Meetings are Toxic

One of my favorite book titles in my office is Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni.  In any business there are many meetings that could be done away with and productivity would actually increase.  I have often wondered what are the purpose of meetings.  Why do we continue to schedule meetings that don’t seem to serve a purpose?  How often have you left a meeting and wondered, “What did we accomplish?”  Could we have accomplished the same thing in fifteen minutes instead of two hours?

I am currently reading Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of 37signals, in which they have a section titled “Meetings are Toxic.”  They raise the argument that meetings are the worst interruptions.  Here are three of their best reasons:

  • They frequently have agendas so vague that nobody is really sure of the goal.
  • They often include at least one moron who inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense.
  • Meetings procreate.  One meeting leads to an other meeting leads to another.

They don’t rule out meetings altogether but they do offer some tips for making a meeting productive.

  • Set a timer.  When it rings, meeting’s over.  Period.
  • Invite as few people as possible.
  • Always have a clear agenda.
  • Begin with a specific problem.
  • Meet at the site of the problem instead of a conference room.  Point to real things and suggest real changes.
  • End with a solution and make someone responsible for implementing it.

I would definitely recommend picking up Rework.  As Seth Godin puts it, “Ignore this book at your own peril.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Find more about the book here.


About joelnewton

I am a husband to Hillary, a father to Anna and Norah

Posted on August 25, 2010, in Church Leadership and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Joel,
    This goes right along with the recommendations from Timothy Ferriss in his book, “The 4 Hour Work Week!”

    LOVE that book.

    He avoides meetings at all costs for the same reasons you mention in your post!

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