“When you train people in sociocracy, chances are they won’t necessarily find a job or a place in general that runs sociocratically. Does it make it harder for people to have their expectations up - and then be disappointed?”
I remember the first time someone dropped out of a training with the words “this is wonderful, and I know my organization isn’t going to go for it. So I’d rather not hear more - it’s just too painful.”
Oof, that was hard to hear.
So what do you think? Does knowing about sociocracy make it harder for you to exist in “normal” organizations? Reply to this email, I’m curious about where people land. Tell me your story!
Totally, I simply cannot work in a place without clear agreements. Also I had to quit some proyects because the leadership was very traditional and I was not involve in the decision making. Its hard yes but I will not settle for less.
You can always be a good influence and find ways to move closer to sociocracy.
For example, a friend of mine just told me about a change in his church board of directors meetings. Voting had become divisive, so they introduce a 1-5 scale - 5 being emphatically for something, 1 being against, and 2 being not at all in favor, but won’t hold it up. This simple system brought consent based decision making into their group with minimal change to the current structure.
So, sometimes what you learn is not what you see. But when you learn and know the theories, you can then find many ways to put them into practice.
There is an assumption that there is a goal to attain, a kingdom to reach.
This expectation can be realistic in a starting organization.
But most of the time, the journey is the destination. Organizations are always on the move and governance and collaboration need constant attention. We are living this in SOFA, don’t we?
In an existing organization, we need to focus on micro-practices, towards healthy power and thriving collaboration.
That is why I like S3 or Samantha Slade’s approach. One practice at a time. And you and Jerry have done a great job at showing those practices. Sociocracy is not just 4 rules.
In the last few months, I joined an organization not in the new ways of working. I have a dream of transforming the organization but I bring micro-practices in the places where I have power.
Since I learned sociocracy, I feel bad so often for people struggling in organizations. But there is hope, I know about sociocracy.
I am in between yes and no on this. On one hand, working in sociocracy gives me a huge sense of personal security as well as some tools that I can apply anywhere in my life, even “infiltrate” those more traditional teams with elements like good listening, feedback, agenda planning, etc. and that can give me a real boost. On the other hand, when I hit a wall in an organisation or just feel on a different wavelength, it can become a deep personal cut and that’s where the misery kicks in.
If I hadn’t come across sociocracy though, I would be probably taking those traditional, hierarchical models at face value, so it feels like I know there is a better option, but it’s not always attainable. It still feels better to know that the option is there.
Ultimately, the benefit of sociocracy being practiced more widely (and in diverse ways) is that more questions like this one will not based on the “sociocracy or no sociocracy” dilemma, but “how are you doing sociocracy vs us, how does it work for you what does not, what have you tweaked, discovered, or what did you merge it with” and create a visible spectrum in the matter. That’s an exciting vision for me and I bet as a consultant you are often exposed to it directly.
As someone who works with an understanding of worlds within worlds and micro-institutions I have tried to be ‘content’ with finding the smallest possible way to begin and trusting that, over time, the practices of a single department / program / community / nested world will begin to have influence through necessary interactions with those beyond its boundaries. At the same time, yes, it is sometimes demoralizing to exist within an institution that could be moving in the direction of / adopting select practices of / embracing the principles of sociocracy - but is not.
I have also been thinking quite a bit lately about how many organizations begin with a great deal of shared power (and chaos) - so adhocracies perhaps more than sociocracies - and later become more structured and hierarchical. In other words, somewhere in the institution there is a latent capacity for a way of relating and knowing that has been oppressed. Like ‘letting your freak flag fly’ perhaps some of what we need to do is let that latent logic loose (perhaps not everything everywhere all at once, but systematically).
I’m so grateful I learned about sociocracy. It validated ways of knowing and working in the arts (my field) that have long been devalued by funders and others that have encouraged the creation of more hierarchical structures and decision making processes in organizations that began as ‘ensembles’. It is tangible. And doable in small or big steps. And, more importantly, it is more ethical and effective than hierarchy in a most (if not all) environments / institutions / communities / movements / organizations.
I think it’s definitely harder to work in a traditional environment. Harder enough that I feel a thirst to create something better. So, I don’t think I’ve been spoiled. I think I’ve been inspired. And I’m working on creating an organization that will be run sociocratically.