Has anyone read this — Death by Meeting – Lencioni? A former colleage told me about and it seemed like something I needed to read, but then I lost track of it.

I drove to school this morning with my stomach in knots. The prospect of another meeting. We just came off of a week of meetings – most of them negative, unstructured to the point of chaos, and data-driven. We were either looking at data (disciplinary stats, test scores, attendance) or we were being asked to provide data. Apparently, if we look at little boxes long enough and fill in more, all will be well.

For a time, I was in charge of running meetings. I don’t want to say I was good at it, but I worked at it and kept working. Since I hate having my time wasted, I hated the prospect of wasting other people’s time. I studied books about how to organize and run meetings, had my agendas prepared and distributed in advance, made sure the purpose of each topic was clear, etc.. Again, I am not staking any claim to greatness – just suggesting a few things I tried to do.

I also remembered the first advice I ever got when I was preparing to take my first leadership position. My predecessor said, “Know when to cancel a meeting.” That has proven to be great advice.

We all have them – in the teaching world and elsewhere. Teachers are constantly (and, for the most part, rightly) complaining that we do not have enough time to meet with each other. But I am willing to bet that very few of us have walked out of a meeting and thought it was important and productive. We’ve all seen the meme about another meeting that could have been an email. There’s that issue. But let’s presume there are real issues at stake – how, for example, can we improve student attendance? How should that meeting go?

As for this morning, the expected leader was not present. There was a familiar lack of clarity. Technology was not ready. The proposed use of time was silly. (I’m not calling parents at 7:30 am.) Know when to cancel a meeting.