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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Measley

Why "Committees" Fail

Your "committee" will not work. ((edit))

Your brand new "committee" will malfunction. ((edit))

Your "committee" exists to fail. ((Yeah, that's right)) Have you ever been part of a "committee" in your organization? So have we: lots. "Plan our 5k,” they said. "I'm starting a Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Looking Glass book club,” they said. "We're organizing the annual trip to the roller derby match,” they said. "Company harmonica band practice is tomorrow. Don’t be late. We changed our name to The Harmonics,” Nat said. And the list of clubs and "committees" just keeps going. And, they often fail. But why? And, how do we create “committees” committed to culture and meaningful, measurable outcomes for our organizations? Well, before exploring "the why". Let's dive deeper into the "who, how and what". Here's how this usually works. Employee #38 - let's call him Bondi - has this really great idea for a new "committee" at work. It's perfect. He saw a murder documentary this past weekend on Prime. He's going to start the murder mystery club. He loves murder mysteries now. Sounds innocent enough. Not the murder part. Murder is wrong. So Bondi starts the club at work. Other people join. They watch YouTube docu-recaps (we’ve been assured by our younger colleagues this is a thing) over lunch breaks and happy hours. It’s all good. But then. . . ((reminder: insert dramatic A-minor 5th melodic chord)) The club crumbles. People stop showing up. People get angry. Bondi gets frustrated. Bondi gets promoted in his job function and doesn’t have time for those midday connections with his fellow Nurders. It’s what they call themselves. We’ve seen this in action at startups, corporate and social enterprises of all types and sizes. In fact, our founder, worked as an outsourced committee vendor for other companies all over the world for 12 years. There are lots of reasons these “committees” become ineffective. From our years of experience, research, and case studies, here are our TOP THREE Reasons for why your "committee" will not work. Reason #1. Variable Interests and Identities: Variable means that each individual's interests, identities, and motivations can change by the second. Bondi is going to watch a different documentary next weekend and he's going to want to start flipping and restoring old homes. Oh, Bondi. Fluidity in perspectives and self-interests and identities is real. Past experiences and environment is too. Amalia (2021) posits that the current state of a nation can affect the individual and what emotions they pack for their commute every day, having studied this in a country where major political shifts have happened in the past few years. (Amalia, 2021) Yes, in war-torn countries, uneasy political environments, people still go to work if they can. Change is changing. It’s a good thing. Do you even want to be the same organization you are today, tomorrow? We don’t. One of our favorite peeps once said, “A perfect culture May exist at one single point in time but it doesn’t exist over time.” ((reminder: send Deena Ebbert a hand-written thank you card - *wink*)) Reason #2: “Committee" Metrics Mania The measurement of culture “committees” seems difficult to many we’ve asked. Except they simply aren’t measuring it. So, measure it. When planning that $5k, do the math. Add up the wasted work time. Then, invite your top few potential clients to the 5k. Win the contract because of your culture “committee”. Boom - measured. How do we actually measure the culture piece though; engagement, motivators, happiness, something else? Easy. Ask us about some engagement survey and software teams we know, who far out-perform data received from the once per year annual questionnaire. PS - the once per year survey is dead. It’s been dead. It died in the late 1990’s. R.I.P. ((reminder: set up a Zoom to thank Chester Elton, Christy Lawrence, and Dan Kessler - *wink*)) Reason #3: Failure > Function Your "committee" exists to fail, not function. Fail is a positive four-letter F-word. In design thinking it’s the goal. But failing and forgetting is very different from failing to learn. When only a handful of people show up for your roller derby night out, don’t take offense, don’t force it, don’t try too hard (seriously) and don’t go to that roller derby event if you can’t afford it (literally). Find the ROI. It’s there. It just takes a different approach. ((reminder: go to and get some advice about a model to follow and some early ideas. We love creative and courageous conversations, thoughtful leaders and growing teams.)) Contributors & Use: This article was written and edited by multiple team members and partners. Thanks, everyone! It has been submitted for publishing to numerous articles and journals. Feel free to share. About Convened in 2018, we are a team of thought leaders, experts, coaches, and consultants, applying the principles of design thinking to workplace cultures of all types around the world for realized, measurable business outcomes. works cited Amalia CRISTESCU, et al. “Motivation of the Public Employee in Romania in the Context of the Economic Crisis.” Theoretical and Applied Economics, 10(587), no. 10(587), pp. 49–64. University of Delaware DELCAT Library Search. Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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