Death by Committee

"A Camel is a Horse Designed by a Committee." - Sir Alec Issigonis

I was told as I entered ministry, "You will never meet a committee that you like." I learned this over the years to be true. From a wife of another minister that argued with the staff that a certain movie was R rated (It was PG) to a Fellowship Committee member who bragged about how much he hated college educated people (In front of the Singles Minister, the Music Minister and myself - all with Masters degrees). Don't misunderstand me, I appointed teams of experts that got many things accomplished. I never worked on a committee of volunteers that had any expertise in the task they were assigned, much less any training in the job.

For instance, I worked with a committee chairman on a Building and Space Allocation project one time. He asked me to do a study on possibilities to help us use our space more efficiently and save money He had an agenda (that never revealed to anyone to build a new building and name it for his family).

I studied space allocation and people flow in school. I went around to other churches with similar problems and got some great ideas on re-allocating our existing space and saving a lot of money. One minister I spoke with reminded me that I had the training and expertise and that was why I was hired.

When I presented my study to the committee, the chairman rejected it without even allowing discussion. "Why did you hire me if you didn't want my professional training and expertise?" I asked.

We hired you to solve the problems we may create as WE make decisions. No other reason. I quit making suggestions as one by one they all agreed. The fund raising campaign they put together was a miserable failure. The new building was never built and the committee was disolved.

I was working with several teams I appointed at that same time. I secured leaders who were in touch with responsibility, knew the people and the situations and they accomplished ten times more.

1. Committees empower untrained and usually unchecked people to make decisions based on feelings and very limited experience rather than knowledge about the subject.
2. Committees keep leaders in check from making sound, quick decisions and are a testament to a lack of trust in hired leadership.
3. Committees make the simple process come out very complex and add more than needed in trying to appease everyone's opinions.
4. Committees stall important decisions and cover for leaders who don't want to be blamed for the final word in delivering bad news.
5. Committees provide an excuse for a leader when the decisions go bad, but do not take ownership for their own bad decisions.
6. Committees prevent people from talking directly with leadership about issues or concerns by typically meeting behind closed doors.
7. Committees think they are smarter than the trained, professional leaders hired to run the business to make decisions.

Useless Knowledge
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