How to tell the origin story of sociocracy?

I don’t see any content in the drawing, aside from logos on the left.
Do you want us to build something from scratch, Ted?

Sure. I was starting and then gave up :slight_smile:

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RE: writer’s workshops, we are hoping to start the next one in September.

Great topic for discussion! Shala is currently writing an article about circles and the roots in indigenous traditions, as well as how circles manifest in other practices like restorative justice. She’s doing a lot of research, I’ll be interested to see what she comes up with!


Thanks @hope.wilder , and @shala.massey , I am looking forward to learning what you are finding.
@kare.wangel I gave it a start now in the google drawing, pulling from the concepts more than people.
Yet, of course that’s also bogus to a large extent.
There’s never one origin. For example, nonviolence is a principle in pacifism which was strong in Quakers so it has been around and one of the core foundations of earliest sociocracy. Yet, NVC as a technique is fairly new, from the 70ies. Just as one tiny example because I happen to know the story, Jerry was part of the group that published Marshall Rosenberg’s book when it first came out. He also later learned about socicoracy from the zen peacemakers and started teaching it. When did nonviolence and NVC enter sociocracy?
Really, we have to discuss the level reductionism we’re comfortable with. As soon as one draws the concentric circle just a tiny bit wider than people who actually identified with sociocracy/Sociocratic Circle method as in the originally discussed image, it’s impossible to draw anything even remotely accurate.
Maybe we can draw something of value anyways - take it away, everyone! As I said, no worries in making changes, all versions are kept safely by google :laughing:


I like it so far. I added some stuff on the right-most side.

Hey! If you’re interested in anarchism, join the discussion in this thread! Sociocracy and Anarchism (Eric Tolson) - #8 by eric.tolson

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After watching Sophie’s talk and reading the discussions, I have an impulse to ask a question.

What if we draw a line between organizations and society?

It’s like drawing a line between organization and family. Yes, we always make decisions in all three systems (family, organization, and society). And they do influence each other a lot and may share the essential values. But my belief at this point is that they are fundamentally different systems with suitable governance tool for each system.

As far as I understand, sociocracy or sociocratic circle method is a governance tool designed and developed for organizations. I can feel that sociocracy community has the aspiration to influence how the whole society operates. But on the very hands-on level, I feel the current state of sociocracy is meant for organizations. And sociocracy is probably one of the most, if not the most, inclusive organizational governance tools that are currently available in the market. In that sense, I feel it’s important that we explicitly acknowledge those people, especially Gerard Endenberg, who managed to create and deliver a concrete package that organizations can practically use. It would be a great loss to not acknowledge the hard effort of initially packaging the right components, testing them to see if they work, translating them to the specific organizational contexts, and modifying them to changing needs. This acknowledgement can be done, while also acknowledging the influences to those packages.

To me, Sophie’s talk and the following discussions feel like the unresolved structural issues at the societal level understandably jumping into the organizational level. And somehow this very important tension that affect all of us got mixed up with the organizational governance tool that is not designed and developed for directly solving societal issues. It’s a different story when we ask the question,

To what kind of organizations does SoFA want to offer the tool?

Then we could say we want to work with organizations that directly tackle structural societal issues. Yet, sociocracy as a tool doesn’t seem to belong only to those organizations that are explicit about social change.


Since the image lies within ‘about SoFA’ page,

How about modifying the original image so that it contains the origin and lineage of SoFA?

People are curious about how founders, Jerry and Ted, started SoFA, how they came to meet sociocracy, and why they decided to spread sociocracy. And I assume human connection lineage would probably stop at Kees Boeke. By human connection lineage, I mean Ted learned from Jerry, Jerry from John Buck, John from Gerard Endenberg, Gerard from Kees Boeke and so on.

And for the ‘true’ origin story and development, maybe it could fall into the domain of ‘sociocracy historian’ when such a person becomes available in the future. And I doubt that such role needs to be within SoFA now. That task somehow feels too heavy for SoFA with its limited resources.

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I love that.
I often feel similarly about money, by the way. Within the Prosocial principles (a set of principles that are known success factors for cooperatively minded organizations) , I count “Authority to self-govern” as “is free of outside interferences”. The more we’re able to self-govern without outside interference, the better we can do it. Yet, systemic oppression and the financial systems (along with the legal system) are huge interferences to our ability to self-govern. Not that they make things impossible, but they clearly make them harder. So, I agree with you that while we cannot ignore them because everything is connected everywhere, they are also “outside” to some extent. The more outside inequality of all kinds there is, the harder it will be to self-govern.
An easy example from a client last week was this: they are an organization as equals. Yet, outside of that, they are all tied into an extremely hierarchical system in Academia. And they told me, the power imbalance in that other world tends to make things hard on the inside because it’s hard to keep out.

Countries and families are different because they are not based on shared aims; you can’t opt in or opt out based on whether you like the shared aim. So they lack that element of self-determination and freedom that organizations have.


That’s a very interesting thought. I’d worry to make it about people. Then again, there’s something very honest and specific about it. I like that.

After reading your comment, I feel like you’ve expressed more clearly what I wanted to say. Thank you :slight_smile:

And I should check out what Prosocial is. I’ve heard you say it quite a few times.

  • Prosocial and sociocracy
  • Prosocial: Using Evolutionary Science to Build Productive, Equitable, and Collaborative Groups
    Book by David Sloan Wilson, Paul W.B. Atkins, and Steven C. Hayes
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It seems like a good idea to draw a line like that. I believe that a governance system on a societal level could only actually be created by growing organically out of multiple experiments - quite like sociocracy has done it, albeit on a very different scale.

This is also the Game B approach (if you are familiar with the Game B community): To create a viral tool that is better in all ways at solving problems than the current political system, hence outcompeting parliamentary politics, not by winning elections but by rendering parliaments obsolete.

I feel that if this is the right approach to creating a solution, then this tool should be able to do everything that sociocracy does. But besides that, what should it also be able to do? What is sociocracy lacking? I.e.: What is the problem we are trying to solve?

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I really like the way the diagram is shaping up. Here’s a JPG capture after a few edits by me. I’m wondering how to include the Quaker concept of “answering to that of God in everyone”. What’s a good word for that? I inserted ‘mutuality’ as a placeholder but it doesn’t quite get it and I’m not sure that ‘decision making together’ covers it.


Maybe to copy my comment here, I like mutuality a lot.
It’s interesting that one can have all kinds of reasons to value mutuality. For example

  • for religious reasons
  • for ethical reasons
  • because it’s more sustainable/resilient long-term (if people are overpowered, it will create instability over time) - an evolutionary reason I guess?

To your question of rephrasing the Quaker slogan: I’ve heard Tati, a SoPra member who also trains on NVC, name it as “a little bit of the truth lives in everyone of us”, or something along those lines.


Thanks, Eric. I’m tracking with you.

I could go with that, or some similar rendition, “a bit of the truth lives in each of us”, “listening for the truth that each of us brings to a decision” “responding to the truth that each of us brings…”

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It’s interesting seeing it completely without the people, and only with the concepts.

It’s also without the organizations, which are people-esque, but still different.

It always amazes me how many different ways there are to show something.

I wonder what the final replacement image will wind up being, and I see benefits to different ways of presenting it.

For the SoFA about page, I kinda like this concepts based approach (though I would say the color scheme could follow the style guide). It really speaks to the underlying philosophy of Sociocracy and lets the ideas speak for themselves without a bunch of social baggage.

However, for a history page, perhaps a more people and organizational focused approach would make sense, kinda like what @duyoung.jeong and @TedRau were discussing a few posts back. I think it’s important to acknowledge all the social baggage with full context (for better or worse I suppose), and the history matters there! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

It just occurred to me to add this link to this thread where it seems to belong.
A while back, we interviewed Gerard Endenburg, and you can see the recording here!

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Whoa, no kidding!

This is awesome, I kinda thought he was long gone but apparently not at all :stuck_out_tongue:

In answer to the Forum “are you sure you want to continue this old conversation?” Yes!

Shala, I’d be grateful to read your article that you mentioned. Where can I get access to it?

In my experience with living and talking to people on Treaty 4 Lands (southern Saskatchewan, Canada), circle gathering is as old as time itself. Could it be something innate that calls people to get together and listen to each other? With various degrees of success?

Sociocracy invites people to apply different strategic ways of communicating. Raising awareness that sociocracy is coloured by various past influences is important.