Comparing Robert’s Rules to Meeting Wizard’s Approach
Soldier, engineer, and author Henry Martyn Robert wrote his first Rules of Order (RO) for meetings in 1876 and revised it in 1915 (new abbreviation ROR). In 2011, the 11th edition of the book Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR) based on Mr. Robert’s rules was released. This book has been the structural guideline for small committee meetings to large conventions for over a century. RONR is a highly formal process with its own language and terms for controlling meetings. With the implementation of teams in many types of organizations, is RONR still relevant?
In 2003, the Meeting Wizard copyrighted the RARA process after years of training people in meeting mechanics. RARA is an acronym of successful meeting components that include Roles, Agenda, Records, and Actions. This easy-to-remember process was first published as the book RARA: A Meeting Wizard’s Approach in 2007. RARA is a cooperative process to achieve the purpose of each meeting, regardless of who the meeting participants are. The RARA process provides an easy-to-follow and implement structure for businesses and other organizations to have more effective and efficient team meetings at all levels. Should the RARA concept replace RONR in meetings?
Below are some key points on each meeting process to compare RONR and RARA. Each process contains some similarities to the other, as well as a few noticeable distinctions. In order to answer the two questions above, review each process to decide which might best fit regular meetings.
RONR includes: detailed agenda handling, meeting minute guidelines, major roles defined, tracking of actions/motions, and ability to refer/table actions. RONR provides a strict structure for discussion time and rules for voting on motions/decisions, meetings run by chair, members may participate, as well as the authority and process to discipline disruptions and problems during meeting time. RONR defines meetings types as: regular, special (aka as-needed), adjourned/continued, annual, convention, executive, public, or electronic.
RARA includes: suggested agenda format, template for meeting records/minutes, multiple possible roles defined, action item assignment, and future topic tracking. RARA offers flexible ideas for discussion period and making decisions; meetings guided by leader/facilitator; members should participate; and a list of typical meeting disruptions plus best methods for handling them. RARA defines meeting types as: decision-making, list generation, problem solving, project planning, strategic planning, or briefing. RARA also defines meeting methods as: face-to-face, teleconference, video conference, and net (aka virtual).
The answer to both questions is – it depends on the purpose of the meeting, the type of meeting, the meeting participants, and how much structure is required by the organization. Whether the organization is a for-profit business, government office, or non-profit, the points of Robert’s Rules of Order (RONR) and the Meeting Wizard’s RARA approach should be reviewed to determine which best fits the type of meetings to be held for the organization. Once that is known, communicate the desired process across the organization so everyone knows what to do. And then plan to provide reference books or training so everyone knows how to do meetings the preferred way.