As Black Friday looms in the near future and the holiday rush kicks into full swing, I thought I would join the call of those wishing to “keep it simple”, but with a different spin. How do you keep it simple in your meetings or in the boardroom?
Those of you familiar with my approach to Robert’s Rules of Order know that my philosophy is to keep it simple. Robert’s Rules become intimidating and unworkable for most groups when the group tries to deal with the minutia of the kinds of pitched battles associated with, say, a filibuster in the U.S. Senate. Robert’s Rules is designed to handle these situations, certainly, but the details of the rules can be overkill for groups that operate on more of a consensus basis. An understanding of, and adherence to, some basic rules will serve most groups. It will also greatly aid group productivity, and it will reduce or remove the intimidation factor.
Six Rules to Simplify Robert’s Rules
To me, the key rules that groups, especially governing boards, need to operate effectively are these:
- Follow the agenda and revise it by formal motion, so that the work of the group is not hijacked by personal or minority agendas.
- Know your motions. Separating potentially viable motions from those that are not viable, requires a motion and a second, before debate can occur on a motion or amendment.
- Require a vote of the group (“move the previous question”) to close debate. This protects the rights of the minority to make their points.
- Use amendments to get the motion crafted the way you want it, based on what unfolds in debate by the group.
- Use the consent agenda to optimize your use of time so you can focus on the desired topics — rather than receiving reports about what has already happened, or repeating the work of committees.
- Require a neutral chair. For the meeting to run smoothly, the chairman must maintain neutrality and fairness in calling on members to speak, so the decisions will be supported by the group after they leave the meeting.
We have had several questions from clients in the past on some of the details of working this out. “Can’t we just discuss issues without having a motion on the floor?”, “Should we include opinions expressed by members in the minutes?”, etc.
What questions do you have?
E-mail me or call toll free at 877-276-4414. I would be happy to help. Overall, keep it simple!