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Book Summary – Death By Meeting: A Leadership Fable About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business

Death by Meeting - Book summary

Meetings are an essential part of our work. Great meetings help people to pool resources and knowledge to solve problems and make sound decisions. However, bad meetings are painful, a waste of time and resources, and lead to bad decisions. In “Death by Meeting”, Patrick Lencioni offers a simple, practical solution to make your meetings more effective and enjoyable. In this free Death by Meeting summary, we’ll briefly explain the model of effective meetings presented in the book. Feel free to get a more detailed outline of the story and tips with our complete summary bundle in text, graphic and audio formats!

What is Patrick Lencioni’s “Death by Meeting” fable about?

Meetings are critical to our work. Yet, we often dread meetings because they tend to be draggy and useless. Luckily, boring and ineffective meetings can be remedied. In his book “Death by Meeting,” Patrick Lencioni talks about the tell-tale signs of bad meetings and how to improve them. He uses a leadership fable to illustrate the dynamics behind meetings, and how they can affect organizational outcomes.

The parable is about Casey McDaniel, the CEO of a sports video game company, Yip Software. As the story progresses, we learn that the company isn’t reaching its full potential because its employees aren’t driven to achieve better results. And, Casey’s executive meetings are one of the reasons behind the employees’ lack of motivation. The meetings are held regularly, lack structure, and too much time is wasted on small talk or trivial issues.

Things change when Yip Software is acquired by a big video game company, forcing Casey to make his executive meetings more productive. Through Casey’s experience, we learn several lessons on how to make meetings more engaging and efficient.

Let’s dive into some of these insights in this Death by Meeting book summary!

Patrick Lencioni’s Solution for Effective Meetings

According to Patrick Lencioni, there are there are 2 key problems with meetings: they are boring, and they are ineffective. You can get more details about these 2 challenges in our full version of our Death by Meeting summary.

Meanwhile, let’s dive right into the solution, with the Model for Effective Meetings presented in the book:

Death by Meeting summary - effective meetings model
In a nutshell:

• We can inject drama and conflict to make meetings more interesting and engaging, by using a hook and mining for conflict. In the full 11-page version of our Death by Meeting summary, we’ll explain the 10-minute hook and how to constructively draw out conflict and different points of view.

• Most teams have just 1 type of meeting where everyone discusses everything. To create contextual structure, we should have 4 types of meetings, each with a different focus, duration and structure to address different objectives. Here are the 4 meetings at a glance:

  • Daily Check-ins (5-10min)
  • Weekly Tacticals (45-90 mins)
  • Monthly/Ad-hoc Strategic (2-4hrs)
  • Quarterly Off-site Review (1-2 days).

Death by Meeting summary_4 types of meetings
In our full Death by Meeting summary, you’ll learn how exactly to get the get most from each of these meetings!

Getting More from “Death by Meeting”

If you’re ready to start transforming your meetings into powerful, effective tools that drive performance, do do check out our full book summary bundle that includes an infographic, 11-page text summary, and a 21-minute audio summary!Death By Meeting summary - book summary bundle

This is an extremely easy-to-read book, with practical tips that are reinforced both in the fable and in an executive summary at the end of the book. The fable illustrates many common scenarios, frustrations and concerns with meetings at the workplace, and how the tips above can be applied. You can purchase the book here, or visit  for more details and resources.

If you love Patrick Lencioni’s books, then you’ll also enjoy the following summaries: Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team summaryThe Ideal Team Player summary, and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive summary.

About the Author of Death By Meeting

Death By Meeting: A Leadership Fable About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business was written by Patrick Lencioni–an American author and consultant, best known for his works in business and team management. Patrick Lencioni is the president of The Table Group, a management consulting firm specializing in executive team development and organizational health. Previously, he worked at the management consulting firm Bain & Company, Oracle Corporation, and Sybase, where he was VP of Organization Development.

Death By Meeting Quotes

“There is simply no substitute for a good meeting—a dynamic, passionate, and focused engagement—when it comes to extracting the collective wisdom of a team.”

“Bad meetings at the executive level usually indicated a huge gap between performance and potential.”

“The only thing more painful than confronting an uncomfortable topic is pretending it doesn’t exist.”

“There is nothing inherently about meetings that makes them bad, so it is entirely possible to transform them into compelling, productive, and fun activities.”

“The hard truth is, bad meetings almost always lead to bad decisions, which is the best recipe for mediocrity.”


Click here to download Death by Meeting book summary and infographic

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