Robbert's Rules Of Order

(Salim Virani) #1

I’m only loosely familiar with Robert’s Rules. Like when someone interjects to make a “point of order.” Or the idea that someone can make a motion, and it will only continue if there is a ‘seconder’ in the room.

I looked them up for the first time last week, after someone suggested them to improve the chaotic meetings of forming industry organization. They’re named after a US Army officer who wrote up the practices of US Congress for broader community use in 1876.

Here’s a cheatsheet for the Robert’s Rules based on the 1915 version. I noticed a few that I already use when facilitating, but without the Robert’s Rules shorthand or jargon:

The member moving the “immediately pending question” is entitled to preference to the floor!
No member can speak twice to the same issue until everyone else wishing to speak has spoken to it once!

Even more formal Robert’s Rules procedures, like starting with a review of the last meeting, then moving onto reports followed by clarification questions before moving onto proposals. I realised these are echoed in our own formats, like the hands-on Fixer format where someone with a challenge delegates it to an interdisciplinary group to solve.

There are versions of Robert’s Rules for different specializations, like law-making or trade unions, and the rules can get somewhat complex depending on the size and purpose of the assembly, and what degree of consent or actionability are desired.

I’m not a fan of boring meetings, especially the kind where people can drone on and on on a pedestal, so tend to rely on simpler rules like Roman Voting, but those tend to work better in smaller groups.

I think Robert’s Rules can be unpacked into various facilitation and democratic principles, and used in more modern, even casual, forms. I offered to facilitate the next meetings for this industry association. I’m interested to see if I can facilitate meetings with the principles and order of Robert’s Rules without requiring the people in the meeting to have studied them in advance.

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