Learning Points SIPS Session #10

SIPS #10 November 24th 2022

Topic 1: Introducing sociocracy into a physiotherapy department in a National Health Service (NHS) Department in the UK was not what I expected to do, but was brought on by the difficult meetings I had to attend! What encouragement can you give me to keep going when the urge to conform (and not rock the boat) is also strong?

The check ins in meetings that the department has now embraced make such a difference to an ordinary meeting - just having everyone already participating in this way is “fantastic”.

People are also bringing themselves into the meeting in a meaningful way when they participate in rounds- regular meetings just have so many problems- a few people dominating the agenda being just one, and all the unspoken expectations, being another

Surprised at the reflection that you feel timid about this because bringing a horizontal framework into a huge hierarchical organization is quite brave, and difficult. Probably there are 100 times you would want to intervene but you have to keep it to one!

Conformity is a powerful value; wanting to “fit in” in any social group and wanting to implement “everybody matters”- which you would think would be a trump card- creates a tension when a hierarchy is still in place.

This highlights the importance of training facilitators to artfully convey the values of fairness, inclusion and efficiency of using these methods for these situations

I like the idea of sneaking in the back door with these concepts- not even having to call them sociocracy but recognizing them for their potential to a fairer world

On introducing feedback, it’s helpful to find moments to give positive feedback when it happens, building it in as a practice

An example of sneaking in the positive aspects of feedback (and a mini-introduction to a performance review)- the idea of “Talking Birthday cards” was introduced to share positive feedback in person on someone’s birthday-as well as singing to them!

Topic 2 How to manage and work with nominations that are turned down by people- is it efficient to go through the process when they have decided already (perhaps) that they are unable to fill a position?

It’s important to be aware of collective or mutual commitments and aims and how the work is divided between us which can come to the surface if someone objects to being appointed

One might change one’s mind once you have been nominated, and if not, in the process one can object and speak to the reasons why one cannot or does not wish to have the job. Although it might seem inefficient - this also is useful information to be gathered by the group and they can fairly quickly reselect another person

Another way to handle this is for people to pre-emptively exclude themselves from the role selection. For example, the facilitator might say, “if you know you can’t do this job- exclude yourself now”

Context of the selection process matters for this question for example a cooperative and a hierarchical business might see this differently

Going through the process of explaining why we can’t do a role builds our understanding of each other’s lives, our responsibilities and the time they are taking

Time budgeting might be useful in this context. This was mentioned in the recent SoFA Conference on Intentional Communities by Heinz Feldman, Sociocracy in Austria’s Biggest Urban EcoVillage

Important for the facilitator facilitating the selection process to remind people that they can turn down roles during the process and that is a valuable part of the steps of the group process

Topic 3: The introduction of “ Sociocracy Evening School” as a means of getting more people on board with using sociocracy and spreading it in a cohousing group in the mid to later planning stages . Interest was expressed in how this was organized and how it was going:

Sociocracy Evening School involves a series of four 2-hr. evening meetings with the following subjects:

Decision-making by consent- explain- then do the practice- with handouts to everyone so they can follow along, and the use of housing- related pretend examples to practice with

Meeting structure and election by nomination– the common sense of sociocracy in meetings

Picture forming/idea generation.

Circle organization

Pet policy was the recent example used for the picture forming- this was an emotive topic! It was explained that this was the start of the process of examining this area. Feelings were strong and fell quickly into the “restriction side” of policy. Afterwards, there was a reflection that an approach of “how do we live well alongside our animal friends, and people with animals in our community would be a better way to approach this topic.