Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Read This Before Our Next Meeting Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
|New from||Used from|
|Audio CD, Audiobook, CD, Unabridged||
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
About the Author
Al Pittampalli is the founder of the Modern Meeting Company, which has helped organizations like NASA, IBM, Abbott Labs, and Kaiser Permanente hold more effective meetings. He is a former IT adviser at Ernst & Young LLP and lives in New York City. You can learn more about him at: modernmeetingstandard.com.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The reason I gave it a poor rating is because the author makes sweeping statements that simply aren't true, then builds the rest of his work on these false premises.
The statements the author makes which I think are incorrect include:
"Peter Drucker tells us that meetings are by definition a concession to deficient organization. We either meet or work. We can't do both at the same time." I disagree with both Drucker and the author--not one of these statements is correct.
"Like all human beings, we're terrified of making decisions." No, all human beings are not terrified of making decisions.
"But a brainstorm is not a meeting." Yes, it is. A special type of meeting.
"Like war, meetings are a last resort." Neither war nor meetings are a last resort. They are two tools with which we solve problems.
While meetings are indeed a disaster, the author's sweeping generalizations that fall short of reality tarnish the rest of his work.
I work in a College of Business and I often joke to myself "How many MBAs does it take to run an efficient meeting?" The correct answer is either "zero" or "more MBAs than we have on faculty now." I lean toward "zero." It's amazing to me that we don't incorporate a class on how to hold meetings into curriculum.
Pittampali's suggestions for creating the "Modern Meeting" are almost identical to my own when I ask myself what I would do differently if I ran things. My college violates just about every one of his tenets.
The author's Modern Meeting:
1. Supports a decision that has already been made.
2. Moves fast and ends on schedule.
3. Limits the number of attendees.
4. Rejects the unprepared.
5. Produces committed action plans.
6. Refuses to be informational. Reading memos is mandatory.
7. Works alongside a culture of brainstorming.
"The Modern Meeting focuses on the only two activities worth convening for: conflict and coordination" (l. 286). In other words, the Boss should have already made a decision and informed everyone of it long before, meeting with people individually if necessary. The meeting simply exists to implement the decision and openly resolve any conflicts about it. Concrete tasks will be assigned through the meeting:
"If you don't receive an action plan from the meeting I invited you to attend, you have every right not to attend my next one" (l. 375).
Numbers 3, 4, and 6 above are crucial for me. 90% of our meeting time is listening to someone give a report that is purely informational and could have been written in some bullet points emailed out earlier. This is unproductive and inefficient, wasting everyone's time.
But no one wants to read memos before a meeting, just like students who never read textbooks before coming to class. Just like Sunday school Christians usually never read their lessons or study the text before Sunday or study about what their pastor is preaching on. We come wanting to be entertained, wanting new information. But that is not the job of the meeting, the job of the meeting is decision and action.
But, we're a College of Business, we should be better. We demand our students be prepared, and so should we. "This is not high school; we strive to be a world-class organization. We can't tolerate your unpreparedness anymore. Unprepared participants are dead weight" (l. 365). Save the learning for your own time, a meeting is not a seminar.
I recommend reading the book in your spare time, won't take you any longer than a long-form journal article. Then give it to someone who you wish would run meetings better...
The title, the blurb and the promise of the book is enticing. We all could dramatically eliminate the number of meetings we have, but for me this book falls short of that promise - at least in terms of providing a realistic way for replacing the current meeting framework at most companies and organizations.
The ideas are okay and some will come off as extreme to some readers. They did to me. Here are the 7 Principles of the Modern Meeting Standard
1. Meet only to support a decision that has already been made.
2. Move fast. End on schedule.
3. Limit the number of attendees.
4. Reject the unprepared.
5. Produce committed action plans.
6. Refuse to be informational. Read the memo, it's mandatory.
7. Work with brainstorms, not against them.
The premise of the book is centered on two truths that will have you smirking and nodding your head:
1. We have too many meetings.
2. We have too many bad meetings.
If we cut to the recommendation, Pittampalli is recommending that we radically rethink what a meeting is and instead of status and informational updates, meetings will be to share decisions that have already been made and to create action plans. These two points are great in theory, but I think the execution and practicality falls flat.
I love putting the onus on the meeting organizer to be the decision-maker, the true leader of their projects. We all want increased decision-making power in our organizations. With too much on our plates, it makes sense to push down decision-making to the front lines.
However, think about this for a moment - decisions now will be made before the meeting. How does one go about gathering the data and information that normally would come from meeting attendees, the experts in their functional areas of expertise?
If input is needed, the meeting organizer will need to get that input before the meeting....in a one-on-one meeting/conversation. I wonder what happens if you have a large decision to be made with multiple people and functional areas involved. Do you have 7 half hour long discussions? To me this is not practical. If it's practical to you, buy the book.
The Modern Meeting refuses to be informational. Reading memos is now mandatory according to Pittampalli. "In order to keep modern meetings strictly in support of decisions, informational meetings are cancelled. For this to be possible, managers will write memos instead, but everyone must commit to reading them. In a culture of reading, informational meetings are no longer necessary."
Nice idea. Practicality level? Low to 'not going to happen' on my scale. In a world where employees are already overwhelmed with email and doing more work (read two or three jobs) than in the past, who's going to have time to read more memos on topics? If you raised your hand, then great, this book and its methods are for you.
I'm not banking on the ability of everyone in the organization to provide 'to the point' memos that give me the right balance of information and next steps I need to get my head around key topics.
Two more points that had me shaking my head:
- Eliminate status meetings altogether by using BaseCamp or other technology tools.
- Communicate bad news via a recorded video that you send out or hold office hours if people want to talk to you.
The first idea sounds pretty cool - no more Monday morning status meetings with your boss. I still think that status meetings if done right are a great way to bond with team members, keep up on what's going on in the organization and get a feel for the next leaders in your organization.
As for communicating bad news via a recorded message, seriously? I think that goes against HR 101, but if that's the kind of hands-off and hiding behind technology company you want to be part of, go for it.
The book is not all bad. I love the intent and the inspirational aspect of it. One idea in particular is something I'm going to implement immediately: No Meeting Minutes, only Action Plans.
There are no minutes coming out of the Modern Meeting, only Action Plans. This is a great idea as it focuses on 3 main components that are critical to moving things forward in an organization:
- What actions are committing to?
- Who is responsible for each action?
- When will those actions be completed?
This book is a pass for me, but it might work for you.