By exploring models to help us transition from power-over (which is based on domination) to power-with (which harnesses collective intelligence), we also seek to create the conditions so that power-within (which arises from self-confidence) can to flourish. Something mentioned in the Social Justice Statement of Sociocracy For All.
However, it is important to highlight that implementing a dynamic governance model is not enough by itself. I mean, having protocols for processing tensions is important, but they won’t do much good if people don’t feel comfortable expressing those tensions in the first place. Collective intelligence is only useful if it is shared.
To analyze this more “human” part, we invite you to use the concept of “psychological safety”, developed mainly by Amy Edmonson, which describes the shared belief that this “space” is safe to take interpersonal risks. That is, being able to express, authentically and frankly, our point of view; even when it seems to be contradictory to that of others.
How many times do we stop saying what we think for fear of being judged, for fear that our idea will not be considered valuable, that they criticize what we say, that they criticize us for a mistake? Every time this happens it is because we perceive that we do not have enough psychological security in that particular context.
Taking this concept into account, we dared to convene all the members of Sociocracy For All (and it should be mentioned that this implies bringing together different cultures, ages and languages) to discuss ‘when we have perceived situations like this’; and ‘how could we consciously implement good practices to continue building psychological safety in our SoFa’.
Trying to be consistent, we designed the session to be a ‘laboratory’ where, instead of ‘teaching’ theory, a space for group reflection was opened on how we have all experienced this on a personal level and built, from the real collective intelligence, a powerful shared knowledge from our own diversity.
Some conclusions revolved around the importance of maintaining, as leaders, an attitude of humility, curiosity and empathy towards dissenting opinion; and the importance of inviting risks and mistakes to be framed as a necessary process to learn and innovate. As well as the importance of pausing to incite objections and different points of view.
These inputs will help us nurture further conversations and future practice experiments to be implemented within and outside of SoFa; the same that we can gladly share with other organizations and teams. And continue promoting a culture that empowers people to contribute to that social power that is nourished by the diversity of our perspectives.