Thursday, March 26, 2009

Meetings and Governance

I have had several meetings this week. Big volunteer led, policy setting type meetings. As I look back on them, I see two things that would have made the meetings much better.

First, is clearer governance. It would have been great if all parties at each meeting were familiar with the current policies and governance areas. I don't blame them for not being familiar though. We have done a poor job of organizing them in an easy to read and understand manner, as well as updating them as times have changed.

Do yourself and your volunteers a favor. Put everything in plain English in easy to find places on your website. And don't be late on updating documents and policies as they need it. Change is easier incrementally.

The second issue I had was the use of Robert's Rules. Being near the center of government, it seems as if I have too many people in meetings who know Robert's Rules. However, I think these ancient rules sometimes hinder actually getting things done. I wish I could just stand up, take over, spell out the issue and have people vote. It would save time, shrink confusion, and get it done.



Lisa Junker said...

Great post, Matt!

I actually think Robert's Rules can work well, as long as a) everyone understands and is comfortable with them and b) nobody is using "rules lawyering" to control the discussion or keep themselves in the spotlight. When people feel awkward or uncomfortable using them, or someone is using his/her superior understanding of the rules to run circles around others in the discussion, then Robert can create problems.

At my last association, we actually used a simplified version that worked pretty well; every board member had a laminated "cheat sheet" that was basically just a glorified notecard with the simplified rules. Before their first board meeting was over, they were all pretty comfortable.

Coincidentally, I just came across a link to this post from Nick Senzee from last year; he has some good thoughts that relate to what you're talking about in this post.

David M. Patt, CAE said...

The problem is when many people want to "stand up, take over, spell out the issues, and have people vote."

That's why everybody needs to understand and follow the rules.

GertieCranker said...

I agree with Lisa: Roberts' Rules exist to promote democracy, not impede it. Simplify them so that they can accomplish more egalitarian meetings rather than be used as a blunt instrument of intimidation by the selp proclaimed experts.