What is Robert’s Rules of Order?

Robert’s Rules of Order can be easily adopted by groups.

Have you participated on a board that identified itself as “following Robert’s Rules?” Most likely the answer is yes, but have you ever wondered who is Robert and where he developed his rules from?

Henry Martyn Robert, who lived from May 2, 1837 to May 11, 1923, was born in Robertville, S. C., and was raised in Ohio. According to the official website for Robert’s Rules of Order, Robert, an Army officer, was asked to preside over a church meeting in his community. Upon his realization that he needed to learn more, he searched out parliamentary procedure books and eventually authored his first book, which is now on its eleventh edition.

Chances are if you wondered who Robert was, you also wondered what his rules really meant. Beginning with the explanation of what parliamentary procedure even means! Parliamentary procedure is the body of rules, ethics and customs governing meetings and other operations of clubs, organizations, legislative bodies and other deliberative assemblies. It is part of the common law originating primarily in the practices of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, from which it derives its name.

In the United States, parliamentary procedure is also referred to as “parliamentary law,” “parliamentary practice,” “legislative procedure” or “rules of order.” At its heart, it is the rule of the majority with respect for the minority. Its object is to allow deliberation upon questions of interest to the organization and to arrive at the sense or the will of the assembly upon these questions. Self-governing organizations follow parliamentary procedure to debate and reach group decisions, usually by vote, with the least possible friction.

In sum, organizations benefit by taking Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR) as its parliamentary authority. RONR is the guide preferred by most professional parliamentarians for being fair and complete. It is easily obtained by officers and members of your group. Its basics are familiar to many people, having already been used by many other societies. And behind RONR there is over a century of experience with meetings, so its guidelines anticipate nearly every question that will arise.

You can check the bylaws of your society to determine if they have adopted RONR. If they have not, you can learn how by simply visiting “How your organization can adopt Robert’s Rules” at the website.

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