Article: "Converging towards a Common Protocol of Organizing"

Hey SoFA Members :slight_smile:

I’m curious to talk about this article with you all!

It relates to some of the recent developments with Ecosystems and across SoFA, specifically the What does it mean to be a Sector Circle conversation which touches are some larger organizational elements .

Would anyone be interested in finding a little window of time to talk about it together in real time?

@TedRau what do you think?


I absolutely love the article. What’s a bit tricky is that it’s talking about very similar things that we’re talking about, just with very different language. And many of these things are fairly obvious for people who do sociocracy because we’re already doing them.

So here’s my summary of the highlights of the article:

The 3EO model can essentially be described as an organizational structure based on relatively small, unbundled, and self-directed units that cooperate dynamically through contracts and are supported by enabling constraints and shared services.

What this means is:

  • there are circles that have authority in their domain
  • they have agreements with other circles (i.e. aims/domains, approved by parent circle/child circle pairs ARE agreements)
  • enabling constraints are policies in a domain, they help align everyone
  • shared services are services that make an organization an organization, for example shared SoFA book keeping, google drive, website, e-commerce etc.

A main point made is that circles don’t necessarily have to be in the same organization, and that if there’s a circle that does a certain thing (like bookkeeping), not every other circle in the organization needs to use their services. For example, if bookkeeping circle did a bad job, a circle could also buy that service elsewhere. So it’s more loose than what we’re used to in sociocracy.

They say that this loose system really only works if a few things are guided - how do those looser-than-circles units communicate with their ecosystem?
They need

  • Micro-Enterprises: units that are more tightly connected. They might be like departments in sociocratic structures. Circle clusters that form a system that’s tighter than the others. It’s a unit that makes sense in terms of profit/expenses. Example: Content Circle contains Training and Outreach. Outreach costs money and Training brings in money, and only together they make sense. There’s more to say here but maybe that’s a direction to think about it. Micro-enterprises have aims and targets and goals (OKRs).
  • Shared Service Platform: the support circles, like Finance, website etc. All the services that are needed to create a “backbone” for the organization. In SoFA, they are somewhat separate (Finance, membership), some are interwoven.
  • The Multi Micro-Enterprise Contract (the Ecosystem Micro-Community - EMC Contract)
    I think this is like our sector roadmap → a cross-cutting objective that is based on agreements from all circles that are part of the chain.

This type of contract is needed to effectively re-bundle organizational capabilities into complex value chains: such objective would normally otherwise be attained by static, functionally and vertically integrated stable organizational structures in an industrial organization.

  • The VAM (Micro-Enterprise incubation) Contract This is part of circle budgets – another topic we’ve been working on in SoFA. Which circle asks for money, and who decides what they get? In SoFA, we want to make those contracts locally, i.e. a parent circle sets the budget of a child circle. What we’re not clear about yet is whether that’s just for expenses or also for income… So far, we’ve decided that it’s only for expenses. Income is tracked locally (each circle knows how much ‘they’ made) but that’s more feedback (‘how well did we do’), not because we’re rewarding or punishing circles using those metrics.

Much more details in the article, really good stuff!


It would take me a while to digest the article that you shared and Ted’s comment. Still I am interested in this topic. I read an article about Haier a few weeks ago and found it interesting. I’m glad to meet this topic again. Thank you :slight_smile:


Count me in to the conversation! Very interesting article and, more generally, some amazing developments / transformations happening in front of our own eyes in the workplaces.
There is much truth in the saying "if you want to change the world, change the business "

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