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What type of authority does your collaborative group have?

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If you’ve sat on a committee, you’ve probably noticed that sometimes they have a hard time figuring out where they fit into the world. It is a misconception that they struggle because they lack a clear purpose. In our experience, they often have a decent purpose or mission but get confused about what type of authority they have to make decisions. Authority is the defining framework for all collaborative groups and a major source of confusion.

 GOVERNADVISECOORDINATE
MembershipComprised of leadershipComprised of technical experts or stakeholdersComprised of those doing work as requested by another group/individual
Decisions
DecisionsMakes decisions on behalf of larger body of people who assembleMakes recommendations back to the groups/ individualsOnly address specific issues requested by other groups or individuals that they report to
ScopeProvides direction that others implementOnly address specific issues requested by other groups or individuals that they report toShare information perspectives and insights; to make decisions that help each person do his or her job better
ResourcesCommits resourcesDoes not commit resources but may advise on how to use themThey are the human resources
NamesBoard of Directors or Leadership TeamAdvisory Committee or CommissionTeams or Project Team or Workgroup

The type of authority a group has defines what type of group it is. All committees fall primarily into one of the following three categories. Additionally, they can also take on a secondary level for specific tasks.

Unless a group has a clear understanding of their level of authority and how each of the issues is operationalized, they may continue to struggle.

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.

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  • Megan Wilmoth,
  • November 5, 2013

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