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Guest Kelly M

Agenda, How to Manage New Business: Open Forum=Free for All?

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Guest Kelly M

Considering "opening" our agenda to provide a forum for "new business" (as suggestions for discussions/exploration at future meetings), but concerned about opening Pandora's Box...not being able to manage/properly filter all of the ideas that come up during an open forum.  Any best practices for providing this opportunity----without overwhelming staff/president with unecessary research/preparation for issues without timely strategic relevance???

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These seem to be more administrative / management difficulties than the sort of procedural problems that RONR deals with.

 

 

One (sort of) suggestion:  if a "new idea" comes up, refer it to a committee of experts to sort things out and come back with a recommendation or two.

 

In a normal business meeting the president does NOT have to grapple with new ideas; he/she remains impartial while a motion is under discussion.  Presiding is a reasonably easy job once you get the procedure straight in your mind.

 

Business meetings, of the sort RONR deals with, are not "brainstorming" sessions; they are for deciding among well defined alternatives.  They are not "open forums" for the development of brand new ideas (although new ideas do get thought up during discussion of well defined proposals - these can take the form of amendments to the original proposal, whatever it was, provided they are germane).

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I think you first need to distinguish between "new business" and "open forum".  In New Business, any idea, new or used, that comes up is, by being brought up -- that is, as a motion --  perforce already in the assembly's collective lap.  The assembly must do something with it.  You can give it some thought, and enthusiastically adopt it; you can unenthusiastically adopt it; you can reluctantly adopt it [adverbs mine, not in RONR, though I suspect that "enthusiastically" might be in the preface or introduction, describing something General Robert did in his free time; I'm not going to look it up, not at no $4.50 an hour I won't].  You can amend the pants off it before putting it to a vote [pants not mentioned in RONR, but go ahead , make me an offer].  You can reject it (just plain vote it down).  You can turn up your nose at it ("object to consideration"); you can send it to perdition, or a committee as Dr Stackpole optimistically or euphemistically says; you can postpone it or kill it outright ("postpone indefinitely" is the optimistic, or archaic, way Dr Stackpole, with his minions of mindless plutocrats, talk about it over Beefeaters neat).  Probably some others not coming to the top  of my head , or more to the point, the tips of my fingers; but good enough, I'm close to the end of the paragraph anyway.

 

Open Forum is more "open-ended"; basically anything at all can come up, subject to the control of the assembly; but generally there is no obligation to act on anything on the spot (unless a motion is made, in which case I'm guessing the procedure is pretty much, or exactly, the same as it is for a motion brought up under New Business.  I can look it up.  Make me an offer).

 

[Edit: repeated word]

Edited by Gary c Tesser

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Here is what RONR says about "Open Forum" -

 

"Good of the Order, General Good and Welfare, or Open Forum. This heading, included by some types of societies in their order of business, refers to the general welfare of the organization, and may vary in character. Under this heading (in contrast to the general parliamentary rule that allows discussion only with reference to a pending motion), members who obtain the floor commonly are permitted to offer informal observations regarding the work of the organization, the public reputation of the society or its membership, or the like. Certain types of announcements may tend to fall here. Although the Good of the Order often involves no business or motions, the practice of some organizations would place motions or resolutions relating to formal disciplinary procedures for offenses outside a meeting (63) at this point. In some organizations, the program (see below) is looked upon as a part of the Good of the Order."  RONR (11th ed.), p. 362

 

What RONR doesn't say (that I could find) is how long you can speak in such a forum since no motions are usually pending. If a motion becomes pending there are time limits.  It might be wise to adopt a rule regarding the length of speeches under this heading.

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