Planosaurus
Planosaurus makes
Organizational Monsters go extinct

Committees are what they are, not what they are called – name committees accurately

Share this post:

Early in my career I was asked to be on an “advisory committee” sponsored by a state agency; the group met quarterly under the guise of advising the state agency on specific issues. But in the years the committee was in existence, the sponsoring agency was never advised on anything, though that was supposed to be the intent of the group. In fact, I’ve only participated in one advisory committee that actually advised and, not surprisingly, it was not sponsored by a government agency.

While government agencies are probably the worst offenders, thousands of committees across the country have words like ‘advisory’ or ‘recommending’ in their names – implying their role is to advise another group or individual on decisions based on the group’s collective experience and expertise. It is crucial for groups coming together to have a clear purpose, but it is equally as important to understand what type of group they are.

Once groups establish a clear purpose and level of authority, they need to make sure their name reflects what they do, not who they are.

Be honest about your committee’s name

It is perfectly acceptable to bring various stakeholders together to compare information and not make decisions as long as the committee name, purpose and authority level make that clear. Savvy individuals will quickly catch on and may either stop coming or put public pressure on you to live up to your name.

Policy makers can ‘coordinate’ too

There is a tendency when bringing together ‘policy makers’ or ‘leaders’ to add the word ‘policy’ to the committee title as though that is what they are there to create. It is ok for people in leadership positions to participate on a committee of their peers to compare information and coordinate work. If this is the case, make sure that words like ‘policy’ or ‘leadership’ in the name reflect who, not what.

Name committees using a simple formula

Name committees with the following formula: who does what (for whom). While this formula doesn’t produce catchy names or clever acronyms, it provides a starting point for naming a group appropriately.

About Megan Wilmoth

Megan Wilmoth is the president of Planosaurus, a women-owned consulting firm that helps organizations eliminate the common threats to collaboration they affectionately call Organizational Monsters so that projects, programs, boards, committees, and teams can consistently achieve collaborative productivity. With twenty years of experience, she has provided a wide range of planning and management services to organizations ranging from Fortune 500, large and medium-sized companies, trade associations, non-profits, and government agencies. She is fueled by quality coffee and the opportunity to make the thankless job of managing collaborative managers easier.

Visit My Website
View All Posts
Share this post:
  • Megan Wilmoth,
  • November 5, 2013

Add comment

Plan on better collaborative productivity