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Committees for Dummies

Well, the book itself does not seem to exist (why not?), so, those of you who have been embroiled in running things for years - what books (if any) have you found useful when starting to think about committee structure and management?


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
24th Feb, 2010 11:47 (UTC)
I doubt it's quite the sort of book that you're after, but a lot of things about committee behaviour suddenly became a lot clearer to me after I read C Northcote Parkinson's Parkinson's Law (or The Pursuit of Progress).
24th Feb, 2010 11:58 (UTC)
Sun Tzu's "The Art of War"
24th Feb, 2010 11:59 (UTC)
Sorry, didn't have any constructive suggestions so took a stab at a funny one.
24th Feb, 2010 12:09 (UTC)
Maybe you ought to create a LiveJournal group to discuss this.
24th Feb, 2010 12:12 (UTC)
I don't know anything about being on committees, let alone setting them up. I was so disheartened by being on one 16 years ago that I stayed away and only joined one last year.

Now that committee is 30 years old so I had no part in its creation.
24th Feb, 2010 14:15 (UTC)
My first proper committee meeting was when I worked at a University: the academic and service side met for their committee meeting and after three hours everyone was congratulating themselves of an excellent meeting because it made a decision.

The decision was to have biscuits with the tea and coffee during the break at the next committee meeting, reversing the decision made at the last committee meeting.
24th Feb, 2010 13:27 (UTC)
It is a recommended book for management trainees, along with The Prince. Which is scary.

Something like this? http://www.mycommittee.com/

24th Feb, 2010 14:16 (UTC)
"The Art of War" is actually a very good book on Philosophy and generally getting things done: your committee could 'go to war' with a problem, for example.
24th Feb, 2010 18:06 (UTC)
Thanks Fran. That looks like an incredibly useful website, and I'm exploring.
24th Feb, 2010 13:53 (UTC)
The traditional trade union and Labour Party book on committee meetings used to be Walter Citrine's A B C of Chairmanship - the Amazon customer reviews are worth reading (and largely accurate). As I move into my new flat, I must check if I've still got my copy. The Worldcon equivalent seems to be Robert's Rules of Order - when I get the opportunity, I must try some comparing and contrasting.

Of course, if you are chairing a meeting and anyone else walks in openly holding a copy of either - the best advice is to have them firmly and immediately escorted from the room.
24th Feb, 2010 18:42 (UTC)
I've been known to cite Roberts Rules to recalcitrant committee members - and got blank looks.

The important thing is for the Chairman and the Secretary to have an intimate knowledge of the rules of whatever organisation the Committee is in charge of (and if there aren't any - write them!)
25th Feb, 2010 02:35 (UTC)
Robert's is for running meetings, rather than running a committee. In general, I think, the work of running a committee happens between meetings.
24th Feb, 2010 13:56 (UTC)
I made sure I had three people to hand who knew what they were doing and I listened to what they said.

Some of the best tips I've got over the years are probably the sort of things you don't find in books.

eg. Never run if you're a con chair, no matter how bad the situation. It makes people assume something has gone drastically wrong.

Always put your guests on fixed expenses (you don't have to be tight, but you set a maximum) and make that clear in advance. There are a small minority (I know of one really awful example) who will screw you for everything they can get.

Realise in advance that at least one key staff member will have to drop out because of stress/illness/bereavement/unemployment and be ready for it when it happens. The hardest, but most necessary, thing of all is to ask a committee member to stand down because they can no longer do the job. You've got to do it, but you've also got to do it in a way that is supportive rather than condemnatory.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


Caroline M

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