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Death by Meeting

I wish this was my conference room

Before Christmas I interviewed for a new job. The role for which I was interviewing had more responsibility and would require me to flex a bit more leadership muscle. At that time, I began to ask for recommendations from people who read books on leadership. I was not able to finish the first one I started because it was largely based on political examples from the 1980s. While I am sure the concepts are still relevant, the context made it difficult for me to digest.

Death By Meeting was the next one I tried. This is actually a fiction book that describes itself as a leadership "fable," which is designed to show you the ways that meetings can go wrong and how to better handle them. A lot of the book goes through best practices on structuring meetings and the purposes and values of different types and lengths of meetings.

Like dominoes falling, a series of events occurred after my interview in December that resulted in me eventually accepting the role of area supervisor, which was not the original position for which I interviewed. As area supervisor, I will be conducting monthly meetings with the team. However, the structure suggested in this book will not be possible for me to implement due to the schedule and locations of the virtual staff members. Even though I will not be able to execute meetings as outlined in the book, I still believe there are some good takeaways to remember in order to make meetings tolerable and productive. For those interested, the author suggests having a five minute standing (literally) check-in style meeting at the beginning of each work day. After that, he suggests weekly tactical meetings that have no agenda and last no more than 45 minutes, monthly strategic meetings where only 2 major topics are hashed out in detail for a maximum of about 2 hours, and quarterly off-site meetings that last for longer periods of time and get into greater detail.

For a book with the title Death by Meeting, you may assume he would advocate for fewer or shorter meetings. Instead, he advocates for more productive and focused meetings that result in fewer emails after the fact (that can and usually are misinterpreted). Good meetings will also cut down on what he calls "sneaker time," which is required in order to walk around and talk to everyone individually later about something that wasn't covered sufficiently in the meeting.

Conducting my staff meeting next Friday will be a new experience for me at the office, but I have facilitated meetings in the past when I was leader of Harvest of Talents. Perhaps I should have read this book prior to that!

In case anyone is keeping track:
-I got this book from the Jackson Library at Indiana Wesleyan University
-This book was recommended to me

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