Insight from a Board Member: Death of the Committee

This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series Insight from a Board Member

There are times when risk of fitna is so great: when the need for a multidisciplinary team or a large network of people arises, the use of a committee is both necessary and useful. Most of the time, if you want to kill or delay a project, you assign it to a committee. By doing so, however, you have ensured that very little will happen.

The better tool for getting things done –events, programs, tasks, responsibilities— is a point person. A good point person can rapidly sift through the complexities of a job and make decisions and resolve action items. This streamlining will allow a lot of work to get done in a very quick manner without the frustration of unnecessary and fruitless discussion.

The main concern when assigning a point person is that it should be someone with adequate talent, resources and judgment, and bandwidth to deliver. This person should be someone the entire community feels comfortable with in relation to the task at hand (or at least is not opposed to this person.) The board should feel comfortable with this person’s capability and should give this person the appropriate amount of authority to deliver. (Control is a whole other blog.)

Contrast this method to a committee who will rarely meet, will go down endless rabbit trails, will struggle to reach consensus – and if they do, will take at least twice as long to deliver. Plus, if you need accountability, who is ultimately responsible? Though it is imperative that we must be able to work in groups and collaborate, many projects do not need a committee; rather, they need a point person.

Examples where a point person is preferable include maintenance, public relations, dawaa, Weekend Islamic School, programming, and social events.

Good examples where a committee is absolutely appropriate to safeguard from a fitna, or where the wisdom of the group is appropriate are Imam search, Shura Boards as a whole, long-term vision, acquisition of new facilities or major renovations, and other very large events. The purpose of the committee is to prevent a bad decision from moving forward, or to add multiple points of view to the discussion. This degree of discussion is not always appropriate or necessary.

Limit the use of committees to only those functions where they are necessary. Instead, find a capable person to deliver on any specific core process. Make sure they are talented and give them space, authority, and an appropriate level of resources.

Series Navigation<< Insight from a Board Member: Pocket of ExcellenceInsight from a Board Member: Fitnah Meter >>
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One Comment on ““Insight from a Board Member: Death of the Committee”

  1. Iman Kouvalis

    Very useful article, especially the examples citing when to use a point person and when to use a committee.  I’m definitely in favour of being cautious with committees.  Too many mishaps of not setting them up properly.  I will pass on to my clients if/when this issue comes up. 

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