Understanding Why Your Committee May Not Have a Team Agenda

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
Mark St. Cyr

Since the masonic world appears to revolve around the idea and creation of committees, I penned the following that may help spread some light on why things may not be happening in ways that are assumed. This issue is very common and most don’t fully appreciate it, let alone, consider it fully. 

In the world of business, we hear from just about anyone who  strides a stage or whips out the PowerPoint® presentation  that it’s about “Teams.” They blather ad nauseam about team building. Most regurgitate so many old and tired metaphors to emphasize their points one needs to wonder if they purchased them by the ton.  

Here’s just one: “There’s no 'I' in Team!”  

Back in the day I swore if I ever heard that one again I would walk out of the meeting even if it meant I would be fired.  Enough already, what’s next “Right brain, Left brain  thinking?” Forget the pink slip. Save a tree and I’ll leave  right now was my initial reaction to most of this so-called  “insight.” 

Note: The whole “Left brain, right brain…” thing was disproved scientifically almost as fast as it was told and sold. 

But that hasn’t stopped the endless “New and Improved!”  versions to be authored and then embraced by clueless managements or HR departments. But I digress. 

Let me dispel something else that most don’t fully  understand when it comes to the idea of “team building.”  

A committee can not only cause your team to lose but may actually prefer it. Yes, I just said that. 

Teams and team building is what most say they want their organization to resemble. The problem is most never understand that on a team there can not be any winners or losers within the team without affecting the well-being of the team. Here’s an example: 

When you have one person who can win at the expense of another you don’t have a team - you have a committee.  

The two are similar when viewed from a distance however they are geared and designed to exploit very different objectives. 

Teams share a common goal. That goal could be winning a  game, designing a new widget, or a research project just to name a few. Everyone on the team shares the common quest for the attainment or successful outcome of the project. 

However, if for some reason one person’s input (on the team)  needs to be discounted or not used, that person is neither to be offended nor felt left out. 

Exp: Maybe they’ll need to switch roles, or work on something that seems unrelated to outsiders. But for the winning of the team in its goal - nothing is too big or too small a chore. (Think “Left fielder” moving to “Batting  coach” to possibly win the championship as an example.) 

On a team, the team winning is all that matters, even if it means one of the members needs to be sidelined or  “benched” staying with the sports analogy. But make no mistake. That is not the way committees work, and that’s what most are, but they call themselves the former. 

Committees are important and necessary. They allow for different teams to coalesce and fight for why their project,  research, and others have a need. Another would be to validate their funding. You get the idea.  

But unlike a team - the members on a committee don’t share  the most fundamental principle needed for a team, which is: 

In a committee, someone can win big while another can lose.  (and lose big!) Here’s an example: 

In a committee made up of different department heads let’s say the warehouse department wants more influence or control of inventory decisions, despite that control would entail hindering the purchasing department.  

Here’s why this could be an issue with disastrous implications…

While the warehouse department might win the argument for  having the control (e.g., “We’ll tell you what can or can not,  and by how much, will be put into the warehouse.”), the purchasing department would in effect be losing.  

For inherent with that decision the purchasing department possibly can’t, or won’t via negative connotations, take advantage of offers for some deeply discounted volume buys that would give the sales force an edge over the competition.  Why? 

Because the arguments over control have been decided by the committee to reside with the warehouse. i.e., “Sorry, no room  but thanks for asking.”  

The warehouse might now be running like a Swiss clock, but other departments, or the company as a whole, could suffer greatly.  

Said differently… 

The warehouse has won the battle for control where there’s now little product coming in as well as going out. Everyone within the warehouse applauds their “management” for making their shipping procedures completely predictable and their workload far less stressful. All the while… 

Their competition has loaded up and is bulging at the seams with discounted products they're able to now sell at double the profit margin to all the customers of the “winning warehouse” purveyor. But not to worry, for all the chaos probably happening within the warehouse at said competition… 

For it won’t be long before they’ll be able to pick up more warehouse space - at a deep discount - when that efficiently run committee-driven warehouse company needs to file for bankruptcy. 

Understanding this dichotomy and managing each effectively is what sets winning teams or companies apart. 

Mark St.Cyr 


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