This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Death By Meeting" by Patrick M. Lencioni. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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In Patrick Lencioni’s book, Death by Meeting, how did Yip CEO Casey go from a PGA golfer to making videogames? What factors halted Yip’s potential growth?
Patrick Lencioni’s book Death by Meeting is a business parable about a CEO named Casey who doesn’t know how to lead a productive team meeting. Casey gave up his golf career after a case of the yips and decided to turn his passion for golf into a videogame.
Continue reading to learn more about how Casey started Yip Software in the Death by Meeting book.
Death by Meeting Parable: Casey’s Backstory
Patrick Lencioni’s book Death by Meeting is a parable about how important running a good work meting is. The parable starts with the background of the main character, Casey.
Casey has a lovely wife and kids, he’s a good neighbor, and he’s a regular churchgoer. He’s an easy person to respect, and his employees like him as a person—they just don’t like him as a boss.
Casey grew up caddying and playing at a golf course near his home in Monterey, California. He loved the game, and he went to college on a golf scholarship, where he continued to excel at golf. He also studied engineering and computer science.
A Case of the Yips
After college, he continued pursuing his dream to make the PGA tour, earning money playing pro golf. But, as he was finally starting to break through in big tournaments, he got the yips—everything was fine with him physically, but psychologically, he stopped being able to put.
His dreams of a pro golf career over, Casey went home to Monterey and married, bought a small house with his savings, and decided to play to his strengths and launch a realistic golf video game. This combined his interest in computer science with his interest in golfing. He named his company Yip Software.
After two years of work on his first game with two programmers, Yip released it. Because Casey knew so much about the sport, they were able to launch a realistic game, and golfers loved it. One of Casey’s friends on the PGA tour mentioned that Yip had helped his golf game in a press conference after he won a tournament. This made Yip relevant and led the company to sustained commercial success.
Casey hired 12 employees and opened an office, and he continued to expand in the years following. By the time the company turned 10, Yip had eight games on the market involving different sports, all with the same exactitude that made the first one a success. He also had 200 employees. While Yip was growing, Casey and his wife Patricia had four kids.
Unfortunately, despite all of this apparent success, it was clear to anyone who watched closely that Yip could have been twice as successful if it had a better CEO. Casey was good at spotting what customers wanted and had a clear understanding of the market. However, he didn’t care that much about winning big—he was happy if the company had a small margin and he could play golf occasionally.
It was especially clear that the company was lethargic from attending just one meeting. The Yip team knew their meetings were boring and unfocused, but they decided that it was just part of their business and they didn’t do anything about it. This was part of a larger problem of malaise. No one wanted to stay late, work weekends, or ever discuss work outside of the hours of 9 to 5. Everyone would get modest raises each year, and everyone felt comfortable.
When employees did get out of the office to go to work-related conferences, they saw a passion that was nowhere to be found at Yip. But employees rarely left. The CEO was a nice guy, and there weren’t that many jobs out there like theirs.
Lessons from the Death by Meeting Book
- Casey has all of the functioning parts of a good business, but his employees are bored.
- His employees’ boredom comes largely from the unfocused meetings that Casey leads.
- The company would be much more productive if Casey could figure out how to lead better meetings.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Death By Meeting summary :
- Why are meetings so important and detrimental at the same time
- The top 3 issues that commonly plague meetings
- Why a meeting where participants disagree can be a good thing