One of the most popular questions we get asked by our clients is, “After successfully creating a fear-based culture, what are the best ways to sustain fear?”. Always remember, sustaining fear will be harder and more time consuming than creating fear. And maintaining a healthy fear-based culture demands a softer hand than the iron fist that sparked the original fear. We find that our clients who have cultivated a thriving long-term fear-based culture spend an average of 28% of their time creating fear and 72% of their time sustaining it. The leaders we admire the most have crafted an environment where their people’s paralyzing fears like, fear of change, fear of failure, and fear of rejection are heard and supported. Their conference rooms are bubbling with activity, ideas are being generated, and yet none of the ideas are ever judged or adopted. Every single employee feels like they are never under the unnecessary pressure to support any specific idea. The tool that powers this Shangri-La of fear is called, The Committee.
Committees are where the fearful feel the most comfortable being their most fearful selves. It is where stupid questions can be asked and yet never get questioned for being stupid. Where white boards get to be written upon with a rainbow of markers without judgement of what gets written. And, above all, where no one is ever held accountable to make any sort of decisions. Committees allow your team to do busy business things like, “brainstorm” and have “breakout sessions” and “pile on” and have “a scrum” and “circle back” and feel accomplished without accomplishing anything of value.
We have found that the best way to start is by creating a half dozen committees each with a different focus. Make the names of the committees as vague as possible like, “team innovation” and “inspiration council”. Then staff the committees with a minimum of 25 to 40 people. This will get your people excited because nothing calms a fearful person than getting to hide in a large group. Their excitement will lead to the need for multiple “war rooms” where the walls will become covered with random lists of words made on big post-Its, each accompanied by a cascade of little multicolored post-Its. We recommend that you make it a habit of swinging by the different war rooms and say something like, “I’m not here. I’m just a fly on the wall.” Enjoy the fear your presence creates, as the teams clam up, fearing they will make a mistake in front of you. You will be witnessing the best committees have to offer. The staff is getting to be their most fearful selves while discovering immeasurable comfort in the busyness, and you will be basking in the joy of knowing their ideas will lead to nothing.
When you begin to notice a committee has run its course, gather their findings, and form an oversight committee to judge the committee’s results. The inspiring outcome of all your committee’s hard work is a mobius strip of committees where your team will feel they are always busy ruminating over the company’s problems without ever having to do anything to solve them. But don’t take our word for it, form your own committee to study the importance of committees.
If you would like to learn more about the magical powers of committees, please reach out to our Chief Fear Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org