I was recently invited to a founders event where the invitation listed some House Rules. The first Rule was "The Chatham House Rule applies." Then, in small print at the bottom of the list of House Rules, there was this explanation: "When a meeting or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity or the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other speaker, may be revealed."
I had never heard of the Chatham House Rule, but I was intrigued by the idea. This is from Wikipedia:
The Chatham House Rule is a system for holding debates and discussion panels on controversial issues, named after the headquarters of the UK Royal Institute of International Affairs, based in Chatham House, London, where the rule originated in June 1927.
At a meeting held under the Chatham House Rule, anyone who comes to the meeting is free to use information from the discussion, but is not allowed to reveal who made any comment. It is designed to increase openness of discussion.
Here is more background from the Chatham House site:
The Chatham House Rule originated at Chatham House with the aim of providing anonymity to speakers and to encourage openness and the sharing of information. It is now used throughout the world as an aid to free discussion.
A rule that aims to encourage openness and increase the sharing of information is a good thing. I can't say for certain if it created more openness at the event, but I enjoyed my conversations, and there seemed to be more depth and realness to the dialog. Being a founder is hard, so having a safe place to be able to cut through the bullshit is a welcome change. It would be a positive trend if more events added this Rule.