Robert's Rules of Order, 10th Edition,|
by Henry M. Roberts III, William J. Evans, Daniel H. Honemann, Thomas J. Balch
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles; member or former member of several boards, committees, and subcommittees; former officeholder of a variety of executive offices in various organizations.
I find it appropriate that this book has a gold cover. Following the old cliché, it's worth its weight in gold.
Having been involved at all levels in various organizations operating in various venues, I have found that 98% of the headaches that arise are due to someone's ignorance of the rules of how to "play nice with others" who are also on a given committee, board, or panel.
People who don't take the time to learn Robert's Rules of Order have no business serving on a committee, board, or panel. Such people do more harm than good. They hurt people's feelings and propagate misunderstandings. They create rework, pointless discussion, and inefficiencies. All of these problems would have been prevented by applying the basics of Robert's Rules of Order.
A person can choose to learn the basic rules by observing, but such learning would occur over too much time for that approach to work well. It's much better to just buy your own copy of Robert's Rules of Order and study selected parts for a few minutes a day over the course of a week or so.
Some folks object to using Robert's Rules of Order on the grounds the rules are too formal or too hard to learn. These objections are not valid, because the rules are not overly formal and are fairly easy to learn.
Another objection is the rules create too much of an administrative burden. Again, not true. The reality is the rules facilitate communication and reduce administrative burdens. The rules provide a flexible structure that any organization is free to modify, but less modification means less of a learning curve for people new to the organization.
I have served on bylaws committees in which we did modify Robert's Rules, mostly because the rules are still based on face to face meetings when electronic meetings are increasingly the norm. Yet, the same principles apply--only a few details need to change.
Yes, the book is thick. This can lead people to think it's full of stuff to memorize. But, the core of what's needed for the typical organization member is relatively small and all of it makes sense. Making things even easier for the reader, the book explains the rationale behind the rules as you go.
The bulk of the book consists of "extra stuff" that falls outside of what a person normally needs to know. But the core is actually pretty light. So, don't be intimidated by the page count.
As you might expect, Robert's Rules of Order is, well, orderly. It consists of 20 sections. An astute reader can quickly pick out which sections are applicable for studying right away, and which should be reference later. The former far outweighs the latter, for the typical board member or meeting attendee.
If you want to succeed as a member of a board, committee, or panel (or if you simply don't want to be a pain to everyone else), this book is a resource you must have.