The Committee to Eliminate Committees (CTEC)
A camel is a horse designed by a committee. Camels are awesome but they’re a poor substitute for horses.
A horse designed by a committee solves too many problems.
A sarcastic suggestion:
Establish the Committee to Eliminate Committees (CTEC – pronounced See-Tech).
CTEC’s job is the evaluation and elimination of all but essential meetings and committees.
Guidelines for CTEC:
- Meet once a quarter.
- Review cost reports received for every meeting.
- Everyone who calls a meeting must send a cost report to CTEC.
- Cost reports shall include the combined salary cost for everyone in the room during the meeting, including travel time.
- Direct meeting costs like food, travel, and lodging shall be included.
- Estimated lost opportunity costs if everyone in the room had done something like creating, serving, or keeping customers shall be listed.
- Explain support staff costs the meeting incurs.
- CTEC shall publish the cost of all meetings on the company’s internal website along with the person’s name who called the meeting.
5 Questions to evaluate meetings:
- What was the stated purpose of your meeting/committee?
- What specific result was expected from your meeting?
- What result did you achieve?
- How often did you meet?
- Who actually did work as a result of the meeting? Eliminate everyone from meeting rosters who isn’t doing real work.
Committee or task force:
Eliminate the term committee from organizational language. Anyone who uses the term is required to buy lunch for his team.
Replace the term committee with task force.
Assemble a task force to solve specific problems or identify and seize specific opportunities.
Set a death date that determines the life of a task force. One month. Two months. No more than three months. Any group that meets longer than three months is fodder for the Committee to Eliminate Committees.
What committees/meetings are essential to organizational success?
How might leaders eliminate or abbreviate meetings?
Years ago, someone developed a “taxicab fare” program for meetings: enter the salaries for all attendees and press start. The idea was that you could see how much the meeting was costing as the total kept ticking up and up and up. From that, you could decide whether the meeting was adding value, including whether all of the attendees really had to be there. And it would also help focus the attendees on what needed to be accomplished. Nowadays, there are several versions, including some that calculate the cost of weekly meetings projected out to a year. Perhaps CTEC should require committees to use one of those before the committee is approved to start in the first place.
Thanks Jennifer. Love it. That’s sort of like the national debt calculator. However, you would hope a cost of meeting calculator would have more impact.
Board of Directors are as capable of taking Committees to higher levels as they can take Leadership to lower levels.
Most public firms have a Committee on Directors whose only job is to nominate their friends to these highly paid jobs. And the Directors are paid extra for each Committee Meeting to do something that all Directors can and should do to help their firm succeed!
Thanks Brad. Talk about incentive to waste time and create busy work!
Federal government, we love committees and if I suggested this we would have a committee to evaluate this. So no I wont share this one. I have started to change committees to task force, since committees need missions statements and org charts and objectives and and and… task forces don’t.
Thanks Walt. A committee to evaluate the committee to eliminate committees. That’s precious! 🙂 … so glad you stopped in today.
Dan, suggestion in addition to these great ideas… do the meeting with everyone standing up. I cut our team meeting time in half.
Thanks Chris, Great idea!
You need to credit Allan Sherman for the quote.
If you refer to “A camel is a horse designed by a committee,” I found so many references to it and so many suggestions on who said it that I figure it was part of modern language. If you have some verification, I’d be glad to give attribution.
A couple of decades ago, thinking there were too many committees in city government, our local mayor formed a committee to study the committees. The headlines in the local newspaper about the mayor’s plan made the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
Thanks Jim, Great story. This post is a bit tongue in cheek. 🙂
Ask yourself why these committees exist: in many cases, you will find it’s because there IS a problem to address. There’s a committee because nobody in the organisation actually has a means of solving that problem (it’s too financially, politically or ethically sensitive), but that “something has to be done”. The committee piddles away time, money and effort providing a pretence of progress.
Thanks Mitch. Problem solving shouldn’t need a committee that doesn’t have an expiration date. Each problem that can’t be solved with existing practices and structures needs a unique set of individuals to solve it. These individuals should be experts in that particular area. If a problem takes more than three months to solve you probably need a new set of people working on it.
Dan, a classic example of what I mean is a “reward and remuneration committee”. Bottom line is that the organisation is not prepared to do anything whatsoever to improve pay, terms and conditions. However, if you come out honestly and say “This organisation is not prepared to do anything whatsoever to improve pay, terms and conditions, like it or lump it”, it is going to find retention and recruitment incredibly difficult, so it uses a committee, with a rotating membership, to come up with different ways of ignoring the issue…