About bylaws

Bylaws are not a static document.

Sometimes the rules need to be revised. Things change. Opportunities and threats present and must be addressed. It’s like adjusting the family rules to make them appropriate for your good-kid who just got his driver’s license. Those old rules about not crossing the street without holding a grown-up’s hand just don’t make sense any more.

Asking the what-if questions

When you’re writing the bylaws you have to ask all kinds of what-if questions. No one expects anything bad to happen. You don’t, pre birth, plan for what to do when bad kids encourage your baby to take drugs or steal a car. But in the early days of an organization, somebody has to ask, “What will you do if you have a board member who never comes to meetings?” or “What will you do if the organization fails?” You surely can’t plan for everything, but you should plan for some things.

In new groups, a dedicated group of people, who were committed to the ideals, vision, and purpose of the organization, get together to really think ahead about how they want things to work. It is like participating in the birthing of a baby – decorating the nursery, naming the child, thinking about what rules they’d like to have when the kid goes to school or wants to quit. It’s all about the grand vision for the future. Everything is possible.

Reread and rewrite

Then every couple of years you have to reread the document and consider it in the current state of the organization. Here again you have to ask questions about how your rules are working for you and find where they might be improved.

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