ArLyne's Diamonds

A running commentary of ideas

Monday, April 01, 2013

Building a Camel when You want a Horse: Too many people on the committee

Building a Camel when you wanted a Horse

We all talk about the value and virtues of team work.  But, what happens when a bunch of people all have to be satisfied  and any decision becomes watered down to please everyone?  There is something so different about getting input from those who have expertise or a stake in the project from everyone having to agree.  Trite expressions like “too many cooks spoil the broth” come to mind when too many people are actually involved in the decision itself.

Getting input from others is so valuable – but the fewer people involved in the actual decision, the better.  This is true about a great many things, including interviewing prospective new employees.

I’ve been involved in the process of being a finalist in contract negotiations watching the difference between organizations where someone in charge makes the actual decision, and organizations where the “team” or “committee” makes the decision.  In the later case, you have to please everyone and so the less outstanding or unique or controversial you are, the better off you are.  In the first case, the person or group hired is most often the best of the companies under consideration.

Compromise always – well, maybe almost always – yields something less than what is truly desirable.  The most obvious example of course is the decision to merge black and white and get unwanted gray.  

I can’t write this without recalling the young professional couple who compromised on the selection of their new car.  She wanted a station wagon (this was years ago) so she could transport a bunch of kids to all their activities.  He wanted a big red convertible as his gift to himself for becoming a successful professional.   They could have easily afforded both.  Instead they made a compromise and bought a four door sedan and neither was happy.

So, if you want a horse – a beautiful sleek thoroughbred – get an expert who knows how to build your horse, don’t have everyone in the building involved in adding their good ideas and watch the lumps start to form.

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