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Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable...About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business Hardcover – March 4, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (March 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787968056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787968052
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (235 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The business meeting—a necessary evil or a vital and invigorating component of running an organization? According to management consultant Lencioni (The Five Temptations of a CEO), meetings should fit the latter description, but more often than not, he says, they don't. In this lackluster audio fable, Lencioni offers practical advice on how to revitalize your business by energizing your business meetings, but his pallid, passive prose would challenge the most skilled narrator, and Arthur is no exception. The voice Arthur lends Will, the young hero of this tale, resembles that of Sesame Street's Ernie on downers, and the various inflections he gives business owner Casey McDaniel and his management team don't make up for the characters' lack of character. Nevertheless, Lencioni's message comes across loud and clear—meetings should be interactive, not passive, and they should be structured (i.e., issues of immediate importance should be discussed in "weekly tactical" meetings, and issues that will fundamentally affect the business should be addressed in "monthly strategic" meetings). Although managers will find this advice worthwhile, they would gather just as much if they skipped the sluggish fable and listened to the last few tracks.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


“…a work of fiction with important messages formanagement” (Leadership & Organisational DevelopmentJournal)

“The author is something of a master of the modernfable….” (Professional Manager, Vol.13, No.6,November 2004)

“…pitches his theory neatly at busy readers byopening with an executive summary.” (SupplyManagement, 8 July 2004)

"Highly recommended: you could even take it to your nextmeeting." (On Target, September 2007)

Customer Reviews

Very easy read.
Patrick Lencioni's book is an engaging leadership fable that defines what makes meetings engaging.
Kristin J. Arnold
This was the best management book I have ever read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Manny Hernandez HALL OF FAME on May 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
His previous book, "Five Disfunctions..." is by far the best work Lencioni has written to date, so "Death By Meeting" had quite a challenge to match when it came out. Although it falls a little short, still it accomplishes a task that cannot be diminished: it shows executives (and managers at large, I'd argue) how to make meetings more effective for once, and (are you ready for this?) he advocates for more, not less, meetings, in order to enhance the performance of companies and positively impact the lives of those who work in them.
The book, like his previous ones, is cleverly structured in two large parts: The Fable and The Model. The first part lays out a sort of novel, where the characters could pretty much be you and me, taking part in management meetings in our own companies, and tells the story of how implementing his methodology (brought about by a "consultant in disguise", impersonated by the CEO's personal assistant) helped put the company's steering team out of its meeting "misery", by turning their meetings into a satisfactory and productive experience that they started looking forward to from then on.
The second part summarizes the methodology presented in The Fable, in a more general context, by introducing the four types of meeting he advocates:
-Daily Check-In
-Weekly Tactical
-Monthly Strategic (or Ad Hoc Strategic)
-Quarterly Off-site Review
Even if you think you are effective at managing your meetings, I highly recommend that you give "Death By Meeting" a read. It won't take more than 2 hours of your time, and it will provide you and your team with benefits to reap for life. Disregard at your own managerial risk!
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By david sparrow on May 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you dwell in the all too common world of unproductive meetings -- which I'd hazard to guess is at least a 50/50 chance -- this book is well worth a look. Consistent with his "business fable" style, Lencioni makes "Death by Meeting" a quick read with some easy to grasp but powerful principles as the payoff.
How many time's have you heard the term, "I can't get anything done because I'm always in meetings." Sounds logical right? Not so, says Lencioni. He precedes to show us through his fable that what's needed is a paradigm shift on how we think about meetings. Meetings aren't problems, they are opporturnities. Meetings don't have to be a death walk, they can inspire, challenge, and bring problems out in the open to be wrestled to the ground and resolved.
In my view, the power of Lencioni's principles are in their simplicity. How many times have you waded through a business book and found yourself inspired only to forget half the of 20 "principles" and so called recipes for success. Lencioni's principles are simple enough that they are both easily grasped and memorable.
The challenge for readers of "Death by Meeting" teachings is that Lencioni provides little beyond the basic framework. He gives few suggestions for implementation, and does not warn of pitfalls or discuss the implications of company culture and barriers that might arise. His message is in affect, here's the framework -- now get to it.
That's a tough pill to swallow for readers who find very few similarities between the company and the leaders depicted in the story and their own situation. But I'd argue that this isn't a valid excuse to let the book gather dust on the shelf. Those who go forward boldly may soon find that they'll create their own fable with a happy ending.
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71 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Peter Lorenzi on July 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The title is provocative and will probably sell books. The parable of a software game firm in Monterey struggling with ineffective meetings makes for a reasonably readable, well-scripted (except for "our data is inconclusive." p. 184) and intriguing story. "Death" has the air of "Disclosure" without the sex, as Yip Software allows itself to be taken over (cashing in -- a decision that probably warrants more attention than do the other matters in the book) and then scrutinized by a bigger firm. There is a late twist in the seemingly diabolic machinations of the larger firm and the catalyst to the correction in team decision making is imbued with a needless obsessive-compulsive, Tourette-like malady that allows him to have a psychological excuse -- when he is off his meds - to speak up at the meetings.
The parable reads well enough and early on reminded me of John Cleese's marvelous training film, "Meetings, bloody meetings." The original video was so good when it was made almost thirty years ago that Video Arts updated it -- with almost the exact same script and several of the same actors-- ten years ago. "Death" is more current. But Cleese in both versions got it right, better, and funnier than Lencioni. He viewed team meetings as akin to a court proceeding or a trial. The analogy worked.
Effective meetings need critical thinking, not groupthink. The Senate report on the CIA is only the most recent example of no one taking a critical stance as partial information and unreliable data accumulate. But conflict does not seem to be the appropriate remedy for premature or inappropriate consensus. Lencioni is right: Real consensus is difficult if not impossible. But constructive critical thinking is better than conflict (or obsessives off their meds) to make a meeting effective and "interesting".
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More About the Author

Patrick Lencioni is founder and president of The Table Group, a firm dedicated to helping leaders improve their organizations' health since 1997. His principles have been embraced by leaders around the world and adopted by organizations of virtually every kind including multinational corporations, entrepreneurial ventures, professional sports teams, the military, nonprofits, schools, and churches.

Lencioni is the author of ten business books with over three million copies sold worldwide. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Bloomberg Businessweek, and USA Today.

Prior to founding The Table Group, Lencioni served on the executive team at Sybase, Inc. He started his career at Bain & Company and later worked at Oracle Corporation.

Lencioni lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and their four sons.

To learn more about Patrick and The Table Group, please visit