Rule of 7s – the Events Committee

I have a feeling this will be a saga comprising many episodes. It has taken me a little while to get to the point of being able to describe sufficiently the frustration I feel at each of the meetings I go to – but let me set the scene for you.

The Events Committee is a collection of individuals who belong to a voluntary organisation I spend a lot of time with, who have come together to organise two events each year, and some years three. Each event is for a specific purpose and to a greater or lesser extent follows EXACTLY the same process year on year.

The history of the events in question harks back about 60 years, so there’s nothing very new in what we’re doing, but sadly, like the people who organise it, the events are tired, ancient and could do with having the kiss of life. I was co-opted onto the committe – I maintain – under false pretences, but its easy to see why they did it. Imagine a bunch of old women at a WI meeting chatting about jam and scones, and you’re pretty close. One old biddy is going on and on about how many gingham jam-tops to make, and whether she should have any plain white ones this year as well, and the other is nodding and periodically asking for other people to contribute to the discussion, but no-one will, because the group are trying to organise the whole church fete, not just the bloody jam-tops. Its pretty much the same thing.

I have tried to be one of the ‘new blood’, coming in with a fresh look, new ideas, confidence and enthusiasm, hoping collectively with some of my newer colleagues that we can bring the Events of 2008 into the 21st century. I have attended dilligently, I have contributed, I have given my opinion and argued my corner for change that has to happen, lest the Events themselves die a death. I have taken on work beyond my remit, and provided a platform upon which other things can be built…..

And yet, we still keep going back to the jam tops.

My enthusiasm is waning. I still attend, but I am battling against an inner apathy. So far little of it has been on show, but I know its there in my heart. There are only so many times you can hear “Well, what we normally do is….”  without it affecting you.

I found myself remembering my old studies into teamwork (I’m a psychology graduate on the quiet – but don’t let that put you off), and remembered the magic number 7. I can’t remember who proved it (I’d be grateful if you could help me remember, folks!), but generally, if a group consisted of 7 or less people, decisions got made and the group could achieve. As soon as the group got bigger than 7 members, it became fragmented, and sub-groups formed, obstructing the group’s progress and generally causing unnecessary disputes, seriously affecting the effectiveness of the team.

The events team often consists of 9 people or more, and on days when the full committee can be there, we often get less done then when there are 5 of us. Co-incidence? You be the judge.  

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2 Responses to “Rule of 7s – the Events Committee”


  1. 1 hoverfrog 25 March 2008 at 11:54 am

    That explains a lot. I’ve always found that groups of three are most effective. It has to be the right three, of course. Two people of differing strengths and weaknesses and one person to make sure that they don’t argue. Nine is two many. Shoot four of them. I’d suggest shooting half of them but that just wouldn’t work. How big is the full committee?

  2. 2 E 27 March 2008 at 9:12 pm

    That’s funny, because our PBLs were always 8 or 9 people. It’s like the faculty read the studies and then thought, oh well, we’ll making med school *that* much harder on them and throw in an extra person 🙂

    Hope your foot is still feeling good.


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