Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable...about Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business

Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable...about Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business

by Patrick M. Lencioni


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Casey McDaniel had never been so nervous in his life.

In just ten minutes, The Meeting, as it would forever be known, would begin.  Casey had every reason to believe that his performance over the next two hours would determine the fate of his career, his financial future, and the company he had built from scratch.

“How could my life have unraveled so quickly?” he wondered.

In his latest page-turning work of business fiction, best-selling author Patrick Lencioni provides readers with another powerful and thought-provoking book, this one centered around a cure for the most painful yet underestimated problem of modern business: bad meetings.  And what he suggests is both simple and revolutionary.

Casey McDaniel, the founder and CEO of Yip Software, is in the midst of a problem he created, but one he doesn’t know how to solve.  And he doesn’t know where or who to turn to for advice.  His staff can’t help him; they’re as dumbfounded as he is by their tortuous meetings.

Then an unlikely advisor, Will Peterson, enters Casey’s world.  When he proposes an unconventional, even radical, approach to solving the meeting problem, Casey is just desperate enough to listen.

As in his other books, Lencioni provides a framework for his groundbreaking model, and makes it applicable to the real world.  Death by Meeting is nothing short of a blueprint for leaders who want to eliminate waste and frustration among their teams, and create environments of engagement and passion.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780787968052
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 03/01/2004
Series: J-B Lencioni Series , #15
Pages: 270
Sales rank: 64,013
Product dimensions: 8.28(w) x 5.82(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Patrick Lencioni is president of The Table Group, a San Francisco Bay Area management consulting firm, and the author of several best-selling books. In addition to his work as an executive coach and consultant, Pat is a sought-after speaker. Prior to founding The Table Group, he worked at the management consulting firm Bain & Company, Oracle Corporation, and Sybase, where he was vice president of organizational development.
Pat lives with his wife, Laura, and their boys, Matthew, Connor, and Casey, in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can reach him at The Table Group’s web site,, or at

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Table of Contents

Introduction vii

The Fable 1

Preview 3

Part One: Flashback 5

Part Two: Plot Point 19

Part Three: Protagonist 53

Part Four: Action 69

Part Five: Resolution 173

The Model 219

The Paradox of Meetings 221

Executive Summary 223

Problem #1: Lack of Drama 226

Problem #2: Lack of Contextual Structure 233

The Biggest Challenge of All: “The Myth of Too Many Meetings” 250

A Final Thought on Meetings 253

The Weekly Tactical Meeting Guide 254

Acknowledgments 255

About the Author 259

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Finally, a real solution to an age old problem. Meetings may never be the same."
—Kris Hagerman, executive vice president, Strategic Operations, VERITAS Software Corporation

"Death By Meeting is about much more than meetings; it's about an entire management philosophy. I read a lot of books on management, and Lencioni's are among the very best. They form the basis for our approach at Silicon Valley Bank."
—Ken Wilcox, CEO, Silicon Valley Bank

"Lencioni has done it again! Insightful. Practical. Ready-to-implement solutions. If you lead people, you can’t afford to miss this book. It’s an absolute must-read."
—Jim Mellado, president, Willow Creek Association

"We've put Pat's theories into practice and they work.  Our meetings are more productive, our communication is clearer, and the team’s commitment to decisions is much greater."
—Curt Nonomaque, president and CEO, VHA Inc.

"Meetings are such a cr itical element of effective organizational communication.  Lencioni has provided a concise, entertaining, and inventive guide to improving meeting structure, participation, and results.  Thumbs up for this insightful tale."
—Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of operations, Major League Baseball

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Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
OPsteve More than 1 year ago
What makes a meeting bad? Through the first half of Death by Meeting the reader will most certainly figure this out on his own and yet Lencioni will take another thirty pages to explain it to him. The character named Will is the most interesting part of the entire novel. His genuine concern for the company allows the reader to connect with him, while his ingenuity in problem solving awes the reader. He rarely disappoints in his quest to save Casey's business; however, the consulting of his "business guru" mother weakens the character and wonders the reader into asking "why?" While this book was not exactly a page turner, it was extremely helpful in providing an example to follow and build upon. He is correct in his assertion that a meeting must be dramatic and structured. However, this is true for most organized events such as a class. When a teacher just lectures the entire class and does not allow for input or opposing views then a student might as well just read the book and skip class. Lencioni took about 250 pages to relay this message. If you have not figured this out on your own yet, then Death by Meeting is perfect for you. If you have, then I recommend a more compelling book, possibly on how not to waste your money on pointless prose.
brandonu More than 1 year ago
Though the book could have just been the last few chapters, it very interesting and exciting story made it a fun and quick read. The author added a fictional story to explain why each idea this book is important and how each meeting idea works in a real life sitution. It really hit a number of angles both for the skeptics and easily persuaded. Anyone has sat through a painful meeting would benefit from this book and even more if a copy of left for meeting leaders.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Continuing the current hot trend of couching business counsel in fables, author Patrick Lencioni takes on the ogre of the deadly dull meeting and through story and advice, wrestles it to the ground. The book is in large part about boring meetings and the author manages to reproduce their tone exactly. The protagonists are the boss, Casey, and an employee named Will who eventually loses his temper in the face of one more stifling, useless meeting. The author plants lessons about meetings throughout the story, revealed by the characters' experiences. However, after the fable comes an undiluted section of advice: about 40 pages of straightforward, expository prose about how to have more effective, engaging meetings. If you want useful workday advice and prefer to save fairytales ¿ even those with built-in lessons ¿ for bedtime, start there. We welcome this solid guidance on how to make meetings work better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lencioni's best yet. This work of business fiction provides an easily read lesson on how to deal with time wasting meetings. Organizations that learn from this story will immediately become more productive. Every organizational leader should read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this author and book - referred to me by a co-worker - to be a totally worthwhile read. Fun to read - in a business book?! - but more importantly really helpful to me as a manager. I have since bought it for others in my group.
Guest More than 1 year ago
All of Pat's books have been a pleasure to read. However Death By Meeting had a significant impacton my organization within 24 hours. Pat lays out a easy way to make all those dreaded meetings fun and productive...quickly. We have ordered over 20 books to date and have been giving them out like candy to our staff and our customers.
Anonymous 8 months ago
lorin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bad meetings can be brutal. Lencioni has some ideas on how to make them better.
gkwells on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great Book - really fresh concepts on how to bring your meeting alive and create an atmosphere people are anxious to come to - in fact one they don't want to miss. Mr. Lencioni has some very fresh ideas on an oft ignored topic that plagues us all almost everday...
bsanner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A masterly crafted story, Death by Meeting challenges leaders to make meetings matter ¿ to release the drama, tension, and debate that are innate in most workplace discussions, and yet subdued by pretense, office politics, and lack of unifying purpose. Lencioni calls teams to commit to the dramatization and contextualization of meetings. First, let discussion stir passion. Mine for conflict. Embrace disagreement. Secondly, one must understand the division of labor among meetings. Lencioni highlights four unique types of meetings: the daily check-in, the weekly tactical, the monthly strategic, and the quarterly off-site. Each meeting is focused, purposeful, and deliberate. Lencioni is clear and compelling. A
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This strategy for meetings has the potential to revolutionize your organization. It's so simple anyone can understand and implement it. The story format makes it particularly easy to envision how it might look where you're at.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I fell asleep during the first parts of this book that I had to skip to the end.  I tried my hardest not to.  I tried to follow along to get the 'point' but he took way too long to get to the point. This book was not for me.  It didn't give practical detailed suggestions that I was looking for.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This brings out all the items team members think but dont say. Easy read, good easy aways to make simple change.
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