My brother and I are parliamentarians.
This weekend, we get to train a college's student senate in the proper attitude, philosophy, and operation of parliamentary procedures as explained in Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised 10th Edition(RONR).
Many people despise parliamentary procedure. When they think, "Robert's Rules," they think of meetings gone bad, ones where the goal of a minority got railroaded through by use of clever procedure. They think of the parliamentary geek (there's usually one in every organization), who insists on using rules that no one knows. They think of horrible meetings, where people argued and bickered, meetings which caused problems and harmed relationships.
When I think of parliamentary procedure, I think about the same things. Except, I'm not blaming them on the rules (as obtuse as RONR may be).
Instead, I see parliamentary authorities as the best panacea to these kinds of organizational decisionmaking problems. The rules aim to create an environment where people are empowered. The rules aim to encourage people to work together, to build consensus, and put their effort toward the good of the assembly.
For example, RONR page 52 makes the following statement about unanimous consent:
Who in their right mind would oppose unanimous consent for a proposal they want to pass?
Someone who is concerned for the opinions of those who may oppose it. Someone who is interested in the health of the assembly. RONR is chock-full of little statements like this, remindind people to think beyond the motion they want to adopt, but to think about the health and further continuance of their organization.
For those who feel intimidated by the hugeness of RONR, you may want to consider Robert's Rules of Order, In Brief, a recent publication by the RONR authorial committee that explains the basics used by most members and provides cross-references to the main compendium. It's very cool.
But my brother and I do not recommend using RONR for your organization (if the main document of your organization already calls for RONR, by all means keep it). We recommend a much easier-to-read, more lucid work called The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure.
The college wanted to film our presentation. We declined, suggesting audio instead.
I think I cited the mental anguish experienced by viewers after an hour-and-a-half of "two guys and a background".
I think we have now found the name for the imaginary gospel singing group the two of us have joked about forming. We thought about calling ourselves, "The Ransomed Brothers," but that's already taken.
"Two Guys and a Background" sounds appropriately garage-ey for our tastes. Coming to coffeehouses soon!