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Mar 26, 201409:51 AMOpen for Business

with Jody Glynn Patrick

Lessons learned serving (hard time) on a church committee

(page 2 of 2)

Long debates over insignificant details drove me crazy. I asked to be transferred to the program committee, but I didn’t fare any better there. I’m far too mindful of losing hours that I can’t ever get back, nor do I want to take a seat from someone who wants to be in it. I volunteered for some solo projects, but eventually I simply faded away. I felt I too often disappointed the congregation with my refusal to consider committee work. I wasn’t being hired to do board development, after all, nor were earlier attempts to streamline or reprioritize items particularly appreciated.

Later, I attended a neighborhood association meeting; that was even more agonizing. But the worst was an experience testifying at a Madison City Council meeting. The council is highly susceptible to the Bike Rack Effect but paradoxically immune to the effects of Parkinson’s Law.

I don’t think businesspeople shun public service or association meetings or even church obligations because they don’t care or don’t have time. However, I do think a business background has provided many of us with a different time orientation. Though an hour is an hour, with fixed second and minute units, it doesn’t feel like an hour when the discussion topic is root beer floats versus lemonade. It feels like an eternity.

That’s my theory. What’s yours?

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Mar 28, 2014 06:18 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Interesting thoughts. I do think one issue might be the kind of people who serve on the committee. In a business, there are generally two kinds of people: the interactive, social, idea-generating people, and the quiet, organized, detail-oriented people who don't come up with the ideas but make the ideas happen. With voluntary boards, I suspect you get too many of the social, idea-generating people and not enough organized, detail-oriented people to say "ok, we've discussed this and this and this. Let's vote on it." Yes, committees and boards can drive you crazy!

Mar 28, 2014 07:12 am
 Posted by  Linda Abbott

Great post Jody! So true and in your telling, entertaining. Interesting to learn of Parkinson's Law and The Bike Rack Effect, I've seen this in my personal and professional life, especially as a journalist when I used to cover government meetings like plan commissions and village boards. One solution is a facilitator -- a business professional would be great choice -- who keeps things focused, on track and on time!

Mar 28, 2014 11:30 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Entertaining and thought provoking as usual Jody! I have served on several church committees and have been frustrated with the process. Too many "church ladies", both male and female, unrelentingly clutch their little bit of power to the detriment of progress. When allocating large dollars, their are plenty of people involved to assume the responsibility. However, no one can mess with their corner of expertise, especially a newcomer, because they are used to doing things their way, and won't change. I have withdrawn from all church committee involvement and feel my time is put to better use. As a bonus, I am less frustrated and much happier.

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