Here’s a question I’m wondering about. SoFA is built on the observation that quite a few people self-implement, often without a consultant. I think that’s fabulous! Yet, I also know that it’s hard for people who do that, especially if they are the “burning soul” who is bringing sociocracy up as an option.
What they face:
*people who are skeptical about everything
*wanting to implement but never having done it
The truth is that the people who self-implement have the hardest job compared to all other scenarios. They are often inexperienced (= this is the first time they implement or use sociocracy) and they need to do the advocating, teaching and implementing often by themselves.
(By comparison, if I walk into an organization as a consultant, I’ve done it before and I know they already want it, so it’s much easier. And I have credibility.)
I care about change on the ground so making life easier for those self-implementers is key to me and to the spreading of egalitarian governance overall.
How can we support them? Or, if it’s YOU, how can we support YOU?
Supporting organizations to self-implement sociocracy is crucial. We want to spread sociocracy and we want to avoid that a failed implementation sends the message that “it does not work”, when the problem was really lack of resources and support.
We could set up a team of volunteers willing to donate some time as “free consultants”. There should be clear requirements for organizations to be able to access this support, as one would not want to spoil the market for professional consultants, We may define a "standard minimum package, with introduction/advocacy, training and implementation support for qualifying organizationsor groups.
This could also be a good training ground for people who want to sharpen their consulting sills and a source of interesting use cases to share.
I am totally with you on this approach! A SoFA circle has been thinking about offering a “marketplace” where both paid and pro bono work can be asked for. I think that would be fantastic!
Another idea is to offer more communities of practice so we can combine peer support and consultant support.
We could also have a “buddy” system where a more experience SoFa member is assigned to the Socioracy champion in the organization and provides advice, sound-boarding and support when needed for the self-implementation process. Buddy + Community of Practice could be a light system to offer support without setting up a complex program
It is tough. I think it is definitely also a non-linear process compared to a consultant standard training approach I imagine often happens. I would do training by myself so I have a grasp of the concepts, do training with the team on the basics, do experiential learning on the go with the team, and do some coaching. These would repeat but can be a stop-start process.
There’s also the opportunity cost of changing from trying out something like holacracy etc to sociocracy, where the team (and I) can feel fatigue about ANOTHER method of governance.
A guiding hand in the process is definitely helpful. A sounding board and accountability person. The low-cost barrier and “open-source” feel was definitely what drew me to sociocracy and SoFA vs Holacracy etc. I do imagine a longer-term aspiration toward becoming a consultant myself, but not at this time.
Yes, having been in that position myself a few times (implementing in organizations that I am a part of), I hear you. It’s rough. The trickiest thing about that situation is that one has to gain legitimacy first. Why are we even looking at governance? Who decides what governance method we try out?
Broadly speaking in Cape Town/South Africa, governance methods are not even a topic on the table for discussion. So the awareness that these methods exist is largely not there. So I didn’t have the same tension. It’s more the “real issues” of the org, that most people want to focus on. Like ‘hard’ numbers, getting activities/projects done, etc.
Oh, I didn’t mean that people here discuss governance methods. Most people don’t know what that is. But just talking about anything decision-method related would raise the question of who decides how we decide.
So people don’t discuss process at all?
In my experience, it really has been assumed that the governance method is by default autocratic and hierarchical. So the CEO/MD et al sets the tone of the culture (and delegates authority). And a subset of that culture would be who decides how we decide.
The issues are typically tackled at a situational level and not often at a process/methodology level. My experience and an assumption for others is that there is little consciousness of these alternatives. And, in my opinion, the best way to convince people that these alternatives exist is to have them see it in action, while speaking about it at a conceptual level as to why “it works”.
Chiming in real quick as someone who is about 18 months as “THAT GUY” self-implementing this as part of a new religious nonprofit … you hit the nail on the head with your analysis, Ted. It is really hard and to be completely honest I am totally burned out at this point but I do think that Sociocracy will survive after I step out of the General Coordinator (what y’all call Operational Leader) role at the end of this year. I would love to share back my experience if there is anywhere that would be helpful and also recognize that I’m more of a verbal/social processor when it comes to this sort of thing so if anyone would like to talk let me know! Honestly one thing that might be helpful would be something like a “recovery/support group” for people who have been through this and know how hard it is! The combination of peer support and new perspectives would be really nice, even if it was just a one-off event.
Alex, there’s actually something coming up that might fit that bill - a community of practice. We’ll have one for leaders, facilitators and secretaries but I was also thinking one for self-implementers might be good. Kind of the secret agenda for this thread actually.
I’m very interested in this whole thread, and in particular these questions. I’m looking at cases where I want to participate in an existing volunteer organization, but their decision-making process is painful. “Who Decides Who Decides” is a beautiful booklet, but you make it clear, Ted, that it is designed for newly forming organizations or organizations which are small enough that a re-launch is possible, and that makes sense to me. I want to present one case that I’m currently facing.
I’m moving into community of folks who, among other things, organize a local chapter of Food Not Bombs. (This means that I am relatively new to the community and the organization.) Their current decision-making process involves, as I understand it, one person who largely heads the organization and other people who make decisions in a loose way based on the urgency of
the decision and the energy of the people available at the time. Some of these folks have an explicit affinity for anarchism, and many of them are also involved in other organizing work in their larger community. I have a fantasy about an umbrella organization that includes a Food Not Bombs circle but which allows them (us!) to make decisions that coordinate their larger efforts. There are a dozen or so active voices discussing the regular Food Not Bombs activities, taken from a somewhat larger group of people who might think of themselves as members of the Food Not Bombs chapter.
Legitimacy: how do I get more than a small circle of people on board with the idea of Sociocracy, particularly when I am relatively new to the community and organization? How much education or training do I invite them into? I would love for everyone in the group to read MVOS, but I’ve already seen that that’s much too large a request, even for the organization’s current leader, who is already overtaxed, although the leader is excited about the potential of Sociocracy. I’m afraid of other members not having the energy to acknowledge the importance of governance early on, and then being afraid and defensive about losing legacy structures later.
I am very excited to learn more about how to participate in Communities of Practice, and how to get involved with other support structures as they become available (or if they are already available and I’m just not aware of them).
In my experience, one can only lead by inspiring. The harder you push, the more suspicion and resistance you bread. People don’t know what they don’t know.
And I think there’s progress. Many more people know about sociocracy than 5 years ago. Many more groups are doing it now. In some sectors, I hear “I don’t know much about sociocracy but it sounds like it’s what everyone does, so I guess it’s what we’re going to do”.
So let’s plant seeds wherever it grows organically and leave the places alone who aren’t interested or ready. Only go where there’s energy.
I don’t join a single organization anymore that isn’t sociocratic. (Well, that’s not quite true. I joined an unorganized choir. Bit my tongue for months. Guess what we’re implementing now.) I just don’t want to waste my time. I only bring it where I am invited.
Not that we have succeeded, but the need for, or the problems solved by, dynamic governance is important? I got a lot out Company-wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space & Sociocracy’s suggestion to, when there’s a need to send a delegate, to “just do it” and offer an explanation like “we need team member so-and-so to sit in this meeting for bla bla, and the team has selected him/her as their best option for this at this time”.
I come from the agile world where “consent” already is a concept - for example, when doing the planning poker exercise.