Facing Some Inconvenient Truths About Committees


by Patricia A Hudson, MPsSc of the Melos Institute *

Are you beginning to wonder if committee members are just too busy these days to make the committee structure work? Perhaps it’s not the structure that’s lacking, but the need for “establishing some basic principles for committee effectiveness.”

In this article, Patricia Hudson of the Melos Institute* notes that “enough evidence exists to suggest that effective committees serve a valuable and essential role in the governance process,” but we need to shift our attention to figuring out why committees succeed or fail. She offers some perspective on “effective management vs productive meeting management,” identifies some “inconvenient truths" and offers some thoughts on and tips for ensuring committee success through:

  • Developing annual workplans to manage committees
  • Empowering committee members and staff to become responsible meeting participants
  • Recognizing that it isn’t just about finding “talented leaders” – everyone involved (committee leaders, members, and staff) requires training in meeting management
  • Understanding how your association’s specific attitudes and culture affects committees
  • Assessing your association’s readiness for effective committee management

The article also includes a link to the Melos Institute’s Leadership Development Tools – including the “Building Productive Working Relationship Checklist.”

Hudson concludes the article by reminding the reader that, “your members represent a vast talent pool. And, each has connections into a professional network that would benefit your organization. By creating opportunities for members to become actively engaged in their organization’s governance, you not only enhance your ability to make such connections, you also reinforce the power of collective action…one committee at a time.”


* The Melos Institute is a nonprofit nonpartisan independent think tank that works with thinkers and shapers to find new and better ways for volunteer and staff leaders to deliver more meaningful and transformative experiences to their members. The Institute’s applied research initiatives are geared to helping us understand the strategies and tactics as well as the principles, processes and tools that will produce an active and engaged membership.


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