The Cult of Committee

The Cult of Committee by Barbara Kiviat in Time Magazine.

Interesting piece on group decision making in an investment firm.

  • “There are a zillion independent variables, and it’s very hard for one person to think about them all.”
  • “When an analyst thinks a company is something Dodge & Cox would be
    well advised to hold for five years, the analyst makes the case to an
    investment-policy committee.”
  • “It’s not a strict vote…The process…is like
    taking the temperature of the room.”
  • “That ability to make complex strategic decisions collectively requires
    an almost Benedictine devotion to corporate togetherness, starting with
    physical space.”
  • “Dodge & Cox has also found there to be an important structural
    element to team decision making. “Committees react best to a specific
    proposition,” says Bryan Cameron, director of research and a member of
    the committees that pick domestic and foreign stocks. So when analysts
    make a presentation, they propose a particular course of
    action–increasing the percentage of Wal-Mart from 2% of the portfolio
    to 2.2%, say. The analyst advocates, and the committee
    meditates–somewhat like a jury.”

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