Starting a Board Manual

What do you do if your client does not have a manual of procedures for the Board of Directors? The easy answer is that you start one.

Actually, it is not the responsibility of the parliamentarian to write such a document. However, having one makes the job of the parliamentarian easier as it gives one document to refer to when there is an issue. But how do you start to do this.

First, mention to the Board that they need such a document and give them ample chances to start to do the work. If they do not do anything, ask if you can start to work on the idea. Usually, they will be glad to let you do that.

Having gotten permission (or if you are desperate, even if you don’t have permission), get a basic outline in your mind. The basic outline I used was:

1. Directors

2. Officers

2.a. President

2.b. Immediate Past President (etc.)

3. Board Meetings

With this outline, I went through first the Articles of Association (the Charter) and then the Bylaws. When a clause fit in one of the categories, I copied that clause into the document and put an exact reference to it at the end of the entry. By doing this, I established a document where an officer could easily find what the official duties and responsibilities where for each office.

Once finished, I sent a copy to the President asking his authorization to send it to the other members of the Board.


When you go into a meeting, you need to have some strategies planned so that you can accomplish your goals. Without strategies, it is not likely that you will accomplish those goals. Good strategic planning is not abusing the organization; the opposite is true as you will be working to do the best for your organization.

For the sake of argument in this post, let’s assume that the motion, “That the price of lunch in the cafeteria be raised from $10 to $12.” We will also assume that this motion does not require any previous notice and that it is in the preview of the assembly.


If you support the motion, you can do several things to support it. You can speak in favor of it. In fact, you can plan with a group as to who will speak for it and when. Also you can plan to make motions like Postpone Indefinitely and Call the Question when they will support your position. You may wish to work against any amendments to the plan unless the amendment improves the motion in a way you (or the group) desire.


If you are against a motion, you will do all to get it defeated. Again, a group plan can be helpful. You would at least argue against it. You might also offer amendments that would ultimately make the motion less desirable — an amendment to change $12 to $15 would be one.

The amending process can be a very strong way to work for the defeat of a motion. I will make it the topic of a separate blog post.

Business Development Institute

The Business Development Institute is over and it went quite well. 22 people were in attendance and seemed to have a good time looking at the business aspects of Parliamentary Procedure.

I was the first presenter. I showed how they could write a homepage easily so that they could have a presence on the web. In addition, we looked at databases, email, and the like. I thought it went well.

The second presenter was James Lochrie who took us through the Core Values of the Parliamentarian. He hit the main points of what it means to be a parliamentarian and then went on to deal with ethics. It was a lively presentation.

After a break, Alison Wallis took us through many of the legal pitfalls of being a professional. It made me happy to be in Japan as we don’t has the litigation that is common in the US. She knew of no case where a parliamentarian had been held liable but that does not mean that it will not happen. Her handout on what we should be keeping track of is extremely helpful.

After a delicious lunch Eli Mina spoke about Making Tough Business Decisions in Parliamentary Practice. A very enjoyable presentation with many fabulous stories about situations he has encountered in his professional life. Eli likes to lower the confrontational level when tensions rise. He gave us a well organized look at many of the areas we have to make decisions about.

Jim Jones finished up the day by getting us to look at Parliamentary Possibilities and Your Niche. What part or parts of the field are we comfortable with and why? Where are we uncomfortable? Another good thought provoking presentation.

All-in-all, I think all of the presenters found the time too short. I think all of us could have gone for hours in our area and still not finished as there is much to look at in the area.

If you missed it, you missed a good one. Hopefully, there will be another next year in the other Ontario.