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Committed Teams by Derek Newberry, Madeline Boyer, Mario Moussa

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Chapter 9Why Are We Here? Engaging Committees

The chair of the search committee enters the conference room carrying a small, black, cardboard box. As though it were a sacred relic, he places it carefully on the table and steps back, gazing in turn at each member of the committee.

“What's with the box?” we ask ourselves. Aside from the chair, everyone seems as confused as we are.

The chair brings everyone to attention. “Let us begin,” he intones, like a clergyman. “We are going to have a vote.” He opens the box and pulls out a stack of note cards. He prepares to distribute them. Over the years, in leading the nonprofit board, he has developed a well-deserved reputation for meticulous planning, and he clearly knows what he wants to do this evening.

Slowly we begin to understand the situation. Then suddenly it all makes sense: the chair has decided to use a vote to conclude, once and for all, a painful, contentious search for a new executive director.

Our fellow committee members seem to have reached the same conclusion. Sitting to our left, Carol begins to raise her hand, which floats in mid-air. A managing partner at a major consulting firm, she is a nationally prominent expert on hiring processes. But at the moment she looks puzzled about this hiring process. “A vote? What vote?” she asks as her hand hovers over her papers.

“We have debated long enough. We need to move on. It is time to make a decision about a candidate,” replies the chair.

“I thought we were going to make a ...

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