Re: Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised
From: Ann Lehman (
Date: Mon, 14 Dec 2020 14:22:31 -0800 (PST)
You may want to look a

Alice Collier Cochran
Roberta's Rules of Order: Sail Through Meetings for Stellar Results Without the 
1st Edition
ISBN-13: 978-0787964238, ISBN-10:0787964239

Ann Lehman
Zimmerman Lehman
forging futures for nonprofits

Yoga Teacher
Slow Yoga 4 Savvy Bodies

Board Member 
CoHousing Association of U.S.

Please ignore typos sent from phone

> On Dec 14, 2020, at 2:09 PM, Tom Smyth <tom [at]> wrote:
> Aren't Robert's Rules bad at drawing out the voices of marginalized people?
> They assume everyone feels comfortable speaking up and speaking eloquently,
> and that everyone has a strong command of the rules themselves. Those are
> some pretty hefty assumptions. But yes, there is some real beauty in them,
> I agree.
>> On Mon, Dec 14, 2020 at 4:57 PM Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <
>> cohousing-l [at]> wrote:
>> For the first time I have been reading the full text of Robert’s Rules of
>> Order Newly Revised. I have usually read a shortened Cliff Notes version
>> that stressed more than anything else the tedious process of ruling on
>> which motion supersedes the other and causes discussion to stop, or when
>> deliberations can resume, or how votes can be taken in what order and time
>> frame. Who has to stand and who doesn’t. All the tricks legislative bodies
>> use to fake out a newcomer. Or declare an objection to be out of order
>> because the maker didn’t wait to be recognized by the chair.
>> The newly revised version just came out and we are in the middle of
>> revising our Bylaws. I needed to read certain sections to clarify them but
>> found the discussion so helpful that I’ve ended up reading most of it.
>> The Rules are very clear on the following points:
>> 1. The process of decision making is one of deliberation. Participating in
>> the deliberative process is the important part of the process and one that
>> makes it better than other processes that only require a vote.
>> 2. The use of preference ranking/voting is more representative of the will
>> of the body than majority voting. But since many constitutions and bylaws
>> still specify majority vote it usually can’t be used officially.
>> 3. They make distinctions between large assemblies and small groups. Many
>> formalities are not generally used in smaller groups like boards,
>> committees, etc. Others are dropped altogether.
>> 4. There are large sections of discussion about what a rule means and why
>> it is important, and often what it does not mean. This includes discussion
>> of how it can be used inaccurately to unfairly to limit discussion or
>> participation. Or even to rescind otherwise valid decisions.
>> 5. I find this very helpful in groups like cohousing which have a
>> governance organization organized on a wing and prayer based on the
>> abilities and interests of those in residence at the time. Robert's defines
>> the roles of the officers and the board in terms of function, address
>> alternatives, suggest other combinations of tasks, and give examples of
>> additional officers and assistants in large organizations. The result is a
>> clear sense of what records and functions an organization needs to maintain
>> in order to meet its responsibilities of facilitating the objectives of the
>> organization, representing its members, and protecting its fiscal and legal
>> responsibilities. And also protecting the rights of the individuals in the
>> organization's work—not just controlling them.
>> In the end I’m finding that we have unfairly thrown the baby out with the
>> bathwater in rejecting the whole body of advice because we reject majority
>> vote. Robert’s is often said to be designed to protect and promote the
>> dominance of the majority. If you read the whole text, its real emphasis is
>> on ensuring equal and orderly deliberation and responsible record keeping.
>> Long way around to enticing everyone interested in governance to read it.
>> It’s a Bestseller on Amazon with a 5-star ranking. What better
>> recommendation could you have?
>> Sharon
>> ———
>> Sharon Villines
>> affordablecohousing [at]
>> To subscribe:
>> affordablecohousing+subscribe [at]
>> _________________________________________________________________
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> -- 
> Tom Smyth
> Worker-Owner, Sassafras Tech Collective
> Specializing in innovative, usable tech for social change
> · @sassafrastech
> Pronouns: he/him
> _________________________________________________________________
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