May 2 – Robert's Rules of Order Day

Posted on May 2, 2017

Do I hear a motion to celebrate Robert's Rules of Order every May 2? -- I so motion.

Do I hear a second? -- I second the motion.

All those in favor? -- Aye

Those opposed? -- [crickets]

If this sort of polite protocol sounds familiar, you've probably attended a meeting in which Robert's Rules of Order have been used.

And I'm here to answer all of your questions about RRofO!

Who's Robert?

A U.S. Army officer named Henry Martyn Robert adapted the rules of Congress to be used in business meetings, club meetings, union meetings, and all sorts of other meetings. This was way back in 1876.

There have been some major revisions and ten editions of Robert's Rules of Order since then.

Why these rules?

Robert was trying to provide a clear manual to procedures for how to run meetings in a fair and polite way.

Isn't all of that stuff overly formal? And out of date?

For sure, not every organization uses Robert's Rules of Order. I picture meetings at, say, Google or Apple looking more like this:

Still, even informal meetings probably have procedures (maybe really informal, relaxed procedures) of setting an agenda, taking minutes, moving from item to item of discussion topics, and voting or decision making.

You used the word protocol. What does that mean?

Protocol is the official procedure for matters of state or diplomacy. In the Star Wars universe, C-3P0 is a protocol droid - he knew how every Duchess and Lord and whoozit in the universe liked to be addressed.
Protocol can also be the established code of behavior in any group or organization.

It can refer to spy procedures - how to deal with a double spy, how to cover up a botched operation, and so forth.

Protocol can mean the rules about the exchange of data in computing.

It can refer to an official record of scientific observations or an official procedure for carrying out a scientific experiment.

What all of these meanings have in common is procedure, an established way of doing things.

Also on this date:

Anniversary of the modern legend of the Loch Ness Monster

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