Associations love teams and committees. It seems like every day, I see association clients forming a new working group, team or committee for some special purpose. In a world where collaboration and shared wisdom are critical, it is often imperative to bring together a diverse group of brains that share a common goal.
Because we have started so many working groups, the natural reaction is to get to work and skip the boring process of hammering out our mandate and terms of reference. It’s really just process and adds no value, right? Wrong, establishing a clear mandate, scope, boundaries and powers before your team dives into content is the most worthwhile investment you can make in your group’s success. Getting the ground rules in place does not need to be fancy…it just needs to be formal. If you just want to cover the basics before you get started, answer these simple questions:
- What can this group do, that no other group or individual can do alone? (Hint: if you can’t answer this question, disband your group immediately)
- What powers and authority does this group actually have?
- What are the range of specific topics and issues that are in the scope of what we will discuss?
- What are the topics and issues that are out of our scope?
- How will we get work done between meetings?
- How will communication flow into and out of this group specifically? Who is accountable?
- What do we need to do specifically to ensure no of us are wasting our time attending meetings?
- How will we measure success of the work of this group specifically? What are the indications that the group is not working?
If these questions make you remotely nervous, don’t form the group.