Two Kinds of Committees – Which Have You Encountered?

David Wedaman writes:

I’ve been reflecting on two different ways of organizing people: the grass-roots organizing committee, and what you might call the generic standing operational committee.

Model 1. The organizing committee (think Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, think Norma Rae, think your local Neighborhood Committee to Save the Park) creates ex nihilo; wrests people from their comfortable lives to solve a collective problem (or brings together people already so wrested); is intense and real, is full of arguments, passion; is omnivorous in regards to talents — takes whatever members can give; is ecumenical in regards to methods and modes and hours of operation; is experiential, reflective, dynamic, limber, nimble; is always in danger of failing; gets in trouble; either does great or horrible things or does not exist.

Model 2. The operational committee (think any standing body in an organization) exists to exist; refines operations (if it’s good) by increments and iterations; is tautological (we do this because we did this); is particular about modes, methods, and members; is not particularly experiential; likes to thoroughly vet ideas or squash them under a heap of well-intentioned questions; is not reflective; does not challenge a person’s comfort (say, desire to continue to be as they are); does neither great nor horrible things; does just enough to keep from getting in trouble.

Nice post. Read the whole thing. It makes me want my own committee work to be full of passion and for my students “group” endeavors to be the same. What do you think drives passion in committees?

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