Release year: 2004

Author: Patrick Lencioni

Link to my handwritten notes

Buy this book (note: affiliate link)


This relatively short book is divided in two sections: a fable and a model. In the fable, we are told the story of Yip Software, a (fictitious) video game developer focused on golf simulations. They are at crossroads: looking to expand their brand, should they sell the company or not? How would a merger work? The more we dig in, the more we realize that much of the mediocrity in the organization takes root in the top management’s meetings. They are horribly managed and led. At first, they don’t seem like such a big issue: information is exchanged, things are getting “done.” But as more time passes, we start to realize that these lackluster meetings are slowly becoming an existential threat for the company.

Luckily for Yip Software, a brilliant intern joins the company and, with the CEO’s trust, takes it upon himself to fix the entire company’s culture around meetings within two weeks. And, wouldn’t you know it, he pulls it off, and everyone gets to celebrate (of course)! Thus, the fable is both a role-play and a sales pitch for the Meetings Model proposed by the author, four categories of meetings:

  • The Daily Check-in
  • The Weekly Tactical
  • The Monthly Strategic
  • The Quarterly Off-site Review
The four types of meetings, explained.

I enjoyed this read and I think it has value. It reminded me of the Phoenix Project in a way. However, my main gripe with it is that it did not make me feel empowered. I feel that in order to benefit most from the author’s proposed model, I would need top management’s buy-in to flip their meeting culture upside down. People would need to be trained to follow the model properly. It’s a slow process that simply feels out of reach for me right now.

Still, the fable and the model open a window on how “effective” meetings would work. I think that what I’ll keep from this book is how we know a meeting is being effective or not. For example, are we having different types of meetings at once, a typical sign of inefficiency? Are we mining for conflict, thus preventing the need to go back on established decisions? When such a diagnosis will be made, I might not be able to fix it myself, but at least I will now have a reputable source to point to.

Félix rating:

⭐ Star quotes:

  1. (p. 16) ⭐ The company’s culture comes to mirror its meetings.
  2. (p. 122) The leader of the group needs to be looking for places where people have different opinions but aren’t necessarily putting them out there. They need to be constantly mining for buried conflict.
  3. (p. 123) Consensus is a horrible thing to focus on because it is usually not achievable.
  4. (p. 123) Regardless of what position people originally took, once the decision is made, everyone supports it. That’s why it’s critical that no one hold anything back during the discussion.
  5. (p. 124) Mind for conflict, regardless of what the clock says.
  6. (p. 230) The only thing more painful than confronting an uncomfortable topic is pretending it doesn’t exist.
  7. (p. A leader can minimize the discomfort and maximize the likelihood that conflict will continue by interrupting the participants and reminding them that what they are doing is good.
  8. (p. 243) Putting too many items on the agenda only dilutes the quality of the debate around the most critical ones.
  9. (p. 254) Weekly Tactical Meeting Guide