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Capturing Action Items and Key Decisions


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A search has yielded LOTS of information - but I'm still needing clarity.  

I belong to a loosely organized board that "kinda" follows RONR.  We are all volunteers, none actual parliamentarians and while well intentioned, not the best informed regarding strict subscription to the Rules.  We are attempting to conduct the business of a roughly 800 member volunteer/philanthropic organization and our bylaws indicate business needs to be conducted in accordance w/ RONR.

Our motions and seconds followed by votes are largely pro-forma and seldom contentious.  With that said, we are having some conflict over the recording of minutes.  Our secretary is sticking strictly to the "what was done, not discussed"  interpretation.  Therein lies my question.

How do we get the minutes to reflect key decisions that were arrived at or action items assigned to committee/board members?  The membership of the board changes on an annual basis and it is my assertion that there is benefit to recording these decisions lest they be lost in time.  As a volunteer organization that only meets monthly it would assist in not as a reminder as to what action items were assigned, but also a manner in which to hold our board accountable.

Thank you for any assistance you may provide.

Jeff N.

 

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As far as Roberts Rules are concerned, the only way to make a decision is by the adoption or rejection of a motion, by vote or by unanimous consent. These motions are then recorded in the minutes, together with the action taken on them.

How are these key decisions you refer to being arrived at if not by the adoption or rejection of a motion?

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Thank you for your response (especially at such an early hour).  

The specific case I'm referring to was a question posed to a committee leader in attendance at a meeting regarding their continued commitment to see through their term and complete a previously agreed upon task.  It had been suggested that a previous decision (absent my involvement) be revisited and possibly changed.  I asked the individual if they intended to carry on with their obligation.

I simply wanted the minutes to be reflective of the conversation and for it to be recorded.

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The term "action item" appears nowhere in RONR.

But, in any event:

"To modify the rules governing what is regularly to be included in the minutes requires adoption of a special rule of order, although a majority vote may direct the inclusion of specific additional information in the minutes of a particular meeting."  RONR, 12th ed., 48:3

 

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The only thing that I will add to Mr. Honemann's response is that the specific information that @Jeff N. wishes to have included in the minutes can also be done by unanimous consent, without a formal vote.

For example, after the question and response with the committee chair, you could request that the minutes include the committee chair's commitment to meet their obligation. The presiding officer could state "Is there any objection to including that in the minutes? [pause to confirm no one objects] There is no objection and that will be included in the minutes." 

See RONR (12th ed.) 4:58-63 for more details on this. 

Edited by Atul Kapur
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I would add that nothing in RONR prevents (or even could prevent) the organization from maintaining all sorts of records other than minutes. It could maintain an "institutional knowledge binder," for instance, and record in there things that do not go in minutes that future members may wish to know. Similarly, officers might maintain notebooks about the non-rules-based aspects of their jobs. This way, the minutes can be referred to for business decisions, without cluttering them up with other things, and topical notebooks could be referenced for other things a member may wish to know. Or a wiki, I suppose, if I'm being dragged into this century.

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Guest Puzzling
On 4/6/2021 at 12:33 PM, Jeff N. said:

Thank you for your feedback.

Similarly on action items"

"I move that we capture the following action time and assignments within the meeting minutes"?

If the action time and assignments are in the adopted motion they will be recorded in the minutes anyhow. Maybe it is therefore better to include them in the motion :)

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17 hours ago, Guest Puzzling said:

If the action time and assignments are in the adopted motion they will be recorded in the minutes anyhow. Maybe it is therefore better to include them in the motion :)

This is really good advice all around, in my experience. If you introduce well-worded motions in the first place, and quickly move to incorporate useful points from discussion *into* the motion, then it's very, very clear what you're voting on. I've seen motions like:

"I move we have a Christmas Party on December 20th, 2021, to be held at our regular meeting venue, organized by Sam Smith. Sam is allocated a budget of $1000 for this party, and shall be allowed to spend that amount at his discretion without requiring any additional approval from this body."

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