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Committees, the most effective way to do nothing

To take a decision is to choose between various options. However there is another rarely understood approach, that is to 'not take a decision'.

Bureaucrats and government officials, politicians often procrastinate, they employ a fairly common approach to avoid taking a decision or to delay matters temporarily or even indefinitely is to form a committee.

Committees are based on the foolish notion that a group is better than an individual and that the majority knows best. A group of people unlettered, uninformed or disinterested on a matter, irrespective of how many they may be in numbers, cannot and will not likely be able to take a good decision on a matter and give effect to it.

You may ask, 'If committees are so ineffective then why are they so popular?'

Committees have their uses.

  • Most individuals particularly in leadership positions have fragile egos. They do not want to appear as not doing anything about a matter, so they refer the matter to a committee. By doing this they send the matter into a loop, usually a very long loop. They can then justify their inaction.

  • For people who want to target or trouble some entity they hide behind a group of people called a committee.

  • 'Cover your Back side' approach. A committee is an excellent mechanism for escaping responsibility and accountability. If by chance the committee does arrive at a decision and the actions go wrong, the leaders can always pin the blame on the committee and members.

  • Committees are very useful for delaying matters or for turning down a proposal. An individual no matter how powerful is to an extent answerable. A refusal or a delay opens up people to accountability, questioning and even litigation, the preferred option is to just refer it to a committee.

  • The tail wags the dog syndrome. Herein an individual manipulates the busy, disinterested members of the committee to get the outcome they want, but make it seem like a universally accepted decision.

This is why one should be wary of Committees.

Committees however are not always a problem, they can be also be useful, powerful and effective. How to get committees to be useful effective, will be covered in the follow up article.


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