Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Reading :: Robert's Rules of Order

Originally posted: Tue, 13 Dec 2005 10:52:52

Robert's Rules of Order (Newly Revised, 10th Edition)

by Henry M. Robert III, William J. Evans, Daniel H. Honemann, Thomas J. Balch (Editor)

Yes, you've heard of this one even if you haven't read it. Nearly every organization uses (or sorta-kinda uses) these rules to govern their deliberations. We certainly do in my department. And after four years of listening to our chair and parliamentarian making motions and correcting ? well ? mine, I decided that I really should become conversant with them.

I'm glad that I did. Robert's rules of order are really fascinating. They provide a procedural framework for governing and regulating deliberations, something that is vital so that organizations don't make decisions rashly, ride roughshod over minority factions, or revisit decisions ad infinitum. The rules are detailed and cover an incredible number of permutations, as you might expect from rules that have been evolving as long as they have.

What really got me interested, though, was when I began thinking of Robert's Rules of Order as a rhetoric text. It sets the ground rules to which interested parties agree so that they can productively deliberate, and the rules themselves also become evidence for meta-arguments about procedure. It would be fascinating to teach a class with this as the text, although I don't anticipate teaching that class.

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