Possible questions and answers about sociocracy

Q1: What is sociocracy?
A1: Sociocracy is a governance and decision-making system that aims to create harmonious and effective organizations by empowering all members to participate in decision-making and ensuring that their voices are heard.

Q2: How does sociocracy differ from traditional hierarchical systems?
A2: Unlike traditional hierarchical systems where decisions are made by a few individuals at the top, sociocracy distributes decision-making power throughout the organization. It promotes collaboration, transparency, and shared responsibility among all members.

Q3: What are the key principles of sociocracy?
A3: The key principles of sociocracy include consent-based decision-making, the circle structure for organizing work, double-linking to ensure effective communication between circles, and continuous improvement through feedback loops.

Q4: How does consent-based decision-making work in sociocracy?
A4: In sociocracy, consent-based decision-making means that a proposal can move forward to become a decision if no member of the group has any reasoned objections to it. It allows for efficient decision-making while ensuring that everyone’s concerns and perspectives are taken into account.

Q5: What is a circle in sociocracy?
A5: A circle in sociocracy is a self-organizing group of individuals who work together to accomplish specific tasks or goals. Each circle has its own purpose, aims, and domain of authority, and members are empowered to make decisions within their circle’s domain.

Q6: What is double-linking in sociocracy?
A6: Double-linking is a communication and decision related structure in sociocracy that ensures effective flow of information and coordination between circles. It involves having one or more members from a circle participate in the decision-making and operations of a higher-level circle (and vice versa) enabling circle integration and alignment.

Q7: How does sociocracy promote transparency in organizations?
A7: Sociocracy promotes transparency by making information accessible to all members of the organization. It encourages open communication, sharing of information, and clear decision-making processes, fostering trust and accountability.

Q8: Can sociocracy be implemented in different types of organizations?
A8: Yes, sociocracy can be implemented in various types of organizations, including businesses, nonprofits, cooperatives, intentional communities, schools, and all kind of community groups (like climate activists communities). Its principles and practices can be adapted to suit the specific needs and contexts of different organizations.

Q9: What are the potential benefits of implementing sociocracy?
A9: Some potential benefits of implementing sociocracy include increased engagement and participation of members, improved decision-making processes, enhanced collaboration and teamwork, better accountability and transparency, and a more resilient and adaptable organization.

Q10: Are there any challenges or drawbacks to implementing sociocracy?
A10: While sociocracy offers many advantages, implementing it may face challenges such as resistance to change, the need for training and education, potential conflicts during decision-making, and ensuring effective communication and coordination between circles. It requires a commitment to ongoing learning and adaptation.

Q11: Are there real-world examples of organizations successfully using sociocracy?
A11: Yes, there are real-world examples of organizations that have successfully implemented sociocracy. Some well-known examples include the Dutch healthcare organization Buurtzorg, the sociocracy-based schools in the Netherlands called “De Ruimte,” and the EcoVillage at Ithaca in the United States. You already know about Sociocracy For All.

There are many other possible Q&A about sociocracy. I invite you to add more questions, propose more answers as comments below.

If you would like to share your comments or personal reflections on this topic, please feel free to do so in a comment below. Thank you.

Best wishes.

I appreciate the Q&A - the answers are short and concise while still giving a good understanding of the process.

The term “higher-level circle” implies hierarchy in the organization, community, etc using this form of self-governance. Is this the intention?

Thank you.

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Hello LJC,

I appreciate your comment and the opportunity to clarify.

I guess any type of organizing something involves a certain hierarchy. Yes, I guess in the organizations based on sociocracy there is a kind of hierarchy. There is not a “human based” hierarchy, but a hierarchy based on domains as the decision-making power is distributed from a larger (more general) domain to more specific (more local) domains.

I guess I understand your concern of talking about “higher circle” in a sociocracy based organization which is considered as being an horizontal, circle based organizational structure. You can anytime change the term “higher” with “larger”. Someone can call them “parent circle” and “child circle” if it seems less “hierarchical”.

Anyway, there is a domain/ process hierarchy involved. The double linked circles assure that there is not a “power over”, but a “power with”. This is my clarification answer according to my understanding.

There is more to say about this topic. I realized throughout my entire life that even we use systems that promote equality and equivalence we are still not equal: we are not equal by the access to opportunities, to resources, to education, to locations, to knowledge, and even we are not equal in terms of activities and results or on how many people are affected or influenced of our decision or their consequences. Being so different I guess we will never be “equal” but we certainly could use diversity to complete each other.

A “higher circle” is related to a larger / more general domain or process. Do you think There is a clarification in this answer? Also, other people may have other opinions and I invite them to share them here, as comments.

You see, more people could post something here, in the Discussion Forum than in the main site. Is there an “inequality” here? Of course it is, for the sake of having a certain order and in order to accomplish a higher aim.

Is anybody certified as a sociocracy practitioner, sociocracy facilitator, sociocracy trainer or sociocracy consultant? Of course not. Different skills and more (“higher”) knowledge is needed to be a sociocracy trainer / consultant than being a sociocracy facilitator, and to be a good facilitator for sure someone needs more training, knowledge and skills than being a sociocracy practitioner or just a sociocracy sympathizer.

Having an interlaced semiautonomous circle of working circles imply the idea of having a functional operational “hierarchy”, which I guess is necessary.

Best wishes!

p.s. Quote from MVOS chapter 2.2.2 - Domains

The hierarchy in sociocracy is a hierarchy of specificity of aims and domains, not a hierarchy of oppressive power. A Dishwashing Circle makes very few policies and does a lot of specific, operational work (the dishes!). A Board of Directors does little operational work and spends most of its time on longterm planning and the abstract level of overarching organizational policies that are not made by individual circles. In the original development of sociocracy, the Board of Directors Circle was labeled “Top Circle”. People are attracted to sociocracy because of how it embodies egalitarianism. Words like top circle, higher circles, lower circles and even the word leader can trigger discomfort and
the assumption of the existence of an oppressive power structure . So we look for different ways to describe the continuum of circles from specific to abstract. For example, instead of Top Circle or even Board of Directors, we use the term “Mission Circle”.

Here you have picture 26 from the sociocracy manual MVOS:

Is there a “higher circle” when we name circles as being “sub-sub-circle” and “sub-circle” or “sub-circle” of a “departament circle”? I guess so, but when we understand what “su-sub” or “sub” means in terms of “sociocracy hierarchy” the term we use is less important than the significance itself. As many other language items in our lives, it’s about understanding the meaning.

If you would like to share your comments or personal reflections on this topic, please feel free to do so in a comment below. Thank you.

Best wishes.

Thank you Adrian, that is an excellent clarification. I see the circles as a focused and equitable division of labour or activity. All involved are accomplishing the overall vision of the organization or community. All parts are equally important to this accomplishment. Every group communicating with each other and contributing their special skills, knowledge, focus and perspective. From the hands on direct action circles (implementation and feedback) to the strategic planning circles that keep the overall community moving forward toward the vision based upon the feedback and insights shared by all the groups. A symbiotic relationship in action that is truly equitable and focused on all thriving in that relationship.

In appreciation

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