Selection or Election?
Selection or Election?
In general there are two ways in which Hall of Fame honorees are named, either through a selection committee process or an election process. Each offers advantages and each has drawbacks. It is up to an organization to determine which process makes the most sense for it at the present time, but it may wish at some future time to alter its process, so regular evaluation is important.
The selection committee process offers some good advantages:
- Generally the committee is small and the management of selection is easy to maintain,
- The members of the committee are generally familiar with the contributions of the nominees and have personal knowledge of the many facets a committee may wish to consider as part of the honor,
- Cost of the process is usually free or very minimal, and
- The outcome is generally well received.
However, there are negatives to the selection committee process that must be acknowledged and/or guarded against:
- A committee process can be seen as closed and, consequently, the results tainted,
- The committee may not do its homework and truly evaluate the nominees,
- A small group can lapse into “group-think” mode and also not truly evaluate the nominees,
- A committee can be dominated by one or two personalities who can skew the results, and
- A small circle in the selection could reduce its public and/or media impact.
Elections also have both advantages and drawbacks. The advantages are:
- A larger voting pool than a selection committee, minimizing personal bias and domination by a single or few personalities,
- Generally an election process involves media in some form, providing a built in public and/or media presence to the ballot announcement, the election announcement and the induction,
- Creates more than one opportunity to distribute press releases about the election, and
- Is usually an outcome accepted as truly representative.
Drawbacks, however, also exist:
- An election generally increases the cost of the process,
- Management of an election process can make significant time demands in preparation and in receipt of the election materials, and
- The time period over which an election takes place will be longer than a selection process.
My judgment is that the object of the organization’s Hall of Fame helps to determine which process is more appropriate. The more a group is interested in publicity, the more important it is to have an open and transparent process that media can believe has credibility. A closed group may work well in a community, school/college, or local organization’s process, but the larger the area the Hall of Fame covers the more important to also widen the process.
Regardless of the process chosen, an organization must be vigilant to make sure there is credibility behind those they honor. If cronyism or “in-group” rewards appear to occur, the honor will decline in value as the credibility crumbles.