MIBS Simplified Rules of Coordinated Consensus through Chaos

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MIBS Simplified Rules of Coordinated Consensus through Chaos

The Basic Ideas:

  • Keep meetings as short as possible
  • Encourage problem solving outside of meetings and encourage finalizing solutions in meetings.
  • Give everyone a chance to find out what is going on.
  • Try to get everyone to agree on a common solution.
  • Let everyone have a chance to offer their opinion and advice to achieve that solution.
  • Keep the discussion on track but do not discourage new and potentially disruptive ideas.
  • When consensus does not seem possible, postpone.
  • When it keeps being postponed, the majority rules.

How to do things:

1) Avoid bringing issues to meetings. Solve them on your own. Avoid making new policies. Avoid bureaucracy. Use e-mail, the wiki, IRC, Jabber, tacking notices to the wall and any other communication method to define the problem and seek solutions.

2) When issues cannot be solved by daily consensus, (or require membership/board approval for legal reasons) submit them for the next meeting as an agenda item. Make sure each agenda item has:

   * A BRIEF description of the relevant problem
   * Describe WHAT the problem is, WHY it's relevant and WHO is involved
   * Describe the proposed solutions.  List pros and cons of each solution.
   * ONE BEST SOLUTION as official agenda proposal to be adopted in the "Consent Agenda"
   * The time it should take to achieve resolution on the issue.

All agenda items should be submitted at least 48 hours in advance of a meeting, but may be added at any meeting by any member--provided what the issue to be discussed and how to resolve it is clear.

3) Each meeting should have an agenda. The agenda should include:

   I. The draft minutes of the prior meeting for approval: The Keeper of the MIBS (Secretary) should type up the meeting minutes highlighting all the relevant ideas and arguments presented by each member for each agenda item at each meeting, as well as providing a list of members present (and not present) at each meeting.  The minutes of any meeting should be posted no later than 48 hours after the meeting and continually revised until "perfect" at the next meeting.  In a perfect meeting, everyone has already read the minutes and made any necessary corrections.
  
   II. The Consent Agenda: Each of the newly proposed agenda items appears in the consent agenda.  Any member present at any meeting may pull an item out of the consent agenda for discussion, at which point it goes under "New Business".  If nobody objects to the solutions presented by the consent agenda, everything in the consent agenda passes by consensus.  (This is to encourage people to discuss solutions and policies ahead of time.)  In a perfect meeting, the consent agenda passes everything without actual discussion, because it was discussed and agreed to before the meeting.
   III. Officer Reports: Each of the officers should submit an official report at least 48 hours in advance of a meeting.  During "officer reports" questions from the membership of interest to the membership at large should be fielded by the officers.  In a perfect meeting, everyone already asked their questions of the officers and the officers included those answers in their report.
   IV. Old Business: These are the issues that remained unresolved from the last meeting.  In a perfect meeting, there is no old business. 
   V. New Business: These are the issues from the consent agenda that were pulled out for discussion.  In a perfect meeting, there is no new business.
   VI. Adjournment: No meeting should last more than 90 minutes, especially if it starts at 19:00.  In a perfect meeting, all business can be wrapped up in two minutes, allowing more time for showing off and collaborating on cool projects.

4) How each meeting works:

Roberts Rules of Order was designed for people who like meetings and can't stand each other. MIBS Simplified Rules of Coordinated Consensus through Chaos is designed for people who hate meetings, generally get along pretty well, but can sometimes get pretty opinionated and obstinate about thorny issues AND tend to ramble on at length.

Key procedures:

-> One person speaks at a time. No person speaks for more than one minute when others are waiting to speak. The Coordinator in Chief will recognize only one person speaking at any time and clearly indicate who that is. The Coordinator in Chief will strive to make sure each person is heard in discussion or each person's objection is heard before giving any person a second chance to talk.

-> Asking for additions/changes. The Coordinator in Chief will ask for additions or changes to be made. When they say, "Anything else?", they are asking for additions or changes. Any member may propose an addition by indicating "Yes!" then stating what they would like to add or change. If there are no further additions or changes after three seconds, the meeting moves on.

-> Asking for objections. The Coordinator in Chief will ask for objections to a given item or action. When they say, "Any objections?" or "Anything else?", they are asking for objections. Any member may object simply by indicating "Yes!". If there are no objections after three seconds, then the item or action is approved, and/or the meeting moves on. If any member objects, they have fifteen seconds to explain why.

-> Ask to extend time. The Coordinator in Chief shall give a verbal and visual cue of time remaining in each item. 5, 2, 1 and "Time" cues should be given. If time is called, a person may finish their sentence. After the sentence is finished, any member may call out, "More time, please!". The Coordinator in Chief will ask, "Any objections?" If objections exist, it goes to a majority vote: "All in favor of extending time?" (Count those in favor), "All opposed to extending time" (Count those opposed). If there are no objections, or the majority of members present want more time for the issue, the same amount of time as originally allotted or as indicated below is granted. Otherwise, the meeting moves on. In the case of an agenda item under discussion, an extension of time fails, it automatically goes to old business for the next meeting.

-> Ask for an up or down. After one minute of discussion on old business or five minutes of discussion on any new business item, any member may ask for an up or down simply by saying, "Up or Down, please!". The Coordinator in Chief will call for objections by saying, "Any objections?" If objections exist, it goes to majority vote. If the majority chooses to vote the item up or down, the Coordinator in Chief will clarify the proposals being discussed and clearly state the alternatives. Each of the alternatives will be presented by stating the alternative and asking, "All in favor?". Each member may vote only once for each alternative. The alternative with the highest votes wins and the meeting moves on. If the majority chooses not to vote the item up or down, discussion continues with the same time allotted as if no up or down request was made.

General Procedure:

At the scheduled time, if people are generally ready, the Coordinator in Chief will start the meeting by saying, "Get comfortable and get quiet, we're starting," and ask the following questions:

   1) Does anyone have any non-consent items to add to the agenda?  (If yes, wait for additions.  Any member may add an agenda item.  Agenda items may not be removed.  Who adds items must be recorded.  Ask for additions.  For each addition, ask for objections.)
   2) Does anyone have any consent agenda items to add to the agenda?  (If yes, wait for members to pull things out of the consent agenda.  Any member present may pull an item out of the consent agenda.  Who pulls items out must be recorded.  Ask for changes, unless everything has been pulled out of the consent agenda.  If there's nothing left in the consent agenda, the items are approved and the meeting moves on.)
   3) Does anyone have any revisions to the minutes? (If yes, wait for revisions.  Revisions should be a free flow discussion between the KotM and the group at large.  People may only change what they said.  If there are no further revisions, ask for objections to moving on.  If time is reached, Ask to Extend Time.)
   3) Officer reports?  (Each officer gets five minutes to give a report, if no written one was submitted and five minutes of Q&A.  Officer reports may be extended for time once by majority vote.  Another extension automatically puts the report in New Business.  Once nobody responds to, "Anything else?", or time is reached and not extended, move on.)
   4) Old Business.  For each item of old business, the Coordinator in Chief will ask for objections to discussing the item.  If a particular item fails to be discussed two meetings in a row, it does not return for a third meeting and is closed for discussion for three months.  Otherwise, the item is discussed for no more than 5 minutes.  Time may only be extended once for any item of old business.
   5) New Business.  For each item of new business, the discussion will begin immediately.  Those submitting the proposal will be allowed no more than 10 minutes to explain the proposal and do Q&A.  Time may be extended indefinitely.  After those submitting the proposal are finished explaining, the time remaining is used for discussion.  Time may be extended once.
   6) Adjournment.  90 minutes after the meeting begins the chair must call time for the meeting.  Any member may extend for no more than a half hour.  At 120 minutes, the meeting shall be adjourned.  All remaining new business items are moved into old business for next week.