Learning Points Session #8 Sep. 22nd 2022

SIPS #8 September 22nd

This first issue is a topic we keep coming back to and feels like one of the existential questions of sociocracy implementation, and as always, we had many thoughts about it:

Issue 1 : How do you prevent people from dropping back into the “old ways” and keep moving forward with sociocracy? How do you keep people doing further sociocracy training?

Responses :

We are creating new muscle memories with sociocracy and the old ones take some time to go away

Keep modelling sociocracy and make sure to come at it from the intentional viewpoint of liberating the people who are using it

Clarify when you are using sociocracy and use checkouts or closing rounds to reinforce “what has happened”, thus reminding people of what they enjoyed about it and how it felt to use it

It is helpful in implementation to identify a problem the group is having that sociocracy can help solve

Have a formal agreement for the use and need for sociocracy

Although many coops use sociocracy, “almost none of them have fully implemented it- so one can conclude that it can work pretty well even when we aren’t using it very well!”

Suggest using “certain tools/practices” rather than “using sociocracy” and then mention “these tools are part of sociocracy”.

We have to be opportunistic and seize the moment to introduce/share sociocracy tools/skills. For example, when we see a need for some improved team working/meetings, or a shared decision that needs to be made.

Use stealth sociocracy to demonstrate its usefulness and give people a “taste of it”. Go for full implementation whenever you can- with consent of course

Think of the basic tenets (principles) of sociocracy as trust and connection and build on these

Use Who Decides/Who Decides? Book by Ted Rau a step by step guide for implementation

The use of sociocracy in any group is always a work in progress- it is always evolving

“We use rounds in our organization and I can’t imagine another way of doing meetings now”

Demonstrate how power can be really shared using the double linked circles and integrating feedback - this will feel different from the “business-as-usual” model

SoFA has a great free 45 min. self-directed learning, with interactive videos, for people new to sociocracy, called Moose, which might be a good pointer for those who are brand new to sociocracy

Issue 2: How to work with other individuals who have a vast number of skills in the field of social justice but who have no prior experience with sociocracy? For example, when preparing a joint training together


Use the training to demonstrate sociocracy values: for example, have participants help shape the agenda, “these are the topics-let’s prioritize them” or Let’s consent to the content of the training agenda”.

Suggest sociocratic ways of resolving issues that come up in the planning of the training-- especially the principle of “range of tolerance” when making decisions on content or structure

Sell the concept of sociocracy! Then work together on injecting elements of it into the training

Use the picture forming process to create a shared proposal for the structure, content and/or activities of the training

Use a demonstration project for the training, bringing an example of an organization using sociocracy in that field of training

Highlight the “shared power” principals of sociocracy and the social justice statement of sociocracy for all that outlines SoFA’s commitments to act on it. Include content on implicit bias and unconscious power differentiation

Always keep in mind, when doing rounds, or using any process, the question, “Is this a liberatory structure/” and “Are we living out social justice?” (see this link on the National Equity Project’s Liberatory Design work)

Use a physical demonstration in the training to show how sociocracy differs from other ways of structural organization and decision making- by moving people into physical structures in the room (or online breakout rooms) that represent the following:

Hierarchy- no one is really heard on the ground/at the grassroots level easier for top people to make decisions

Large Circle- takes a long time to hear everyone, no meaningful discussions and hard to make decisions

Smaller unlinked circles- we can hear each other and make decisions but have no idea what is happening in other circles

Smaller linked circles- we can hear each other and make decisions and we know what is going on in other areas as well

Keep in mind that everyone has developed their own methods of working to be more inclusive and listen and learn from them

Meet.coop- is a great tool for online meeting, training and learning and is cooperatively owned

Issue 3: How to handle interruption and/or conflict between participants and/or facilitator in a meeting

Slow down the meeting and be respectful in listening

If you do have the sense there may be strong feelings or conflict- give these sections of the agenda enough time on the agenda

Remember “no experience is wasted”

Continue the communication after the meeting in a more private way using any communication form that is helpful

Respond in a non-violent way- maintain curiosity, recognize emotions and be as clear and open as you can

Seek help from others- it is very good to have something set up as soon as you can for these situations, for example, a circle that is specifically for resolving conflict in these situations

Make use the experience for personal and collective learning

Recognise we are all flawed/imperfect. Remember that there are many things that are only being looked at in this generation that have been harming people for multiple generations

Build protocols/policies of how to deal with interpersonal conflict- it will happen and it is best to do this before it does happen.

A nice example for managing how to communicate when conflict occurs is as follows: a worker coop has a community agreement about conflict, and a journal at the back of their store where everyone has written in how they would like to be approached if someone has a conflict with them

Consider using language cues in the meeting that can quickly indicate if there is a problem arising, for example:

“oops”- when you realize you said something that hurt someone

“ouch”- someone said something that hurt you

“whoa”- you see someone else being hurt and want to stop it

This last comment I think applies to all the issues/topics today:

Remember sociocracy can be described as “ a 20th century hack of an age-old way of relating”- people have gathered in circles for millennia

Feedback from this meeting:

Enjoyed it very much- facilitation transparent and nice juggling of topics

Felt very sociocratic

Enjoyed having people check in even when arrived