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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Strategic use of Robert's Rules and the true cost of faculty meetings

On the Moneylaw blog, Tom Bell has a very interesting post reminding us to employ Robert's Rules of Order to help keep faculty meetings from becoming ridiculous wastes of time. My favorite passage from the post concerns 'question of order pertaining to decorum' -

Roberts Rule's provides, in § 34, that "no member shall speak more than twice to the same question . . . nor longer than ten minutes at one time, without leave of the assembly, and the question upon granting the leave shall be decided by a two-thirds vote [§ 39] without debate." Upon encountering an infraction of that rule, you have the right to interrupt the speaker. As section 14 says, one who so objects "shall rise from his seat, and say, 'Mr. Chairman, I rise to a point of order.'" The Chair must then decide the issue immediately, without debate. If the Chair finds the challenged speaker out of order, and if anyone objects to the speaker continuing, he or she must cede the floor unless the assembly votes to grant leave.

That sounds like strong medicine, granted, and would doubtless ruffle some feathers. But faculty meetings pose a classic tragedy of the commons, one where just a few overly-talkative people risk consuming far more than their fair share of everyone else's time and attention. Raising a Question of Order can help you save you—and thus your school—from the perils of a grossly inefficient faculty meeting.

I offer up another potential aid in preventing wasteful faculty meetings, the 'meeting miser,' as featured in the New York Times - just plug in the relevant faculty salaries to this online device and watch university resources bleed. 

Finally, just for fun, I offer below the "most useless machine ever" - somehow it seems appropriate for this post ;-)

[hat tip Buzzfeed]

Posted by Jeff Yates on January 6, 2010 at 10:19 AM | Permalink


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