A few weeks ago when I blogged about best practices for a traditional meeting, I did so understanding that many organizations are stuck in meeting quicksand, and if people are going to hold old fashioned meetings, we would all prefer that they are conducted as painlessly as possible. I also promised that I would present an alternative to the usual meeting pattern, one that increases communication and one that will empower the team, all the while allowing more efficient use of time – thus, increasing productivity! I know – this might sound like I just found a solution to world hunger, and you might doubt it, but read on and then let me know what you think.
I read a couple of books with interesting theories, one is “Death by Meeting” by Patrick Lencioni and one is “Stop the Meeting, I Want to Get Off!” by Scott Snair. I am discussing the “Death by Meeting” theory here and will discuss the other theory in the blog post below this article.
In “Death by Meeting”, Mr. Lencioni proposes that meetings should be more like television and blockbuster movies that draw large audiences and keep us all on the edge of our seats. The most entertaining phrase in the book was when he pointed out that the movie “When Harry Met Sally” went through ten years of the lives and relationships of two people in 97 minutes, but most organizations cannot get through a summary of what happened in the last week in two hours. This is a hilarious comparison, yet – is it funny because it is true?
He says CONFLICT (a key component to an interesting movie) is not brought into meetings, and thus no real decisions are ever made in a meeting and when the meeting is over, the group goes on their way wondering why they just spent the last two hours of their time in the room and with no clearer direction than when they entered. A leader holding a meeting is encouraged to study his group and decide if someone is holding out critical information in the name of avoiding conflict and attempt to draw it out. Once it is out, the leader should make a decision right there and once the decision is made, the ground rules would be that the group respects the decision.
In “Death by Meeting”, four different types of meetings were proposed, the first is a five minute daily meeting like Headline News (5 minutes). The second is a tactical weekly meeting, like a crime drama or a sitcom (30-60 minutes). Third, he proposed the full length feature film, a monthly Strategic meeting (2 hours or less). Lastly, the mini-series of meeting, the quarterly off-site which would serve many purposes including team building, and a simple separation from the workplace that might allow for a different perspective on future planning (6-8 hours).
Have you read this book? What do you think about the connection between meetings and movies? Do you agree with bringing some managed conflict into the meeting in order to speed a decision?