Committees Kill

There's really nothing like a committee to destroy progress and effectiveness within an organization. It's truly a mystery to me as to why companies establish committees to do anything, unless it's actually a nefarious plot to avoid doing things, but I'm reluctant to ascribe to a conspiracy that which can be explained by stupidity.

Ostensibly, a committee is formed to make a decision about a topic or group of topics. And, in the spirit of collaboration and teamwork, several people are assigned to the committee so that the various stakeholders are represented. With all the stakeholders present, the thinking goes, the members of the committee will engage in high-minded, rational discussion and arrive at the right decision.

Which has never actually happened in human history.

Really, what person over the age of 10 believes that this could actually work? After watching the evening news, does it suddenly occur to some executive that the company needs to embrace Congressional efficiency with multiple committees and sub-committees? Or, after watching a Congressional committee hearing, were they struck by the open pursuit of Truth where non-partisan experts presented unbiased information that enables each committee member insightful reflection leading to a conscientious decision?

Some might say that's unfair, certainly colleagues working to a common goal, the success of their business will perform better? To those, I would ask why a committee to discuss the proposal from the sales department to outsource development from IT to accelerate product delivery will have any less animosity?

The problem stems from the conflation of gathering relevant, but diverse, information with making a decision. Gathering good information will generally require a team, but making a decision is a singular act. Either by an individual or by consolidating the viewpoints of a group through a voting process. When sustaining democratic republic, there's a need for an inclusive vote, but not so much in a corporation.

With an organization, the goal should be making a good decision backed by accountability and expected results, which can be done by an individual leader with the resources to gather the relevant information. If they don't make a good decision, then they can be held accountable. If a committee makes a bad decision, who do you hold accountable (aside from the person that assembled the committee)?

Committees pursue least common denominator consensus. They pursue risk reduction. They pursue political compromise.

They kill innovation.