Committee Formation

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by Tree Bressen


1. PURPOSE: Doing consensus in a large group requires reserving the full-group time for things that really require the whole group’s attention. Smaller items should be delegated to individuals and committees. The purpose of a committee is to do the work of the group more efficiently than the whole. The committee acts as an arm of the group.

2. Publicizing information from the committee helps increase trust from the group:

  • meeting times and locations, if others are welcome to participate
  • reports to the larger group
  • minutes posted or available

3. Standing vs. Ad Hoc

  • Standing committees do ongoing work of the group (e.g. road maintenance, finance)
  • Ad hoc committees are temporary to accomplish a task (e.g. common house design)

1. Clear mandate. Is the expectation for the committee to do research only, to make recommendations, to make decisions, or to carry out specific work? On big items, the whole group will likely need to participate more in order to get enrolled and contribute their ideas.
2. Timeline.

1. Numbers: 3-5 people is usually most functional. More than 5 people may need a committee facilitator.
2. Traditionally the first person named is the convenor, who gathers group together for first meeting. Be thoughtful about who this is.
3. Find a balance among

  • initiators & follow-through
  • writing skill
  • interpersonal and communication skills
  • linear & gestalt thinkers
  • range of breadth of opinions and views
  • information/knowledge & implementors

4. Joining a committee can happen by people volunteering or by appointments from the group, which is best probably depends on the situation. You also can invite potential or actual committee members to self-analyze, talking about their strengths and weaknesses.