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Committees and Teams: There is a Big Difference

By February 17, 2014Team Development

The following article is taken from “The Exquisite and Ever so Rare art of Group Facilitation”

Committees as Opposed to Teams

Most large companies have committees, not teams.

The leaders of those companies like to think they have an executive “team”, but alas, that simply might not be the case.

I have found that most leaders tend to confuse committees and teams.

For instance, the American congress works on a committee and a subcommittee system, not teams.

What is the difference?

On a committee, you have several people.

At the executive level, you might have the V.P. of Finance, the V.P. of Sales, the V.P. of Marketing, the V.P. of R and D and so forth.

A committee looks like this.


This isn’t always the case, but some of them get goals and bonuses, while some don’t.

They are truly a committee because some of them can win, while some of them don’t win.

This of course, creates a competition.

In a committee, people only share information, resources, money and insights to the degree that they can comfortably, or have to because of a dire ct order.

And even when they have a direct order, they may not do it or merely pay it lip service.

They might prevaricate.

We often, especially as consultants, accuse a group of being dysfunctional, the team is not getting along well, and the team is not coalescing or not being productive.

It was never designed to be a team.

It is a committee.

Congressional committees have Democrats and Republicans on every one.

They were never designed to be a team.

You can’t team-build a committee.

Because a committee is not a team.

What does a Team Look Like?


So What is a Team?

The diagram above describes what a team looks like.

A team occurs when A, B, C and D not only work with each other but for each other to the attainment of a particular set of goals.

They, the members of the team are all together, encapsulated as one.

They win or lose, together.

They reach their goal together, or they don’t.

If everybody doesn’t win, nobody wins.

So no matter how successful A is, if B, C and D are not also successful, we, the team, are not going to reach our goal.

This means that it is incumbent on me as A to give them information, money, insight and so forth and share, because if they are not successful, I am not successful.


Not All Organizations Need Teams


And certainly not in every case.

It depends on the task at hand.

For instance, Basketball type situations clearly need a team approach.

The leaders’ first step is to decide whether the task at hand requires a team or a committee.

In other words, which is most needed?

Usually, at the executive level, (Football), a true team, where everybody wins, is not necessarily or always what you want.

Sometimes, the Rand D V.P. will not be able to commercialize five new products as promised but sales will still meet its’ goals.

As a general rule, committees are forever; teams should (often) start and end.

They often are formed to address a single issue or to complete a project.

Teams usually are self directed; they decide how they work, they decide how they are compensated, they decide their work rules and they decide when to sunset.

So Remember, Teams and Committees are not the Same

They are not one and the same.

They have different interests.

So you first question to ask is, “Are we trying to team build a team, or is it a committee?”

This brief article is from “The Exquisite and ever so Rare Art of Group Facilitation”.

It addresses the issue about how to facilitate teams, not committees.

In it, you will find the answer as to what does a good group process look like and how do you get one?


For more on this topic, we recommend the following


The Exquisite and Ever so Rare
Art of Group Facilitation

How to Help Your Group Exceed Your Expectations

Click Here For Video and Full Description


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