An Interview with Al Pittampalli, Author of "Read This Before Our Next Meeting"

Lynette Mong on August 03, 2011


Al Pittampalli is founder of The Modern Meeting Company, a group that helps organizations transform meetings, make decisions, and coordinate complex teams. His first book, Read This Before Our Next Meeting, comes out today. As an IT advisor at Ernst & Young LLP, Al witnessed the meeting problem firsthand at Fortune 500 companies all across the country and brings fresh eyes to stuck business systems. Read on to find out more about Read This Before Our Next Meeting and how to eliminate ineffective meetings once and for all.

Question: Why should I read this book before my next meeting?

Al Pittampalli: Because you have a problem. Ineffective meetings are quietly corroding your organization and stealing your personal passion for making a difference. Meetings are a constant force working against change. They halt your momentum, compromise decisions, and leave little time for the real work, the kind that actually matters. You want to work in an organization where change happens and the work you day everyday makes an impact in the world. In Read This Before Our Next Meeting, I argue that the quality of your meetings is the quality of your organization.

Question: What is the true source of the meeting problem?

Al Pittampalli: The reason why we have so many purposeless, ineffective meetings is that people are terrified of making decisions. When a tough situation arises, instead of making a decision, we call a meeting--our default stalling tactic. We rationalize that we called that meeting as a strategic choice but whom are we kidding? Mostly, a meeting called to make a pressing decision is an emotional choice. That's why Read This Before Our Next Meeting doesn’t just ask you to make your meetings better (that doesn’t work), but to redefine the meeting to address the root of the problem: decisions.

Question: What is the Modern Meeting Standard?

Al Pittampalli: The Modern Meeting Standard is a set of 7 principles that completely redefine what a meeting can be. The beauty is that instead of delaying decisions, the Modern Meeting enables them. The most important principle is that a Modern Meeting can't exist without a decision to support; you can't even call a meeting until you've made your decision. Once you’ve made a decision, you'll realize you probably don't need a meeting, but if you do, it'll be for good reason--either conflict or coordination.

Question: What will this book not teach me?

Al Pittampalli: If you're looking for a how-to guide on how to run a meeting, Read This Before Our Next Meeting is not for you. There are a lot of these books available, but frankly, they’re not what you (or your organization) needs.

The tactics of running a meeting pale in comparison to the real issue: changing the way we think about meetings. Read This dissects that thinking and shows a new, better way to meet, and thus run your organization.

Question: Why is the book titled Read This Before Our Meeting?

Al Pittampalli: We're in this together because you can't solve the meeting problem alone. You have to engage your co-workers and gradually transform your organization’s meeting culture with the help of others. Read This Before Our Next Meeting was designed to be a manifesto that’s easy to share and worthy of giving to someone who trusts you.

What happens when everyone on your team, in your office or organization reads this book? A revolution, a fundamental shift in how people think about their time and ownership of what they do all day. I want you to not only read this book, but share it with everyone in your organization. Together we can destroy the status quo meeting system, and replace it with something worthy of the heart and soul you bring to work each day.

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