Dump Your Committees

Volunteerism is changing.

I know I’m not the first person to think – or write – about this. Hell, Peggy Hoffman and Cynthia D’Amour have built their businesses on working with new volunteer models. But recent events have conspired to bring it top of mind for me.

The thing about standing committees is that they’re standing.

Think about that for a moment.

Not “walking.” Not “running.” Not “flying.” Not “innovating.”

Standing. As in “still.”

OK, that may be excessively harsh.

One of the problems with standing committees is that they can easily become zombies, continuing on with calls and meetings and reports to the board whether or not there’s actually anything for them to DO.

Now maybe, at some point in the past, nobody really cared all that much. It was part of your community responsibility to be on the call or in the meeting or to write the report, and if nothing was happening, you were OK with that. Common good and whatnot. At least that’s the theory about Boomers, although I tend to think it’s way less true than everyone pretends it is, but whatever.

One thing we know about following generations is that we’re at least more comfortable expressing our irritation with wasted time and effort. We want to come together, GSD (Get Shit Done), and move on.

What does that remind you of? A task force, right? Bring together a group of people who are genuinely interested and skilled in the task at hand, work on it until it’s done (whether that’s an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year…), have a nice happy hour to celebrate your success, disband.

I know what you’re about to say: “Our standing committees are set in our bylaws. Do you know what a pain in the ass it is to try to change our bylaws?”

Actually, yes, I do, having been through it in prior associations. And you do probably have to maintain a standing finance committee. But just because something is hard to do doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea.


What about an experiment?

The next time one of your board members comes up with a great idea that doesn’t have a natural home in one of your existing committees, try putting together a task force to work it, and see what happens. If it goes well, try disbanding one of your standing non-bylaws-mandated committees (you know you have at least one) and spreading their work to some task forces. If that goes well, maybe it’s time to open the conversation about which standing committees you really have to have, and which you don’t.


Cynthia Got Me Thinking….

As she is wont to do, Cynthia’s response to my post looking for “UNUSUAL source[s] of creativity, great ideas, awesomesauce, and general bad-assed-ness” got me thinking:

Where do you find inspiration in your daily life?

We all spend a lot of time on our careers, on our organizations, online, on social media, on on on on on.

What happens when (hopefully not “if”) you unplug? Where do you turn to renew your creative juices, your love for what you do? What do you do to “live large,” as Cynthia advised?

For myself, I ran consistently for about 12 1/2 years. Running provided a great outlet for me, and gave me time to think and let ideas percolate. This past fall, I realized that my body was not nearly as happy running any more as it used to be. So I opted to take a break, which I’m still on, at least as of this writing. I’m doing other stuff – yoga, dance classes, long walks, etc. – that seems to make my physical self happier at this point, but so far I haven’t found a replacement that provides the same level of mental clarity I enjoyed from running. So I’m still searching there.

Other things that recharge my batteries?

  • Music, particularly live jazz.
  • Spending face to face time with my posse of non-association peeps.
  • Spending face to face time with my posse of association peeps.
  • Travel, to places both familiar and deeply unfamiliar.
  • Live theater.
  • Tarot. (No, I don’t think it’s some sort of Higher Being From The Great Beyond speaking to me through the cards. I *do* think it’s a good way to access what’s going on in the subconscious.)
  • Really pretty stuff in nature, like the image above of the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin here in DC.

What inspires you?