Sorry peeps a little rant about committees.

The place for serious discussion, announcements and breaking news about Sydenham

Moderator: frenzarin

Post Reply
summerbreeze
Posts: 32
Joined: 19 Feb 2010 14:16
Location: Sydenham

Sorry peeps a little rant about committees.

Post by summerbreeze » 17 Jul 2011 12:22

I just frequent these forums as I live in Sydenham and have an interest in the community I live.
I read many threads with interest but I keep my views to myself generally as I find a lot of what goes on here can be politically driven and not always in the best interest in the community it is set out to support.

While reading some threads I am very unsettled with some of the committees set up to serve the community, I am a voluntary part of a committee group within this borough and was elected on by the people I am there to represent. As part of that committee we are answerable to the people we serve. We are there to be questioned and we keep things transparent for all members to see so they can make an informed choice.

I don’t believe what I do is any different from being on a non elected committee and saying you are serving the people when doors seem closed and nobody knows who is answerable.

Nobody I believe can make a informed decision based on covering up and keeping doors closed. It people put themselves into a position I believe they are answerable to the people they are there to represent.

I just get an impression sometimes with different things I read about here that really isn’t always the case, I have heard mention about someone in that position being asked not to have their name mentioned. I can’t not understand why that is, if you have a passion and belief in something I feel the more open and transparent you become has positive effects rather than negative.

To believe in something it is up to you to stand up and be account for and strong enough to take some flack. If you can’t take the flack I believe you shouldn’t have jumped into the fire.

I think more gets achieved and people are happier to support people that are open and transparent.

You can liken it to the state our country is in right now.
May also be why I steer clear of politics it always seems like a game of one upmanship rather than serving the people that you say you want to serve.

Sorry peeps I didn’t mean to rant.

bigbadwolf
Posts: 726
Joined: 7 Jan 2008 21:21
Location: Forest Hill and Sydenham

Re: Sorry peeps a little rant about committees.

Post by bigbadwolf » 17 Jul 2011 12:39

I don't think it's a rant at all, Summerbreeze. No, I regard it as an entirely legitimate concern. A concern that I share and stated as much in the thread in which it was mentioned that a local committee member wished her identity to remain a secret. I mean, only an idiot would be blind to te fact that this reluctance to make themselves known to those they purport to act on behalf of will engender suspicion amongst those they claim to serve.

Rachael
Posts: 2438
Joined: 23 Jan 2010 13:42
Location: Sydenham / Forest Hill Intersection

Re: Sorry peeps a little rant about committees.

Post by Rachael » 17 Jul 2011 16:44

Couldn't agree more, Summerbreeze.

One of the reasons I never join committees is because of the sort of people who join committees. And before anyone says you can only effect change from the inside, it's been my experience that the culture of the committee is too strong to resist and however good and pure intention your going in, sooner or later you will become one of Them.

[ Post made via Mobile Device ] Image
Last edited by Rachael on 17 Jul 2011 21:39, edited 1 time in total.

Robin Orton
Posts: 3242
Joined: 9 Sep 2008 07:30
Location: London SE26

Re: Sorry peeps a little rant about committees.

Post by Robin Orton » 17 Jul 2011 19:33

One of the reasons I never join committees is because of the sort of people who join committees. [...] It's been my experience that the culture of the committee is too strong to resist and however good and pure intention goings going in, sooner or later you will become one of Them.
Blimey, it's a good thing everyone doesn't take such a defeatist line. Otherwise nobody would ever join committees and nothing would ever get done.

stuart
Posts: 3221
Joined: 21 Sep 2004 10:13
Location: Lawrie Park
Contact:

Re: Sorry peeps a little rant about committees.

Post by stuart » 17 Jul 2011 20:10

Committees are good when decision require a multiplicity of disciplines or experience beyond the compass of a single individual. It also helps if they have a clear objective (something to do with the delivery of a product or service - not just existing) and an end date. Not to mention that the members share a mutual respect for each other.

Otherwise a clearly tasked, visible and accountable individual may get a result, quicker, cheaper and more reliable (if only to protect their reputation - not being able to blame it on anybody else).

And some of us, Robin, are just not suited to committees. That's agreed by every committee I have tried - and failed.

Stuart

Rachael
Posts: 2438
Joined: 23 Jan 2010 13:42
Location: Sydenham / Forest Hill Intersection

Re: Sorry peeps a little rant about committees.

Post by Rachael » 17 Jul 2011 21:08

Not defeatist, Robin, realistic about my own unsuitability to be a Committee Lady.

[ Post made via Mobile Device ] Image

Tim Lund
Posts: 6688
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: Sorry peeps a little rant about committees.

Post by Tim Lund » 17 Jul 2011 23:15

stuart wrote:Committees are good when decision require a multiplicity of disciplines or experience beyond the compass of a single individual. It also helps if they have a clear objective (something to do with the delivery of a product or service - not just existing) and an end date. Not to mention that the members share a mutual respect for each other.

Otherwise a clearly tasked, visible and accountable individual may get a result, quicker, cheaper and more reliable (if only to protect their reputation - not being able to blame it on anybody else).

And some of us, Robin, are just not suited to committees. That's agreed by every committee I have tried - and failed.

Stuart
Some good points here, Stuart, but committees are normally thought to be needed for organisations to be accountable. A clearly tasked, visible and accountable individual may get quicker results, but a committee can actually work by tasking such an individual, and providing the visibility and accountability you corrected require. Committees should also help with succession planning, sometimes supported by constitution clauses requiring long serving officers to step down after a period of years. Also, some tasks do not have an end date - e.g. the management committee of my allotments, which is required year in, year out, to collect rents, repair fences, decide whether tenants aren't looking after their plots well enough, and more. You're right that some people just can't hack committees - often because they have a clear idea of what needs to be done, and get impatient or bored with other people sounding off without knowing what they're talking about. Could that be you?

Going back to Summerbreeze's original point - I think her subject line is confusing us. The heart of the problem is not committees, but this
Summerbreeze wrote:Nobody I believe can make an informed decision based on covering up and keeping doors closed. If people put themselves into a position, I believe they are answerable to the people they are there to represent.
which applies as much to individuals as committees. When I joined my allotment association committee about ten years ago, I was impressed by how clear the other members were about the principle of openness - that committee meetings should be open to all members to attend, and to speak to, held at regular times, and with minutes published within a week of the meeting. I can't say the meetings have always been models of efficient or even sensible decision making, and fairly regularly personality clashes make them quite tense, but there's never any question of their legitimacy - which in the long run is essential for a well run organisation. And outside the committee, people who need to get on and do something, without all the business of committee meetings, can do so, resulting in our amazing Open Days.

Robin Orton
Posts: 3242
Joined: 9 Sep 2008 07:30
Location: London SE26

Re: Sorry peeps a little rant about committees.

Post by Robin Orton » 18 Jul 2011 10:26

I wonder whether some people who don't think they are 'commitee people' may not have been unnecessarily scarred by experiences of badly-run committees. I believe that membership of a committee which shares a common purpose and enthusiasm, and is well-managed, can be a very worthwhile and life-enhancing experience, which I'd have thought most people are equipped to share. Committees can be cool!

In my experience, a committee cannot work well without a wise and skilful chair, and, if possible, a competent and imaginative secretary as well. Chairs need to have a clear vision of the direction they think the organization or whatever it is ought to be going in, which they can communicate to the other members of the committee. They need to prepare carefully for meetings; to be well briefed and, if necessary, to have informal discussions in advance with key members on potentially difficult issues. They need, with the secretary, to give careful thought to planning the agenda. They need to have a clear idea of what outcomes they want from meetings or what decisions they want taken, together with a plan B for use if they are unsuccessful. At the meeting they need to be courteous but firm, encouraging everyone to express their views but without letting the business of the meeting being hi-jacked by ego trips or irrelevant arguments. They need to ensure that a note of decisions taken and action agreed (and of who is responsible for taking that action) is circulated very quickly after the meeting and to ask the secretary to chase them up as necessary.

But perhaps all this is straying too far from Summerbreeze's particular concerns.

Tim Lund
Posts: 6688
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: Sorry peeps a little rant about committees.

Post by Tim Lund » 18 Jul 2011 12:16

Robin:

I agree with your sentiments, but if you say committees need all this perfection, you're giving those who are reluctant to get involved with any actual committee the excuse they are looking for. Some wise words from one of my allotment neighbours - not a committee type, but a mainstay of our annual show - is that you work with the people who are there as well as you can. It sometimes also helps to be able to detach yourself from the imperfections of an actual committee and appreciate the wonderful variety that makes up humankind.

Blushingsnail
Posts: 71
Joined: 20 Jul 2006 10:38
Location: Forest Hill

Re: Sorry peeps a little rant about committees.

Post by Blushingsnail » 18 Jul 2011 16:28

I think people can get too hung up on the word 'committee', especially ones relating to local societies etc. In my experience they're just a group of people sitting around someone's dining room table, talking about stuff while consuming quantities of wine, crisps and biscuits. They're not imposing life-changing decisions on remote strangers. They're local people talking about local topics, and suggesting and actioning ideas that they hope will improve/benefit the area.

I think the term 'working group' or even just 'team' would be more appropriate, but people seem to like reaching for the word 'committee'.

Robin Orton
Posts: 3242
Joined: 9 Sep 2008 07:30
Location: London SE26

Re: Sorry peeps a little rant about committees.

Post by Robin Orton » 18 Jul 2011 16:55

It sometimes also helps to be able to detach yourself from the imperfections of an actual committee and appreciate the wonderful variety that makes up humankind.
OK for laid-back types like you, Tim, but more difficult for us anxious and obsessive types who want to GET THINGS DONE, preferably in the way that WE think they ought to be done. Unless we have a clear and transparent structure, with the occasional warning crack of the chairperson's whip ringing in our ears, we get frustrated and tend to resign.
They're local people talking about local topics, and suggesting and actioning ideas that they hope will improve/benefit the area.
Indeed, Blushingsnail - but do they succeed?
I think the term 'working group' or even just 'team' would be more appropriate
Maybe - so long as they actually do some work and actually score some goals!

Tim Lund
Posts: 6688
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: Sorry peeps a little rant about committees.

Post by Tim Lund » 18 Jul 2011 17:01

Blushingsnail wrote:I think people can get too hung up on the word 'committee', especially ones relating to local societies etc. In my experience they're just a group of people sitting around someone's dining room table, talking about stuff while consuming quantities of wine, crisps and biscuits. They're not imposing life-changing decisions on remote strangers. They're local people talking about local topics, and suggesting and actioning ideas that they hope will improve/benefit the area.
No reason at all to get hung up about the word 'committee' - as argued above, it's the accountability that matters, whether of an individual or group, whatever name it's given. In the case of the Sydenham Mosaic Project, you're right that there aren't exactly life-changing decisions at stake, but decisions still, which will indeed affect remote strangers - the unknown person who in years to come happens to look up at the Naborhood Centre and wonder at the quality of the art work on display. More immediately, but may be just as remote, are all the other groups in Sydenham who might have benefited from the £12,000 allocated - so far? - to this project.

Tim Lund
Posts: 6688
Joined: 13 Mar 2008 18:10
Location: Silverdale

Re: Sorry peeps a little rant about committees.

Post by Tim Lund » 18 Jul 2011 17:07

Robin Orton wrote:OK for laid-back types like you, Tim, but more difficult for us anxious and obsessive types who want to GET THINGS DONE, preferably in the way that WE think they ought to be done. Unless we have a clear and transparent structure, with the occasional warning crack of the chairperson's whip ringing in our ears, we get frustrated and tend to resign.
Robin - I know the feeling. However, after absenting myself from my allotments committee for the year specified as required at least every ten years by its constitution, I'm happy to say I was invited to stand again. However, it seems to get on fairly well without me attending those meetings :D

Post Reply