The Leadership Challenge: The Yoda Process to Meeting Success – 4 Tips!

The Point: Have you ever been in one of those meetings where the leader ram-rod home point after point, only to have everyone participating withdraw further and further from the team’s mission? How about if your meetings just don’t have a high level of candor/commitment present? If so, then this special May 4th Star Wars themed leadership challenge tip is for you… Introducing the Yoda Process to Meeting Success along with 4 tips. May the force be with you… Enjoy!

The Leadership Challenge: The Yoda Process to Meeting Success – 4 Tips!

Our Meetings Suck!?!

So you’re sitting through yet again another boring meeting at work… What makes the meeting so boring? Why do you keep on putting up with such time sucks? In my advisory services, I’ve noticed a lot of meetings taking place where nothing of importance gets reviewed, discussed, and resolved (if need be). Conversely, I also see a lack of meetings take place on topics that should be reviewed to realign stakeholders.

If you’re like me, you’ve read countless creative ways in which to make meeting success occur through the use of what I can only call “cute” techniques. Think a meeting is going too long? Implement an egg timer so that when the timer runs out, the meeting is over (or everyone gets paroled!) How about coming up with an agenda that dictates not only topics that are allowed to be discussed, but the individual who will be “telling” instead of “discussing” the topic at hand. Now don’t get me wrong, an egg timer can be useful (if you’re making hard-boiled eggs) and an agenda can keep you on-time/on-target (if your leader had ADD/ADHD). But what you might need to do is let the “force” guide you by implementing the Yoda Process.

The Yoda Process

Who can forget that scene in the swamp where a young Luke Skywalker is training under the Jedi Master Yoda. With failure after failure occurring, and frustration mounting, Yoda attempts to guide Luke to use the force to help him. Just like a lot of young leaders (young is a state of mind), Luke replies “All right, I’ll give it a try.” To which our Jedi Master explodes “NO! Try not! DO or DO NOT. There is no try.” So what if you had a Jedi Master in each of your meetings? Do you believe things would better? Better decisions would be made? More authority would be gained? Projects and goals would be achieved? If all of these sound like a good moment, then the Yoda Process is for you.

The Yoda Process consists of appointing a Yoda for each meeting. The role of this Yoda is to keep stakeholders in line (on topic) and engaged during the meeting. The Yoda also helps keep professionalism in play (Sometimes honesty has a price to play in hostility and disrespect). A key question to ask the Yoda during meetings are:

– What are we not talking about that we should?

– Is this the most useful utilization of the stakeholders time?

The Yoda can then report back on the meetings “State of Candor” and insure that meeting results are achieved.

Four Tips for The Leadership Challenge of the Yoda Process for Meeting Success

Here then are four tips for the leadership challenge of the Yoda process for meeting success that I would look for you to employ in your next meeting:

Tip #1 – Select Yoda Carefully

You just can’t pick anyone as the Yoda for your next meeting, or can you? I would implore you to have a “rotating” Yoda chair in which each team member is allowed to play the role of Yoda. Not only will this strengthen team dynamics, but should increase individual accountability!

Tip #2 – ID Yoda Questions

While I mention two questions to ask your Yoda during a meeting, your particular meeting might require different ones. Ask your stakeholders to develop/come-up with questions that are specific to your project at hand either prior to or at the start of your meeting.

Tip #3 – Keep Track of Yoda Progress

Monitor your Yoda progress by measuring milestones associated with the implementation of your Yoda Process. Remember, what gets measured gets managed.

Tip #4 – Meet with Yoda Post-Meeting

You should plan on debriefing with Yoda after your meeting, NOT to talk about the meeting that just was met about, BUT instead to identify what worked well/not so well, what should be continued/discontinued, and what should be done the same/different next meeting. These Yoda Post-Meetings should be shared with the next Yoda so that meeting faux-pas don’t repeat themselves.


In this post we’ve taken a look at the leadership challenge of the Yoda Process to Meeting Success and provided 4 tips. If there is a dynamic in the room where you perceive that someone is holding back, try to encourage them to speak openly. Hence the Yoda Process was born. This process/methodology consists of designating one (or more) individuals to monitor meeting conversations to insure that they stay on-topic/on-reality. In the event the monitor senses someone that is holding back, they will call that individual out, requesting that they sense the holding back moment as such, and speak on behalf of said individual. Remember, while May 4th might only come around once per year, the force should always be with you!


Sam Palazzolo