Two is company, three is a committee

Hakam Cocktail.jpg

Hakam cocktail

Stir one measure dry gin and one measure Italian (sweet) vermouth, a half measure of Curaçao, and a dash of bitters into a chilled cocktail glass. Add a cherry and serve.

I have an affinity for classic cocktails, so was thrilled to be gifted with a 1940 Old Mr. Boston bartender’s guide to accompany my far more modern guide. I dug into the dusty tome and sifted through the flips, fizzes, slings, and swizzles for something simple but tasty. Here I found the Hakam cocktail, pictured above. As I tasted it, I thought “I’ve had this before.” I dug through the more recent guide and found no reference to the Hakam, but found the Martinez, substantially the same but with French (dry) instead of Italian vermouth. It got me thinking of other cocktails that had been rebranded with only a slight alteration, then it got me thinking of work.

If you’re part of an organization, chances are you’ve seen this: a committee of top performers get together to create a program to improve some aspect of the organization. It could be a wellness program, could be a social responsibility project, could be any number of things. Despite their best efforts, both in development and their execution, the project failed to meet expectations. That group reconvenes, takes a look at what went right and what went wrong, and puts out a very similar program, with maybe a couple different elements, which again fails. Eventually, the committee makes the determination that the lower-performing personnel are the problem.

Therein lies the problem: that committee is going to tailor a program to their own talents and self-interests. Of course they’re going to thrive even in a failing program. More to the point, others will fail when a program is pushed on them without soliciting their input. These programs are disruptive by nature and especially so for those who have to adapt. The chasm between top performers and the “rest” widens.

When developing a committee, look beyond the top of each department. Bring in those who NEED to benefit most from a successful program. Stagger terms so you can rotate in fresh perspectives without starting from scratch. Ensure each committee member is engaging personnel to ensure many perspectives are reaching the committee table. Solicit feedback from non-committee personnel and integrate that feedback into the meetings.

Have you ever been on a committee that worked? What made it exceptional?

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