Back in college I edited the student newspaper, so I was always sniffing around campus for juicy rumors.
One of my favorite sources for stories was the “faculty senate”—a giant monthly committee meeting where all the professors would get together to debate college policies.
Now the reason I liked going to faculty senate was NOT because anything actually got done there.
Because even though 50% or more of the attendees had PhDs, and the average IQ in that room was probably 20-30 points higher than average, I can’t remember a single major decision that got made in all those deliberations.
Here’s how a typical meeting would go:
One of the professors would stand up and raise a point for discussion, say a modest change to the “core” classes that all students had to take.
Then other “senators” debate the topic from every conceivable angle, making articulate, well-reasoned arguments for their positions.
This would continue for an hour or more, and then someone would raise a “point of order” about how the senate president was moderating the discussion…
That would send the “parliamentarian” scurrying for his dog-eared copy of Roberts Rules of Order.
They’d spend another 10-20 minutes DEBATING how to DEBATE.
Finally, since all this was happening at 4:45 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, tummies would start to rumble…
And someone would move to table the discussion—which was basically a mercy killing at that point.
All very entertaining for this political science major and aspiring investigative journalist—but not very productive.
And looking back, not terribly surprising.
When it comes to taking action, committees are DEATH.
That’s because the more information and points of view you introduce, the less likely it is that anyone will take action.
I see a lot of email courses that trigger this same kind of “committee paralysis” in would-be customers.
By piling too much information onto your subscribers, you can trigger their “internal committee.”
This committee loves to debate everything from every conceivable angle…
But in the end, it almost always votes to defer the decision indefinitely…
It’s a balancing act for sure.
Too little information and they won’t believe you’re credible and trustworthy…
Too much, and you’ll look up hours later and wonder how on earth you got sucked into this endless debate, and oh look at that it’s dinner time.