The Problem With Decision By Committee

Because I’ve been super-busy with a client, I’ve not been able to devote as much time to marketing Storming of Thunder Ridge, the charitable cycling event here in Central Virginia that raises funds for the YMCA of Central Virginia’s Community Support Campaign.

(Actually, I’ve been to trade show purgatory where it apprears I own a timeshare…)

To fill the void, the event director for SOTR has formed a committee as a sounding board to improve the event. In theory, that’s a good move. In practice, it’s been ineffective.

Strike One

Right out of the starting blocks, a key problem is that the committee is homogeneous. What I mean by that is that we’re all badasses who either race or log ridiculous miles year after year.

That profile hardly includes perspective and insight to a casual cyclist who is contemplating his first century ride. Or my cousin, who recently kicked cancer’s ass and now wants to conquer the 27 mile ride on her old clunky bike.

The stuff that we take for granted may be a big issue for a less hardcore rider. And that’s why you’ve got to have participants with diverse backgrounds on a committee if you want to achieve effective outcomes.

Strike Two

We’ve got too many participants on the committee. In a recent meeting, I had to laugh as person after person walked through the door to the room in which we were meeting, causing seated members to keep having to swing around the table to make room for the others. And then we ran out of chairs…

During the meeting, only a minority actively participated – including yours truly.

I’m not going to get into a debate on introverts and extroverts, but if you’re going to have a committee, then you need to draw out the participants and involve them. And, if you’re going to be be a committee member, then you need to engage. One person said nothing the whole meeting!

The moral, I believe, is to keep the number of committee members to a minimum and choose those who are prepared to engage.

Strike Three

The committee is focused on the wrong things. Instead of brainstorming on how to grow the number of riders, we spent an inordinate amount of time fussing over the ride jersey.

Should it be blue? Should it be red? Should it be yellow?

Next came the design critics… Can we make this the radar tower look bigger? Can we put a bicycle image in it? Which sponsors should we print on the rear pockets?

Sorry, but when you ask 12 people their opinion on something as subjective as a jersey, you’re going to get 12 different answers. Better to make the decision among a couple sounding-boards and move on.

Again, engage the participants, who possess diverse backgrounds, to figure out how to attract more riders. Because the goal here is about raising funds, not designing the perfect jersey.

Enough Already!

Okay, here’s the good news… As of today, there are 83 riders registered. Which is a bunch more than we had last year at this time. Heck, we hadn’t even launched the website by March 9 in 2011!

Plus, brochures and promotional posters have been printed and will be distributed to target locations next week.

Still, I’m cognizant that we’re in need of 400+ more riders to meet our goal of 500 registered riders. The next 72 days will require a big push, so if you’re a cyclist who isn’t afraid of a little climbing, please register. $45 is a deal for a fully-supported ride that includes a shirt and other goodies!

Now, for you marketers and event planners, what do you think about steering committees – effective or ineffective? Let me know in the comments section.

Thanks for reading!

(Image: National Assembly For Wales / Cynulliad)


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  1. #1 by bgddyjim on March 9, 2012 - 2:14 pm

    For the smaller tasks, such as jersey design, form a subcommittee. Have a group of four or five hash out the details and present a few designs to the full board – that whittles down the egos. Just make sure to limit discussion to a set amount of time lest you get the babblers going on about every little detail and how they would have done it.

    Just a thought. I belong to a steering committee and that’s how we roll. Good luck.

    • #2 by Mike Collado on March 9, 2012 - 2:29 pm

      Agreed. Sometimes it’s best not to create a democracy 🙂

  2. #3 by bgddyjim on March 9, 2012 - 2:52 pm

    Representative republics are where it’s at my friend… I checked out your design too and it’s fantastic. I wish I could make it down there for the ride, it seems like it would be a lot of fun, alas I’ll be in mid IM 70.3 training at that point so that’s just not practicable. Good luck.

    • #4 by Mike Collado on March 9, 2012 - 3:20 pm

      Central Virginia is an awesome place to ride… climbing, descents, rollers, flats. Tell your friends about the ride. And good luck with your event! Thanks!

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