities, don't over-plan or overburden the schedule.
b. I do believe there could be more / less as the company requires. There is no one-size fit-all company either. But the point is very well taken. Not all conflicts is the same. Not all requirement is the same. Not all meetings are the same.
c. Some similarities with Scrum methodology of software development could be noticed – however, I am not an expert in Scrum (far from it: I attended a 2-hour introduction to scrum, a couple of years ago). But some ideas are similar, for example- Daily checkpoint; extensive conversation (and conflict, not spelled out in detail) etc.