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.
|Membership||Comprised of leadership||Comprised of technical experts or stakeholders||Comprised of those doing work as requested by another group/individual
|Decisions||Makes decisions on behalf of larger body of people who assemble||Makes recommendations back to the groups/ individuals||Only address specific issues requested by other groups or individuals that they report to|
|Scope||Provides direction that others implement||Only address specific issues requested by other groups or individuals that they report to||Share information perspectives and insights; to make decisions that help each person do his or her job better|
|Resources||Commits resources||Does not commit resources but may advise on how to use them||They are the human resources|
|Names||Board of Directors or Leadership Team||Advisory Committee or Commission||Teams 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.