When the committee decides

They’re almost always conservative. Whether it’s a governmental body, the strategy group at a big company or the membership panel at the local country club, we can learn a lot by seeing what they approve and when they stall.

Of course, each of us know a lot about our offering, the change we seek to make and why it’s better. It’s easy to believe that, “If I were you I’d pick this obvious, rational choice…” and pitch accordingly.

But they’re not you. They’re the committee. And the committee almost never makes what outsiders might say is the ‘right’ decision, instead they choose what’s right for them, now.

And that is usually a combination of:

Persistence. A new idea is almost never embraced right away. It might take years. It’s easier to wait to see who will be there tomorrow than to grab what’s here today.

Urgency. Advance planning is clearly the smart move, but with fear, risk avoidance, and competing priorities, it’s the urgent that is often put on the agenda.

Affiliation. “What will our peers say?” is an unspoken but powerful force. Everyone else, or the appearance of everyone else has a huge impact.

WIFM. Not a radio station, but the truth that each person choosing begins with concern about what’s in it for them. It might be status, affiliation, avoidance of fear or a simple desire (or a complex one).

Compromise. It’s a committee, after all. Group acceptance of a small benefit might be seen as better than a bigger benefit that’s divisive.

Status. There are the status roles within the committee (who suggested this, who will benefit the most from this) and the status roles the committee sees within the organization and across organizations. Moving up (or not falling behind) is at the forefront of many decisions.

A better idea has little chance in the face of these forces.

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