Meeting and learning about each other (an icebreaker thread)

We (members of SoFA, and the Forums Circle in particular) want to encourage you and others here on the forums to meet each other. We have some questions that we’re curious about, and we’re wondering if you might be willing to respond to some of these prompts and chat here with others about their responses.

  1. How did you hear about sociocracy?
  2. What organizations do you belong to, and do they practice sociocracy?
  3. What aspects of sociocracy are particularly fun for you?
  4. What aspects of sociocracy do you struggle with?

We welcome feedback about these questions: you can always add your reactions in the topic thread, or if you want to start a substantially different conversation, you can start a separate topic. Also, we would be happy for you to translate this invitation to another language if you are excited to do so.

I’ll be personally answering these questions later in the thread, but I would be excited for someone else to start the conversation.

1 Like

Hello! I’m quite new here, having been on a few courses with Ted J Rau.
I’m hoping at some point to work up take part in the Academy and hopefully become certified in the future and likely join SoFA as part of that process (I can’t see how it wouldn’t happen)

  1. I heard about Sociocracy through my housing coop group in York, UK. We bought a day of group training with Ted which really opened my eyes

  2. Our group is called Lowfield Green Housing Coop, which is the first project of Yorspace, which aims to be a larger coop housing project that runs other projects (speaking from memory and not being part of Yorspace as a parent organisation).

  3. I’m most interested in being efficient, opening up channels for equivalence and generally being caring while supporting transparent processes. I’m really looking forward to being part of or working with groups that function effectively and give confidence that it is in fact doable.

  4. I struggle most with the gap between understanding and implementation, which is why I get the impression that seeing it in practice should underpin the theory. I’ve been thinking about Sociocracy for maybe 6 - 8 months and at first, I would have said the complexity was challenging, although the more I learn, the clearer I’m finding everything clicks together, so it’s the complexity is becoming increasingly more manageable. I find it funny when I realise I’ve misunderstood a process or acronym and when it clicks and becomes clear, it’s so obvious! ha ha.
    If complexity is the known aspect, what’s still tricky is the unknowns or the complicated aspects, which for me, are typically found in human responses and the unspoken expectations around how groups should function, the definition of which is assumed to be commonly understood, but is in fact a varied bag…That I don’t know how to overcome. Maybe it’s small steps at a time within a clear framework, such as the flavour of Sociocracy that is practiced here at SoFA.

Thanks to the forums circle for the invite to say hello and maybe I’ll see some of you at the Sociocracy conference,

Mike

3 Likes

Thanks for jumping in to introduce yourself, Mike! It’s good to meet you. Much of SoFA’s work thus far has been in working with housing coops and intentional communities, and I am very interested in intentional communities myself. I’m curious to learn more about Lowfield Green, including what your mission and aims are and how you all are utilizing Sociocracy.

I’ll take this opportunity to answer the questions myself.

  1. I’m not sure when I first heard about Sociocracy, but it was in passing in one of my social media feeds a couple of years ago. Not too long after that a friend (and now fellow community mate) made me aware of a workshop with Ted on meetings in Sociocracy, and that drew my attention sharply to Sociocracy.
  2. In addition to participating in SoFA, I live in a very small 3-person community (seeking a larger community to join) called Messville, and we practice Sociocracy together. I also volunteer for the Toledo chapter of Food Not Bombs, and we are actively and intentionally (but with some struggles) working towards using Sociocracy for decision-making.
  3. Consent itself is such a beautiful and fun concept: we make sure people are heard, and then we come up with something that can work for now. I benefit so much from having a clear idea about roles: who is doing what, and of course we’ve consented to empower them to that end. And rounds are an elegant strategy for allowing people to relax in the awareness that they will be heard. I think the Sociocracy recommendations on circle size make good sense: meaningful and timely input seems much more
  4. I struggle to convey to others that when we delegate power to child circles, we aren’t becoming disconnected from that decision-making process: every circle has an engaged path of communication through the linking structure, and also we encourage circles to actively seek feedback from anyone who might be affected by a decision. With volunteer organizations, I find it difficult to clearly establish consent around who is a member of the organization (in terms of decision-making, from a Sociocracy perspective), particularly as there is a sense that a membership decision seems to impart a sense of priority on members.
1 Like

Hey there!

I moved into an intentional community that uses sociocracy. Part of the process of becoming a member was to attend an all-member meeting (back then the General Meeting, a decision-making meeting because the community was run by whole-group consensus). Ironically, at that meeting, by whole-group consensus, the decision was made to adopt sociocracy (here called Dynamic Governance or short DG). So I was there! But honestly, I had no idea what the big deal was. I then read We The People by John Buck and Sharon Villines. But mostly, I learned by observing and osmosis. Then I followed Jerry Koch-Gonzalez and observed his trainings, started to co-train with him (thank you, @jerry.koch-gonzalez!) and thanks to his feedback started to do training on my own. We then co-founded SoFA.

I am part of my community, Pioneer Valley Cohousing, and SoFA, both running sociocratically. I’m also currently on the board of CNVC which takes up a lot of my volunteer time, and it isn’t sociocratic. I am involved in a few smaller projects that tend to run sociocratically, including - with limitations because of lack of training and because it’s a small group - a jazz choice that runs by consent.

I am in awe by how all the pieces fit together. I love the fact that we get to change our own systems and that there’s always something evolving, changing, adapting. It keeps me on my toes because nothing is ever “DONE” or "this is how you do it and that’s it:. I love how it challenges me to stay alert.
I also love how the system requires my entire self to be alert: listening with my mind, my intuition/gut, my heart. It’s a form of presence that I enjoy both in circles and in client work.

Hm… not much. Because if we struggle, we can change it. I sometimes I get daunted by the fact that there’s just so much “cleanup” to do emotionally all the time from the effects of years and years of conditioning that told us we’re unworthy, not enough etc. And for everyone, eventually, it’s leaking into our sociocratic work. I guess that’s more that I struggle with the long-lasting effects of the power-over system than with sociocracy.

1 Like

Hi!

So…

  • How did you hear about sociocracy?
    I was invited to join the Latin American organization América Solidaria and they were implementing sociocracy. @eric.tolson was my teacher then! I was working in the NGO’s/human rights sector and I was really tired of how activists and young people were treated. I was very depressed and disappointed about this sector claiming they want to change the world but that were just abusing people. Finding sociocracy was awesome synchronicity in a moment I was looking to transform my activism. Now I believe self-organization is the way! Ⓐ

  • What organizations do you belong to, and do they practice sociocracy?
    SoFa and SoPra
    We are trying to implement some aspects of sociocracy in Radio Nopal, the radio station I am part of, but it’s being a little hard.

  • What aspects of sociocracy are particularly fun for you?
    I am amazed at the opportunities that I’ve been given. People can just join any circle and others will hold the space for them to learn. I am really moved by the trust and the patience. Anyone can take on a circle or operational role and constant feedback make it easy to improve and change.

  • What aspects of sociocracy do you struggle with?
    Meetings!! Being part of many circles means being in many meetings. I’ve been wondering if having regular meetings is actually positive. Sometimes I feel we just need to fill the agenda instead of just meeting when we need to. But is this an issue with the sociocratic model, I’m still not sure. But I think it might be something that might stop people from joining many circles.

2 Likes

I am actively involved in developing an intentional community in Hamilton ON, Canada. I heard about sociocracy through the consulting firm that we initially worked with to get ourselves organized and on track. When a SoFA training opportunity presented itself (and I do not recall how we plugged into that!), several of us jumped at that, first taking in a lecture on sociocracy basics, and then moving to Non-Violent Communications. And then…SoLT 14 rocked our world! It was during this series of workshops that I came to truly appreciate the power that sociocracy brings to the distribution of power and ensuring that everyone is heard and able to participate meaningfully. Sociocracy has since been at the heart of all our major decisions as an intentional community. We have 100% buy-in, which is such a gift & privilege for me as the Leader of the Sociocracy Circle.

What aspect of sociocracy are particularly fun for me?

Rounds! Hearing different views on a question is so enriching and important. I am learning that my opinion can change because somebody else explained theirs and it made sense. I am learning the amazing results when everyone is heard, when we open our minds and hearts to each other in support and solidarity. Our Steering Circle Lead says often - and it is profoundly true: “Decisions are always better when everyone speaks to the issue.” (I paraphrase…)

What aspect of Sociocracy do I struggle with?

Inconsistent commitment among some members to issues/policies/procedures that have achieved consent through sociocracy. Either through memory lapse or through a disdain for the process of sociocratic consent, direction and/or decisions sometimes yaw towards personal agendas and/or preferences. It is not in my nature to play the sociocratic police enforcement officer, and I balk at the need to do so. It’s an ongoing challenge for me.

2 Likes

It’s so neat to read everyone’s stories!

1. How did you hear about sociocracy?
I first discovered sociocracy through the Asheville Movement Collective, an ecstatic dance community that was operating sociocratically. I was living in China at the time and wanted to find more peer organized systems, and that was one! Asheville also had a number of other organizations which I later became involved in to varying degrees :slight_smile:

2. What organizations do you belong to, and do they practice sociocracy?
I’m involved in so many organizations… most recently I’m most active in:

  • Sociocracy for All, which is of course sociocratic ;p
  • Everland at the Landing - a community space in a residential community, which operations on a majority vote system that’s a bit like Robert’s Rules of Order, but without the order… lol
  • Firefly Earthskills Gatherings - a community and nonprofit that offers classes for living with the earth, including homesteading skills, farming, primitive skills, permaculture, ecology, botany and more. Firefly hasn’t officially adopted sociocracy but has begun adopting some parts and probably will soon. I’m the Treasurer of the Board at the moment.
  • Touch&Play - a community born of improvisational dance that gathers to explore human connection in its many incarnations.

3. What aspects of sociocracy are particularly fun for you?
I particularly appreciate the structure. As someone with ADHD, among other nueroatypicalities, the structure helps me stay on track and also understand various social expectations which are often otherwise unspoken, therefore hard for me to keep track of. The explicit structure is supportive, and also helps clarify things.

4. What aspects of sociocracy do you struggle with?
There are two things I struggle with:

    1. How much detail and time to put into various processes and steps along the way, especially as organizations are growing and changing.
    1. How to navigate participation and the range of different skills and experiences people need. I’m finding more and more that self-governance calls people to a high standard of participation and accountability which isn’t always there right away. Combine that with ambitious visions (which can of course differ!) and things can be tricky!

Hello, I’m new to this forum. I heard about Sociocracy in my cohousing group in Ontario, Canada. I belong to that group, to SoFA and to the Green Party. My coho group uses Sociocracy, SoFA does, and I’ve introduced parts of Sociocracy to my local constituency association in the Green Party. One of the aspects of Sociocracy that I enjoy is hearing everybody’s voice. I struggle to learn the technology required to move with ease into a Zoom meeting, and between the Zoom display and agendas, minutes and other documents.

1 Like

I live in a cohousing community in Portland, Oregon, USA, that started with a commitment to using consensus decision-making and switched to sociocracy about five years later. Our use of sociocracy has empowered those members interested in specific domains to operative fairly independently, which has worked well in our land and facilities sectors. We have many buildings and about four acres of property that require constant maintenance, so allowing those who experience satisfaction with hands-on accomplishment to help out the community according to their own guidelines is comfortable for them. The issues around use of consensus have never been fully addressed, so our community is less successful with policy-development skills despite the shift to sociocracy.

Actually participating in a Sociocracy4all circle has elevated my understanding of how structured tools move long-term planning forward–keeping careful records, writing out defined action goals and holding circle members accountable for reviewing those goals around the agreed-upon review date really builds group cohesiveness and trust.

1 Like

Hi I’m Laurel.

  • How did you hear about sociocracy?
    I’m learning from a co-op housing community that uses this governance form in their business meetings.
  • What organizations do you belong to, and do they practice sociocracy?
    Blueberry Commons Farming Cooperative
  • What aspects of sociocracy are particularly fun for you?
    The generous decency between participants; mutual respect, and deep listening. How refreshing! :slight_smile:
  • What aspects of sociocracy do you struggle with?
    Keeping the order of operations in order.

Happy to be learning more. Thanks!

2 Likes

Hello,

I recently joined Cohousing N, where sociocracy is the main approach to guide our processes. I particularly appreciate the integration of consenting and effective decision-making. I have to sometimes remind myself of that sometimes when I may feel becoming impatient with the perceived (by me :wink: inefficiencies of the process. I look forward to learning, practicing, and embracing it even more :slight_smile: Tom

2 Likes

Hello everyone in SoFA land,
I love connecting and I love icebreakers. Thankyou for this opportunity. I live on Treaty #4 Territory on Turtle Island, that is, in a rural area near Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

I’m an independent consultant, grateful to be certified with the International Sociocracy Certification Board. I’ve always been one to build bridges. And I continue to do so between SoFA, which I joined officially as a member over a year ago and The Sociocracy Consulting Group, which I’ve been part of since its beginnings in 2012.

Other bridges I build include my consulting/training work in the areas of mental health first aid, psychological safety and sociocracy.

Another important bridge: living in a family with two languages, French and English.

I practice/live sociocracy in my involvement with SoFra, the French-speaking circle within SoFA. Presently I hold the roles of secretary, language authority and coordinator for the translation of the book Many Voices One Song.

I’m also the CEO of the Sociocracy Consulting Group, facilitator of the General Circle and secretary of the Marketing Circle.

I get a lot of joy in using sociocracy and in consulting/training others in sociocracy. The joy is a result of feeling safe and valued in any sociocratic setting. Even when the conversations are difficult or controversial.

What aspect of sociocracy do I struggle with ? Even after all those years practicing and experimenting with sociocracy, I find that I need to always pay attention to objections, connecting them to the aim etc. And to pay attention to people’s version of their understanding of objections. It always makes for very interesting dialogue!

Et ça c’est moi! (And that’s me!)

Francine

3 Likes

Hello everyone,
after a little while translating “Many Voices” into French, I’m officially joining SoFA today!

I can’t even remember when or how I first heard about sociocracy: it was around 10 years ago or so, when I started pulling the thread of identifying governance models where more people make important decisions.

I was part of several consulting firms, the most traditional ones do not practice sociocracy. One of them practices holacracy.
I was also working with a regulator for telecoms and for a non-fiction writer at some point.
Now I am a freelance consultant, which for me involves strong ties with several networks. One of them is practicing sociocracy: the Shaker Network.

The very notion of sharing decision-making, the selection process, the way to run meetings, practicing feedback.

Struggle is too strong a word here: showing that sociocratic principles are not an addition or an obstacle to efficiency.

I’m glad to be here and to “meet” this sociocratic crowd. :slight_smile:

4 Likes

Bienvenue Lorraine, welcome aboard!!!

2 Likes

I am living in an intentional community Hearthstone Village in British Columbia Canada. I have been here for a couple of months and their requirement for living here is having at least a minimum foundational training in Sociocracy. So here I am. I was the lead creating a group training for 7 of us here.
We will be starting out sessions together next week. However our community has about 6 meetings a month where we use Sociocracy methods of deciding - so I’m seeing it in action and learning all the time.

1 Like

You’re gonna be experts in no time!

Bravo Elizabeth - please reach out if you need anything!

Thanks Francine, for your interesting description of the way you bridge out and connect with Sociocracy and other things
So you are in Regina - I am in BC - Powell River.
Hugs
Elizabeth

I heard about sociocracy by going down rabbit holes, as I often do. I suppose the trajectory looked something like this. Reading just about every book written by Ken Wilber and getting deep into Integral Theory tipped me to well it tipped me to a lot but for brevities sake I’ll jump forward quite a bit. I read Max Borders the Social Singularity and After the Collapse and holocracy was brought up once again as is as in Ken’s work.

I work with multiple organizations helping them to create psychologically safe work enviroments. There was a need for an emergent and innovative operational structure that didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. I began researching and I found Sociocracy.

I belong to multiple different orgs. Life After 12 Step (LA12) is a online support group for folks who have left 12 Step programs due to the fear based structure of the 12 step system. LA12 naturally evolved into a sociocractic, co-created community. Sociocracy has been adopted easily and is well on it’s way to help shape the community as it grows.

The Reconsitution began as a thought experiment: If you put a group of open-minded and creatively pragmatic thinkers in a room and asked them ten fundamental questions to frame a series of amendments to the United States Constitution, what would result? You can find the answer to that question here: https://www.thereconstitution.com. I have just recently come aboard this project with roles of contributing editor and organizational governance development.

Aware Consulting Group a collaboration of people working for social change an ethical for profit organization offering workforce development and training options to help organizations be the best they can be. TraumaAWARE transforms the trauma-informed approach from a checklist into a way of being with people. We are working in the US and abroad to enhance the workforce experience by teaching skills that will foster individual growth and build and support healthy cultures in our work and our communities. With an eye towards social justice, our training teaches AWAREness concerning our mutual human experiences. We focus on resolving the complications of vicarious trauma, burnout, whole health, and ultimately creating sustainable workforce development. We utilize all aspects of sociocracy in our workplacce governance systems. https://awareconsulting.org

I just adore sociocracy, it is naturally how I have tried to show up and govern in my professional endeavors for the last 15 years. I have struggled the most in integration with at the Oregon Health Authority in my role as the Beahvioral Health Senior Project Manager for Systems Transformation and Alignment. There is some heavy indoctrination to status quo thinking and a lack of presensing for the emerging future. Because of this I recognized I needed a secondary tool and have began implementing U-Theory into the organizational practices with the hope of transforming org culture. The issues have been that we don’t have the open minds, open hearts, and open wills ready for such a radical shift in organizational governance.