“I’ve searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees.”
The line above has been attributed to Gilbert K. Chesterton; plus, variations of the phrase have been tied to David Ogilvy, among others. Regardless of the originator, the notion is worth examining, especially in today’s advertising and marketing arena.
The rise of digital has ignited use of the word collaboration, usually mouthed by annoying assholes seeking to inspire or mandate team unity. Yet in most instances, what’s called collaboration is really nothing more than committeeism—an increasingly familiar phenomenon in hackneyed enterprises.
True collaboration happens when teammates use their individual skills and expertise to collectively achieve a common goal. Supporting, sharing and supplementing are present throughout the endeavor. Boundaries may be crossed, but trespassing is done with recognition and respect for roles. Everyone ultimately helps each other perform better.
True committeeism happens when teammates are ignorant to the basic concept of teamwork. Even if individual skills and expertise exist, the players fail to collectively achieve a common goal—and the goal is often not clearly defined from jump. Stumbling, stutter steps, spinning directions and secret agendas poison the endeavor. Boundaries are erased as everyone seeks to handle the same responsibilities, whether qualified or not. There are too many cooks—and bad ones at that—in the kitchen. Multiple egos want to assume leadership, and each person ultimately contributes to the chaos.
Authentic collaborators rarely use the term collaboration—they just do it. Committee drones insert collaboration into every other sentence.
Collaboration creates breakthroughs. Committeeism creates bullshit.