The word gives me shivers. Mainly because I have been a part of too many time-wasting committees. In my mind there are three types of committees:
1. The Effective Committee. This kind of committee has a clear focus and dedicated leadership and team members who work, work, work until change occurs. Either this committee disbands once the vision is achieved, or it is continuously evolving, developing, and effecting change.
2. The Perpetual Committee. This type of committee lasts forever. There is no end in sight, which may be because there is still a lot of work to do to effect change, or it is all talk and no action (e.g. brainstorming without implementation), or no one steps up to re-evaluate the committee’s work to see if the committee has fulfilled its purpose.
3. The Check-Box Committee. This committee is a by-product of a “strategic plan” or an administrator thinking “Let’s form a committee to discuss this more!” The committee has no resources or direction or power to do anything. It is quite simply a completed task someone can say, “Oh, yes. Check! We did that.” No real outcomes are expected from the committee and none are delivered.
Committees themselves do not worry me. I have been (and continue to be) a part of many committees making actual changes. However, it is the check-box committees that scare me. You can spot a check-box committee because no one can clearly explain the purpose of the committee or tell the members what it is exactly they need or want them to do. The committees meet for meetings sake, and you may find yourself thinking, “What are we doing here,” or thinking about what a time-waster the meeting/committee is until you are able to escape and decline all future meeting invites. Check-box committees are typically perpetual committees, too, since no one has any direction, it is hard to know when the committee has completed its purpose so it continues to meet indefinitely. It’s a nightmare especially if you are “required” by your employer to be a part of the committee.
Just say no to check-box committees. Spend your time wisely.