General Circle number of members; number of sub-circles

Q: I understand that the General Circle consists of the leaders and delegates of the General Circle’s sub-circle. If the General Circle has 4 sub-circles, that adds up to 8 members in the General circle. If the General Circle has 5 sub-circles, then that makes for 10 members of the General circle. At the same time I understand that the optimal number of members of a circle is 5 to 7. That would mean that a parent circle (in this case the General Circle) could never have more than three sub-circles. Is that a correct observation, or am I missing something?

And then if we add the Mission Circle to this example, that adds another 2 people to the General Circle membership. Mission Circle + three sub-circles seems to add up to 8 members of the General Circle.

My organization had the same question and received a number of answers, here are some I remember

Too many members of the General Circle may indicate complexity that can benefit from combining sub-circles into a parent circle that then reports to the General Circle. The benefit would be less General Circle members and less agenda items for the General Circle to deal with. The disadvantage might be the General Circle not dealing with every decision, so it’s important that the General Circle members trust the new circle to take good care of business and for the delegates from that new circle to choose well what to report to the General Circle and bring appropriate agenda items to the General Circle (items that need input / consent from other circles). One organization that I’m a member of has their Finance, Mission and Strategy circles reporting to a parent circle that then reports to the General Circle.

Sociocracy allows for single links between circles. The double link is not a requirement. When to single link is up to the group to decide. My organization has a single link from one of our sub-circles.

The same person may be a delegate from two sub-circles. This is the case in my organization.

Hey @Eric
Your basic obervation is right.
The MC people are typically from among the leaders and delegates (exception when the leader of the GC is “extra”, but the delegate to the MC is always one of the existing members). So even with 4 subcircles and a MC, it would be 8 plus an optional external leader.

I agree, that’s very common and needs to be part of the conversation.

The best version is to have only 3 main circles; that’s typically enough.

With a large GC, it’s useful to be disciplined about separating the policy making GC from the more operational leaders-only meetings. That way, we can address what needs to be dealt with without having to haul 8 people into a meeting.

I noticed that for volunteer organizations there can be resistance on having a multilevel circle structure because of the increased number of meetings. It’s true that the meetings are shorter and more effective, but still there will be more of them. So this becomes essentially a “scheduling problem”. A alternative would be “asyncronous decision making” (where decisions in the more general, coordinating circles can be taken without meeting).
Any resource out there on this?

Resource on asynchronous decisions? Or on the “scheduling problem”?
I personally think if there’s a lot more operational circles than capacity to do the thinking about the bigger context and coordination of those operations overall (in the intermediate circes), then the org needs to reconsider their capacity and how much they do.

mmm, nice reframing:)
resources on …both

Having separate policy or operational decision GC meetings is a very interesting idea. That raises another question in my mind. If there are no delegates from the sub-circles to the general circle when operational work is being discussed in the general circle, doesn’t that lead to a possible loss of information from the sub-circles to the GC?

Operational work within the domain of what’s needed among main circles. We wouldn’t talk about operational work affecting subcircles in this setup.

I hate to say it but I have neither. Haha, not even sure why I asked which one if I don’t have resources on either. Oops.