Tips, Videos, Handouts

The Right to Understand

If you want good group decisions, people need to understand where we are in the process and what we are voting on. It’s surprising how often these things are obscured by those in power in order to get their way. Yet Robert’s Rules of Order, a process guide for decisions among equals, protects “the right to understand” for all participants. Craig explains how that’s good for the group no matter what.

And here’s a Tip that Craig wrote about Understanding.

And Craig has made several other videos about understanding. Search “Understand” at our website to find them.

Here’s what Craig says in the video:

Hi everybody. Hey it’s Craig Freshley here. This book is called Roberts Rules of Order, widely recognized as the leading authority for procedures that guide group decision making among equals.

This is not the book for dictators, or parents, or animal trainers. This book is for groups where the participants are equal, where they have equal rights of participation and equal authority to vote.

It’s a complex book. There’s a simple version of it called, Roberts Rules of Order in Brief. But in spite of the complexity, there are some basic underlying principles to these procedures which are really great and one of them is the “right to understand”. This book provides that everyone, whether in the majority or minority, has the right to understand where we are in the procedure at any time and the right to understand what’s being voted on.

The right to understand where we are provides equal access to the process. Everybody knows how it’s supposed to work and when they get to participate and how they get to participate, and everybody knows how things are done. There’s no smoke and mirrors.

The right to understand what’s being voted on at any one time ensures that nothing gets railroaded through without everybody understanding; that the wool doesn’t get pulled over anybody’s eyes; there’s no bait and switch or manipulation. Everybody should be able to really understand what’s being voted on.

Now, the majority gets to decide, and anybody has the right to join the majority or leave the majority whenever they want. But even though the majority is in power, they still preserve the right of minority participants to understand where we are and understand what’s being voted on because they know that it is in even their best interest for everybody to have those basic rights.

If somebody feels they don’t have equal access to the process or if somebody feels that they had to vote on something that they didn’t understand, for one thing they are going to be angry about the decision and probably work to undermine the decision after it’s been voted on.

A second reason to preserve these rights is that it allows for the best thinking and the best ideas of all the participants. Even though we might make a decision against that minority point of view, it’s worth hearing because there may be something there that we have overlooked. It will make for a better group decision when everybody has access, everybody knows what’s being voted on, and we hear all the perspectives in a deliberate predictable process.

So thanks a lot Robert, for writing up these rules! Even though they are complex, the principles are awesome and I’m here to promote the right to understand.

Hope you’re doing good out there everybody. Thanks for listening.

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