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More Committees for Dummies

I found the comments on the previous post interesting. I've been involved in Committees and Projects for years, and have a good deal of practical experience. But when I go looking for 'how to' books to check and ratify that experience and suggest points I might be missing, it's awfully easy to find Project Management for Dummies (which is around here somewhere in fact, and was incredibly useful for this purpose), but not so Committees for Dummies.

I've read the books mentioned (albeit years ago) - Art of War and Parkinson's Law and The Peter Principle and The Prince and quite a few more. I can tell committee horror stories to match the best of them.

But what I'm looking for right now, and it looks as if A.B.C of Chairmanship might provide - thank you Peter - is something that talks generally about the practicalities of managing committees and might say some things like:

Setting up Sub-Committees:

It's time to set up a sub-committee when one or more of the following pertains:
- there's too much work for one person
- the work is too important to rely on just one person
- no one person has enough knowledge to do the job alone
- you need more credibility for the results than any one person can provide
- and...what other reasons might there be?

If you look at setting up a sub-committee for whatever reasons and you can't because:

You don't have enough people interested in the topic, this is what you should consider doing about it...


Everyone's got too much work on already...


Nobody available has any of the right kind of credibility...


You've tried to set up a sub-committee and failed for whatever reason so consider the following alternatives...

Here are some sample Terms of Reference for sub-committees...

And so on across the organisational and financial management boards. Succinct and comprehensive and practical.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
24th Feb, 2010 16:37 (UTC)
Key reason for subcommittees round here is that main committee can't take all the decisions that need to be taken in its name, so part of the work is devolved bindingly to subcommittees -- and the decisions of the subcommittee bind the full committee. Most obvious example is the Cabinet.
24th Feb, 2010 16:45 (UTC)

Committees exist because the same is true of individuals - they are systems for managing the work and sharing it around. Companies are run by Committees/Boards. And as such Committees/Boards often fail - see Simon Jenkins in this morning's Guardian pointing out (all over again) that the job of Prime Minister is impossible because there is just too much work in it even after the invention of the Cabinet.

Lots of this stuff you can't do anything about. But I'd like to try to avoid obvious mistakes.
25th Feb, 2010 02:33 (UTC)
There's also the defensive creation of subcommittees - to get an argument out of main committee because it's being disruptive to the main business.

Bonus points for creating a deadlock in the subcommittee...
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Caroline M

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