Homelessness Has Never Been Ended in a Committee

On more than a few occasions lately I have been in meetings with Coordinated Entry Committees, Community Advisory Committees, Assessment Committees, Steering Committees, Executive Committees, Implementation Committees, Evaluation Committees, etc. that have a local responsibility for providing direction to ending homelessness. I am at the end of my patience with committees.

Let me say this again as clearly as I possibly can: homelessness has never been ended in a committee.

There is an awesome website called www.despair.com that creates de-motivational posters. If you understand my sarcasm and humor, you’ll appreciate why I love this website so much. Here is my favorite poster on the website:



(In fairness, they also say this about blogging.) The point? I am amazed how much energy goes into committees when the same energy does not go into implementation.

In my mind there is good process and dumb-ass process.

Good process is people rapidly figuring out how to do something, try it, make mistakes, learn, tweak, improve, evaluate, tweak some more, make more mistakes, learn, improve, etc. Good process is the art of doing.

Dumb-ass process is people trying to figure out how to keep everyone happy without making any decisions. When push comes to shove there is another committee to be formed. And every decision made in a committee (if there are any decisions made) have to come back to the Committee of the Whole where they can be rejected and sent back to committee again. Dumb-ass process is reinventing the wheel instead of using evidence and data already available. Dumb-ass process is thinking you need another study to prove what has already been proven time and time again. Dumb-ass process is confusing consultation with consensus. Dumb-ass process is seeking perfection on paper before ever doing anything.

Next time someone suggests another committee demand that you have an action-team instead of a committee. Be charged with the task of execution because that is the discipline of getting things done. Refuse to accept that sitting around a table will end homelessness.

If you do not focus more time on action than committees you might as well just announce that you have much work to do before you can announce your total failure to make any progress. And then form a committee to figure out why that happened.

About Iain De Jong

Iain is a playful nerd, hellbent on ending homelessness, increasing affordable housing, creating vibrant communities, and expanding the knowledge amongst leaders that influence social issues. Having held senior management and professional positions in government, non-profits, and the private sector, Iain has a wealth of experience and has garnered dozens of awards for his work across Canada and internationally. His work has taken him across Canada, the United States, and to Australia. In 2009, Iain joined OrgCode as its President & CEO, and in 2014 assumed full ownership of the firm. In addition to his work with OrgCode, Iain holds a part-time faculty position in the Graduate Urban Planning Programme at York University.

Be the first to comment on this article

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.