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Inconvenient Truths About Committees

Lori Halley 06 February 2012 2 comments

Are you losing faith in the role committees play at your association? Do
you think that members are just too busy these days to make the committee structure work?

Patricia Hudson (Melos Institute) suggests that it’s not the structure that’s lacking, but the need for “establishing some basic principles and practices for committee effectiveness.”  

In her new article that is available through our Membership Knowledge Hub, Trish demonstrates that “effective committees (or working groups of any kind) serve a valuable and essential role in the governance process.” She also suggests that “committee effectiveness is predicated upon:


  • competent committee management and productive meeting management (yes, they are different).
  • a recognition that associations are a talent pool; that everyone involved in the process has a desire and the potential to succeed but often lacks the skills or experience necessary to do so.
  • attitudes and an organizational culture that believes in empowering those involved to become adept in their role. 

Trish notes that two key  “inconvenient truths are that that somehow we have convinced ourselves that (1) committees don’t work and that (2) members are no longer interested in nor willing to be part of our committees. Not true. Surveys support the fact that members of all generations want to contribute in ways that are meaningful and productive. Their complaint is that meetings too often deal with superficial issues, lacking any real opportunity to make a difference.”

How can you ensure committee success?

The article also offers tips for ensuring committee success through:


  • Developing annual workplans
  • Empowering committee members to become responsible meeting participants
  • Recognizing that it isn’t just about your “talent pool” – committee leaders require training
  • Understanding your association’s specific attitudes and culture
  • Assessing your association’s readiness for effective committee management

Leadership Development Tools

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

Reinforce the Power of Collective Action…. One Committee at a Time

Trish concludes the article by reminding us 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.”

You can read the entire Melos Institute article (PDF) and review the checklist tool, by visiting our Membership Knowledge Hub article summary here: Facing Some Inconvenient Truths About Committees.

Once you read the article, let us know what you think.  You can leave a comment or question for Trish Hudson below.

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Monday, 06 February 2012 at 9:56 AM


  • Deanna Tharpe said:

    Tuesday, 07 February 2012 at 11:06 AM
    I'd love to just repost this incredible info on our blog. Great stuff. But I do think I will utilize the links and great info in our blog this week - this is just too good not to share with our membership (which is parent-support organizations who mostly survive on committees).
  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Tuesday, 07 February 2012 at 11:13 AM
    Deanna: Glad you found this info helpful. Feel free to quote from this blog - as long as you reference Wild Apricot & Melos Institute and link to our blog.
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