Why I Hate Committees (But Love Task Forces)

November 5, 2009

I think committees are a colossal waste of time. Too often they focus on process rather than impact. The typical agenda emphasizes “coloring within the lines” rather than creating collaboration. Attendees are probably there because they are required to be, not because they necessarily have something to contribute.

Over time, a committee tends to take on a life of its own. It creates work to perpetuate its existence. It looks for problems to solve in areas where problems didn’t exist until they were created by problem-solving committee members.

When I’ve chaired committees I’ve often struggled to understand why the committee was originally created and why it continues to exist. I’ve been a member of committees where I was able to catch up on my reading while held hostage by PowerPoint presentations intended to torture me with a meaningless dump of information. As a nonprofit leader, I’ve staffed numerous committees where I wondered how to best use the time of busy volunteers who thought committee work was a good way to be engaged in a worthwhile cause.

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