Robert's Rules of Order, Meetings and Procedures (Recent)Posted by Phil Rosenzweig on January 22, 2022 at 3:52 pm
Anyone using Robert’s Rules to govern their condo Board and manage communication between board members and if so how is that working for you? It seems like an unnecessary complication on a Condo Board and not mandated by Alberta regulations.
ModeratorJanuary 22, 2022 at 3:54 pm
Posted by: @calgaryMark
There are several entries in the Forum under ‘Governance’ and ‘AGM’ where you may find useful information. Use the ‘Search Forum’ heading above to find these entries to help your search
Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised is the ‘official’ and very comprehensive guide; many other writers have prepared ‘simpler’ versions for ease of use. The ‘Roberts’ organization has prepared an ‘In Brief’ version, which is easier to use, and there is also a very helpful website (but a subscription may be required).
Phil Rosenzweig and other members of the Forum have offered shorter, easier-to-use rules of order, which are more suitable for condominium board or corporation use.
Depending on where you are located, you may be able to find a Parliamentarian who could help you devise some rules of order suited to your needs, or some members of Toastmasters International could help (that’s where I received my grounding in parliamentary procedure).
Regardless of the size or complexity of your organization, a simple set of rules of procedure, published and known in advance (especially by the presiding officer), is very desirable.
Managing communication between board members is important. Ethically, all members should be involved in all communications, not one-to-one apart from the meetings themselves. That is mainly a matter of self-discipline and making sure all emails are sent to all members. There are electronic systems such as Condogenie (and probably others) that facilitate such communication.
ModeratorJanuary 22, 2022 at 3:58 pm
I suggest you connect with Pat Knoll at https://parliamentarianalberta.com/ He has spoken to CCI-SA and COFSAB meetings, and used to contribute to the forum.
You could approach a lawyer, but they are costly and not necessarily versed in the details of parliamentary procedure (which is not the same as court procedure). That’s why I suggested approaching Toastmasters International.
There are over 80 Toastmasters clubs in Calgary and almost any one of them would be able to put you in touch with a Toastmaster skilled in meeting management and parliamentary procedure, not necessarily in their own club.
ModeratorJanuary 22, 2022 at 4:00 pm
Pat Knoll is a friend of COF as is Todd Brand (403) 608-2710 firstname.lastname@example.org
Both have been quite active in their support of COF.
KISS: keeping it simple is important, but so is ensuring there is a very good governance in a condo is essential.
Another source of info is the Board Development Program of Alberta Culture who have many articles on governance.
ModeratorJanuary 22, 2022 at 4:02 pm
Thanks for mentioning both Pat and me Terry! A few comments on this thread from my perspective. The above posts are excellent in my opinion and here are a few more thoughts on the matter…
It is true there is not a credentialing organization here in Canada so Canadians like Pat and myself are Professional Registered Parliamentarians through the US National Association of Parliamentarians. To the poster who struggled to find a local parliamentarian, that is both unfortunate and understandable so one bit of help is coming soon. A number of us have been working to upgrade the Alberta Association of Parliamentarians (part of NAP) and we will have a website available shortly. This should make it a bit easier to find out about us!
I agree that a simplified set of rules is ideal for most Condo Corporations. With that said, Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR) is often still workable for many boards with a simplified set of rules (often called Special Meeting Rules or Standing Rules of Order) as the method by which the Board operates. RONR actually advises the use of this practice as needed. In short, RONR is the backup, but an agreed-upon, more simple set of rules are followed by the Board. These special rules often include things like how many times someone can speak on an issue, how email decisions are governed (and kept to a minimum!), rules on decorum etc.
The value of some kind of parliamentary procedure cannot be understated. There must be a simple, well-understood way of making decisions that ensures that every board member has the equal opportunity on all decisions and that decisions are made in a way that will be upheld legally if challenged.
ModeratorJanuary 22, 2022 at 4:05 pm
There’s an opportunity for a project here for someone, or some few, to take on.
Rules of order seem to be a problem in every organization; condominium corporations and boards have some special requirements from the terms of the Condominium Property Act and Regulation and individual corporations bylaws. The CPA&R have new requirements for online or virtual meetings, which may conflict with certain provisions for meetings to be held in specific places.
Would the Alberta parliamentarians, with COFSAB, like to prepare some model bylaw clauses and rules of order for condominiums? I have no authority to make the request; this is just a suggestion for both organizations to work together to benefit all of us struggling with these issues. I see the result being some model clauses and simple rules which any organization could use, with RONR and parliamentarians as fall-back resources in the case of dispute or doubt.
ModeratorJanuary 22, 2022 at 4:06 pm
Without recognized rules of procedure for general and board meetings, chaos and anarchy could prevail. Every condo must have an agreed upon set of rules of procedure that should be set forth in the bylaws or as an approved “rule” (CPA section 32.1). Todd makes a very good case for that to be Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised. Its simplified set of rules is adequate for most condominium corporations meetings but when things get complicated there are provisions to fall back on that have stood the test of time. This is the reason that RONR is by far and away the most commonly used parliamentary procedure authority. RONR In Brief is inexpensive and readily available as a reference authority for the chair of a meeting.
ModeratorJanuary 22, 2022 at 4:13 pm
It was very useful to consult with a subject matter expert (parliamentarian)* to:
a) streamline Board agenda/meeting minutes and separate into the standard agenda/meeting items per RONR, with reports behind still capturing relevant details.
BoD meeting minutes are legal documents.
b) draft a Board Rules of Procedure that elaborates on how a Board is to work together (constructively and courteously) and under what circumstances Board discussions can happen outside of Board meetings, then how to capture that properly in the next BoD meeting minutes.
In our (too) busy lives, sometimes expedience takes precedence over deliberation.
We need to work with condo management application providers to ensure their product(s) offer a space for collaboration and discussion: “The conduct of ALL business is controlled by the general will of the whole membership – the right of the deliberate majority to decide. Complementary is the right of at least a strong minority to require the majority to be deliberate – to act according to its considered judgment AFTER a full and fair “working through” of the issues involved. Roberts Rules provides for constructive and democratic meetings, to help, not hinder, the business of the assembly.”
A condominium management application “Approval” function can’t take the place of Board meetings and discussion/deliberation leading to the best decision that can be made on behalf of the Corporation/All Owners.
ModeratorJanuary 22, 2022 at 4:39 pm
While I recognize the need for procedures that make decisions legally defensible, there are many problems with using Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised. The most obvious is that condo owners and board members cannot be expected to know and follow the Rules (700 pages in the 12th edition) even simplified (200 pages in RONR “In Brief”) or by cheat sheets such as the ROR QuickStudy. An individual board can overcome some limits of RONR by drafting “special rules” as allowed in RONR or board procedures with the help of a parliamentarian. There are also alternatives to Robert’s Rules that are simpler to begin with, such as Democratic Rules of Order or Atwood’s Rules.
Issues of complexity aside, some have argued that the fundamental problem with these is that they are based in a British tradition of adversarial decision making. It is akin to position-based rather than interest-based negotiation in labour relations. Generally speaking, lawyers are trained in adversarial procedures and those are appropriate for situations where parties are at odds. Our parliaments are also adversarial except in rare circumstances when the parties find common cause. Experts in procedure may be limited in their perspectives compared, for example, to experts in community development. Other traditions use different meeting procedures to control who speaks and when, and how decisions are made.
One alternative is consensus building. A comparison between Robert’s Rules and consensus building is given by https://www.co-intelligence.org/I-comparisonRR-CC-DF.html, among others. Consensus building has been suggested to be appropriate for organizations such as HOAs, see https://cmp-hoa.com/files/An-Alternative-to-Robert-s-Rule-of-Order.pdf. The whole approach is described by https://www.consensusdecisionmaking.org/. Procedures have been developed so that decisions are made with control over issues such as levels of agreement, blocking, and consent.
My experience on many committees, boards, and councils is that Robert’s Rules only achieve its goals when participants are knowledgeable and skilled in its use, and the situation requires the formality and control. Even then it can be abused to limit dialogue and disadvantage minority voices. My experience is that smaller groups can achieve better outcomes with a minimum of rules of procedure until the time comes to record a decision.
I also believe that condos are a community as well as a corporate business. Robert’s Rules are one way of doing business, but are not conducive to building community. I hope we can have a discussion on practical rules that do both for general meetings and boards.
ModeratorJanuary 22, 2022 at 4:46 pm
I have been looking at the links you provided. This is exactly in line with our Board’s objectives.
Process oriented (disentangle the people from the problem) and Whole group thinking vs. Social Loafing or Group Think.
Too many people seem invested in a Win-Lose mindset, instead of Win-Win.
Consensus decision-making highlights the process of making decisions, not just the result. In a consensus process all participants are respected and their contributions are welcome. Power leveraging, adversarial positioning, and other group manipulation tactics are specifically discouraged by the facilitator or by the structure of the discussion. The way in which the decision is made is as important as the resulting decision.
Whole Group Thinking
Consensus decision-making places value on individuals thinking about the good of the whole group. Participants are encouraged to voice their personal perspectives fully so that the group benefits from hearing all points of view. But consensus participants are also expected to pay attention to the needs of the whole group. Ultimately, in consensus, personal preferences are less important than a broader understanding of how to work together to help the group succeed.
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