Is Sociocracy effective at ensuring against one person gaining control of the group?

I have been attracted to Sociocracy because it seems that the structure naturally ensures a balance between interests and acts as a protection against any one person or ideology from gaining control. This seems to be a common problem that I have seen and I would hate to see a person successfully start some kind of disinformation campaign or other strategy to gain control so that others would defer to their judgment and the beauty of the vision would compromised. Is this true and are their particular actions that are important to take for being sure that the original vision remains vital?

Hey there
One aspect of this is that those who make decisions in a circle domain are those who also do work in that domain. So it would be hard to “sway” public opinion with false information because I’d assume that those who are the most involved also have direct access to accurate information; and those are the people making the decisions. So false information campaigns don’t really get you anything except drama - and if an org is susceptible to drama, then that’s its own thing. But it can’t necessarily directly manifest in decisions.

Other than that, it’s an ecosystemic approach. A number of things have to be in place and work well to keep it on track., there’s not one “switch” that secures it all. Like, for example, how willing are people to speak up? Do they stick to feedback routines? Do they publish their notes transparently? Do circles get enough feedback from the other members? Do they select roles using consent (and enough honesty)? The list goes on and on.

What do you do with my response, @gzaller ?

I think I need to stop circling and step up. Would you recommend a seminar or training class appropriate for my challenges? I have had some experience peripherally with many of the concepts already and have read quite a bit about sociocracy at this point.

It’s quite a task to be that burning soul inside an organization.


Or take the quiz to find your level, @gzaller !

One could take a slightly different approach to this issue and consider the basic question of individual values when in competition with community values. I am not sure the best way to work with this issue because I am not sure that this would be an issue amenable to sociocratic resolution.

It is interesting to think about the balance between individual and group. That tension comes up quite a bit in my community. I see how those lines don’t neatly translate into sociocracy @abe.ross but I’d love to hear more about what you were thinking.

I have raised this issue in the developing community of which I am a part. I am not convinced that when people join a community (and I know I am going well beyond Sociocracy), that they are aware of the changes which may occur in their life as a result. The role of Sociocracy here, IMO, is to insure that all concern (voices) are heard even if not dealt with. I am thinking that a community would want to have an open and frank conversation about what we perhaps sacrifice in exchange for community. The discussion would follow sociocratic rounds to assure that everyone had a voice and that all voices were heard. The facilitator would want to pay particular attention to the anxieties which were expressed.

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Hi Abe. I just wanted to express support/resonance here for your post.

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I am very appreciative of this conversation. As someone who has joined several forming intentional communities over the years, eventually becoming a member of a cohousing group that switched from using formal consensus to sociocracy years ago, I have experienced the consequences of not having the open and frank conversations about what might need to be sacrificed–on an individual level—in exchange for community. I think such conversations need to be on-going and deeply integrative, with concrete action plans put in place that help members make the necessary sacrifices; action plans like effective skills-building training, especially for facilitators, and use of professional mediators to resolve entrenched conflicts. In my experience, if the prescribed role reviews, policy review outcome measures and review dates, and the recording of objections to policy proposals and the manner by which they were resolved are not put in place, governance and culture “drift” can move away from sociocracy’s commitment to “power with” and harden “power over” dynamics. The “checks and balances” processes have to be effectively carried out on an on-going basis.