One pitfall of standing committees is that they can begin to see themselves as mini boards of directors for the function or program within their purview. Politicized rather than strategic resource allocation becomes the norm. When committees start to exhibit the characteristics of feudal fiefdoms coherent strategy becomes the victim. One early warning sign of this cultural dysfunction is refusal to honor term limits.
Standing committees are maintained as necessary. Usually they are subcommittees of the board (nominating, audit, etc.) or managing specific technical activities like standards, credentialing, or dispute resolution that require institutional memory.
Associations should consider what their committees are designed to do. We have seen many associations have success in organizing “action teams” around strategies with an outcome to be achieved and have avoided or at least mitigated this problem.
When the work is done, team members return to the talent pool. We find this becoming an increasingly attractive organizing principle. Gen y and Gen x both exhibit little interest in committees working on organizational operations like bylaws or budget. They typically prefer work groups co-creating solutions to issues that really matter to them.