There are many books that are not at all about lean, but the lessons they contain are very helpful to a lean journey. Here’s one such example:
Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni
While the creativity and storytelling in most business novels is generally an insult to the word ‘novel,’ Patrick Lencioni’s work in Death by Meeting provides a very pleasant surprise. It is easy to read and you sense the emotions and issues that real people deal with every day. The heart of this book focuses on turning the dragging, lifeless and even painful experience of “the business meeting” into a dynamic essential element of the nervous system of any company.
The first premise of Death by Meeting is the conflict is not to be avoiding in meetings but encouraged. Different than personal conflict, idea and position conflict is what is needed to make tough decisions and take the company forward. The second major premise is that we can not have multipurpose meetings. We should have some meetings for information and others for decision making, each with a different style and cadence. Lencioni specifically suggests four types of meetings. The 5-minute Daily Check-in, the 45-90 minute Weekly Tactical, the 2-4 hour Monthly or Ad Hoc Strategy and the 1-2 day Quarterly Off-site Review.
Few if any proposed meeting structures come closer to what you would expect to see in a truly lean company. A lean company has (a) tremendous focus on the task at hand, (b) a disdain for waste such as that demonstrated when meetings lack purpose and structure and (c) a respect for the benefit of structure and standardization, such as proposed by the rhythm these meetings have. We highly suggest taking a look at this book, and then a more serious look at your own meeting structure.
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