Can we compare the experience in a sociocratic community / organization to sailing on a ship under construction?

A while back I heard this metaphor from Ted … These are some reflections from me on the same idea.

I guess we can draw an analogy between the experience in a sociocratic community or organization and sailing on a ship under construction.

Both scenarios involve a sense of ongoing development, participation, adaptation, and shared responsibility.

Here’s how the comparison works:

  1. Continuous Building and Refinement:

In a sociocratic community or organization, the governance and decision-making processes are continually evolving and improving, much like a ship under construction is constantly being built and refined. Both involve ongoing efforts to create something functional and effective.

  1. Active Participation:

People in sociocratic settings are actively engaged in shaping the organization’s governance and direction, just as sailors on a ship under construction contribute to its construction and outfitting. Both contexts require active participation and collaboration.

  1. Navigating Uncertainty:

When sailing on a ship under construction, there’s a level of uncertainty as you’re not on a fully finished vessel. Similarly, in sociocratic settings, there may be uncertainties and challenges as the governance and decision-making processes develop and adapt to the organization’s needs.

  1. Iterative Process:

Building a ship involves iterative processes of design, construction, testing, and refinement. Likewise, sociocracy often involves iterations in governance practices, with decisions made, tested, and adjusted as needed to improve effectiveness.

  1. Shared Responsibility:

On a ship under construction, everyone involved shares the responsibility for its successful completion. In sociocratic communities or organizations, there is a shared responsibility among members for the effective functioning of the governance system.

  1. Adaptation to Conditions:

Both situations require adaptation to changing conditions. Sailors on a partially built ship must adapt to the construction process, while members of a sociocratic organization must adapt their governance processes to changing circumstances and needs.

  1. Destination and Purpose:

Just as sailors have a destination in mind for their ship, sociocratic organizations have a shared purpose or mission. Both settings require alignment and coordination to reach their respective goals.

  1. Learning and Growth:

In both cases, there is a continuous learning and growth process. Sailors and members of sociocratic communities/organizations acquire new skills and insights as they navigate through construction or governance challenges.

However, it’s important to note that while there are similarities, there are also distinct differences between the two contexts.

A ship under construction is typically a physical entity with clear technical objectives, while a sociocratic organization focuses on governance and decision-making processes within a community or organizational context.

The analogy is valuable for understanding the dynamic and evolving nature of both settings but should be used with awareness of these differences.

If you want to share your personal reflections on this topic, please feel free to do so in a comment below. Thank you.

Best wishes!


  1. Start here:

  2. Sociocracy – basic concepts and principles:

  3. Why Sociocracy For All (SoFA)?

  4. Social Justice Statement of Sociocracy For All:

  5. Sociocracy For All in the news

  6. Sociocracy basic resources

  7. SoFA Membership - Why join Sociocracy For All?

  8. Sociocracy Training

  9. More sociocracy resources: articles and videos

  10. SoFA events

  11. Many Voices One Song – A sociocracy manual

  12. Who Decides Who Decides? - How to start a group so everyone can have a voice!

  13. Let’s decide together - The definitive guidebook for practicing decision-making with children

  14. Meeting Evaluation Cards - This is the Meeting Evaluation Cards product by Sociocracy For All

  15. Case studies

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