Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Should We Rely on Robert's Rules of Order?

From BoardSource, Knowledge Center:
Should We Rely on Robert’s Rules of Order When Running Our Board Meetings?

Every meeting – including board meetings – needs a format and guidelines. However, few boards can function efficiently by following Robert’s Rules to the letter. Robert’s Rules of Order was originally created as the manual for parliamentarians to better structure official assembly meetings – not for small nonprofit boards focusing on making wise and educated decisions for their organizations. When major efforts go toward ensuring that the process is impeccably structured and legally indestructible, the board is inviting discontent and easily spends more energy on the process than the results.

The basic elements of the parliamentary procedure can form the foundation for board decision making, yet discussion and deliberation benefit from a more freewheeling approach. The board chair is in a key position to make sure that all board members participate, all aspects of an issue are covered, and a general understanding of the outcomes is respected. When normal communication methods fail, there are several more flexible and less tedious guides than Robert’s Rules of Order to serve as a reference during an impasse in the boardroom. Any well-stocked bookstore is worth perusing.


Kathy Grochow, NRS, St. Cloud

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