SoFA's theory of change

Hey there
SoFA GC has been working on a Theory of Change to clarify what really matters in our work towards our mission and vision.

General Circle has worked this out, and Mission Circle has been doing amazing sensing sessions about the wider context of SoFA - but we want to hear your voice as well. That’s why we’re sending this to you.

  • If you only have little time, watch the video and comment here.
    How SoFA works - Theory of Change and circle structure - YouTube (8 min)

  • If you are in a SoFA circle, reserve 15min of your agenda in a meeting on 1-2 rounds of reactions and thoughts on the Theory Of Change and your circle’s piece in it. Then respond to this thread with a summary of your thoughts.

If you want to read more, also see the Theory of Change ( long version | short version ) and add comments to the document. We will then work your feedback into a new version.

I’m looking forward to reading your ideas and thoughts!


AWESOME, thanks.
Is there a Spanish version? If not, can I translate?

1 Like

Sure, please do! Thank you. @andrea.morales-6947

This is on the agenda for the next Bylaws Circle meeting, I’ll share more here after we weigh in together!

Here are the reactions from SoFra (French circle)

  • Very coherent and healthy, simple to understand, it seems obvious, how to implement?
  • Very positive, represents what I feel inside
  • How to join the dots in each phase, must start with schools
  • “You can’t reform the institution without first reforming the minds, but you can’t reform the minds if you haven’t first reformed the institutions.”, I really like the theory of change, sociocracy changes the institutions, a model to follow everywhere
  • Improved version with diagrams, interesting to see an organization write its theory of change, to see in writing becomes explicit, interesting to see the sharing of the vision of the leaders
  • Concern that we are being too cerebral given our resources, however it is good to have a theory that clarifies together that we are all moving in the same direction
    Guidance for SoFra? (how does this help us?)
  • Recharging point for SoFra (review on a regular basis)
  • Practicality can be used to explain how we see sociocracy
  • Go into experimentation
  • Two values: transforming organizations and seeing where SoFra is in the theory of change phases
  • Will help us to prioritize things; also brings credibility to “why”
  • For the French context (in France), translation issue with the word “sociocracy” which is less appreciated (ref. Université du Nous using “gouvernance partagée”), must keep in mind the different models; hard to process with the French context

In brief, we really like it.

1 Like

Thank you, I appreciate this!!

Hi, here are the reactions form the German language circle:

Fantastic to have this all spelled out so clearly, very easy to follow.
Only got a little lost when Ecosystems/ sectors were explained, not so easy to follow.

very clear and easy to understand, especially struck by importance of the inclusion and connection with other modalities and groups. Have a question when we speak about spreading the knowledge of and about sociocracy, whether we always speak about teh whole system or parts of it?

Makes sense that the topic of eco systems is harder to follow because the steps of how a system changes isn’t as straight forward as an organization. We are very connected to other approaches, we can only change things if we address and work with others, for example, Transition movement needs conflict resolution, governance etc., all aspects are needed, it would be so good to include everything in the network/ web…


At a default-culture level, this could look good. It is clear and well diagrammed and so on. Clearly a lot of effort has been put into this.

At a meta-level I would raise two concerns at the moment.

  1. The linearity of the model. Here is how we go from A to B to C to D. How much of life, and human society, actually behaves that way?

This is not about SofA primarily - it is built into the Theory of Change model. The ToC brings some innovations within linear thinking - a form of ‘back-casting’, and considering preconditions and intermediate outcomes, and so on - but doesn’t really get outside of linear thinking. It is still about cause-and-effect in a primarily linear mode.

  1. Related to the above - lack of anticipation of responses (reactions) to propagation of sociocratic approaches. There seem to be assumptions that all people want to know sociocracy more, and then will all want to use it more, and then it will become ‘normal’ for all, and so on.

This will be true for some people, and, the opposite (or some other direction) will be true for other people.
Sociocracy is, or will be perceived as, a threat to various people and/or organizations. In particular, those holding power through non-sociocratic systems that are currently ‘normal’. So there will be reactions that modeling would be wise to account for:

Sociocracy will be known (more)
Sociocracy will be questioned (NOT nicely like in questions rounds) and discredited.

Sociocracy will be used (more)
Sociocracy will be attacked and persecuted.

…and so on. Given that these reactions are very likely to happen, in various ways, it would be wise to design for them.

1 Like

The Bylaws Circle discussed this at our last meeting. There was a general sense that it was helpful and clarifying the “big picture”, and also many of us reflected at check-out that the conversation brought a lot of energy into the circle and was fun to have! Definitely great to have this shared context in the nitty gritty of our meeting.

Here are a few comments from that conversation that could be helpful for improving on a future iteration of it:

  • It doesn’t articulate hypotheses or support rapid prototyping. (no “feedforward loop”)
  • Seemed weak in some analogies - like tying together Sociocracy and Ghandi/Lakey. Missing some specifics about the scaling up process. Easier said than done!
  • Would like to see the idea of sociocracy not as “new normal” but integrated into a web of new social technologies that allow everyone to have their own methodologies. Would prefer that the language use “mainstream” rather than “new normal.” Prefer to avoid saying that “we have got the (one and only) formula for the future” but want to emphasize our confidence in Sociocracy as “playing well” with the new world that we’re trying to live into and seeing this training as an important component of how we get there.

I like that a lot. Thank you.

Thanks @dcote.collab for sharing (and translating) the reactions collected in SoFra!
I may add that during the discussion we mentioned that we will not start translating the document until the final version is circulated.

Personally I read only the short version of the document and now I have watched the video. I confirm that I like what I have seen so far.

I wonder how the language circles can collaborate with the sectors- and with the ally-circle to implement the change roadmap.
For instance:

  • let’s take promoting sociocracy in schools : the school system and culture is different in each country; in SoFra we have three countries represented so far, therefore SoFra could bring useful content to the sectors circle concerning the schools;
  • concerning the ally circle, in France there are different groups/associations active in sociocracy. Perhaps it would be nice to elaborate an official common SoFA statement to address this point : a couple of basic sociocratic guidelines to help dealing with different points of view in different sociocratic groups across countries :slight_smile:
1 Like

We discussed this in Web Content publishing today! We see a lot of ways that WCP helps with the phases by making the user experience on the website better and the information available so that people can access and engage with sociocracy to fuel their change. We also see a lot of ways that our practice of sociocracy in our circle strengthens our skills and practice of sociocracy so we can bring change in our own work and lives and share that with others in our lives.

Notes from WCP’s Meeting on this:
How does this relate to WCP? How can we implement it in our work?

  • WCP isn’t directly named, but one of the indicators of Phase 1 is more website hits and WCP’s work is tangentially linked
  • There’s a TOC in the wider world sense and if we want to support we have to be working in small ways all the time
  • Within this circle we are conscious and thoughtful about our practice of sociocracy – one of the methods of contribution listed on the form is practicing sociocracy
  • Consider the different steps of what we do in our work – in order to create change in SoFA, every circle needs to know/understand our complexity in the world
  • We have an opportunity to not only apply sociocracy in our meetings, but in our world outside of SoFA in our movements
  • Maybe we create our own phases of applying the TOC within our work
  • Grateful for the TOC, fundamental in decentralizing organizations
  • WCP is definitely linked to phase 1
  • Highlight the fact that we support non-english language circles and it is essential for resources and pages to be localized to support those language communities and spreading sociocracy
  • Can this TOC be seen also as a narrative framework? → Does this help us to understand if writing and reviewing articles is helpful to how we want to talk about sociocracy.
  • We play an important role in the first stage → awareness
    • We have to make the pages inspiring and attention-grabbing/holding
  • We could propose creating infographics/summaries (easily consumable bits) of the content that we have in articles & blogs – making some resources that are easier to use and engage with quickly
    • Toolbox
  • Bothered by the missing link between sociocracy becomes the new normal and then we shift to a non-coercive society, think there are a lot of other pieces (i.e. compassionate communication, anti-oppression work, worker empowerment, etc.)
  • Can sociocracy be used for evil? → SoFA currently operates by focusing on sectors that SoFA believes to be non-coercive → what kinds of orgs do we support?
  • WCP fits in at the transition between sociocracy known and sociocracy used
1 Like

That’s great to read, thank you for taking the time to write down the parts from the discussion.

I have read the full version of the document. Thank you for sharing.
I need to start with admitting that I quite new to Sociocracy, althoug I’m involved in the study of Org.Change since long time.
My personal opinion is that the Change is, in many organizations, mainly an adaptive reaction to some external perturbation rather than a voluntary designed motion.
Managing change as a Project, most often than not, turns into failure, simply because a Project is an imposed, dictated transformation and Change Management is a sort of lubricant to reduce the attrition.

The ToC, IMHO deals more with “Embracing Sociocracy” as a better practice, rather than about an approach to a specific (Hard) Change impacting a quite stable and comfortable situation (such as Covid19 or the invasion of Ukraine). To proof a theory, I suggest to test its applicability to such kind of change scenarios.

For what concerns the document in its current formulation, I see that the some phases necessary for a successful change adoption aren’t considered.
Referring to the ADKAR paradigm, indeed, the Awareness and Desire outcomes should be attained before looking for Knowledge, Adoption and Retention.
As long as people aren’t aware of better models, they can’t have a tension towards them.
Then, being aware of them, will create curiosity (but also some skepticism) and to gain adoption, you need to win hearts and minds instilling a desire for something new.

Beginning with pouring additional knowledge of something will not automatically imply a change.
Everybody knows the benefits of healty food but the majority still desires meals fried and full of sauces. Therefore … if you want to change … work on the desire.