Trouble-shooting sociocracy - submit your questions for the webinar

On February 17, there will be a webinar of trouble-shooting sociocracy.

What are some of the issues you struggle with? Submit them here and we’ll make sure they get added to the webinar presentation or Q&A!

:arrow_right: :arrow_right: Link to the webinar :arrow_left: :arrow_left:

See you then!

Troubleshooting sociocracy ask your questions (1)

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Submission by email:

Engaging volunteers in a none profit sociocratic organisations


One of the questions I have is about too much evaluation - if we have lots of operational roles, it seems that our circle meetings are spent forever evaluating and not able to get things done. We have streamlined in-meeting evaluation, but it still seems to take up too much of our agenda time.

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Thank you! Noted!
See you then?

How to encourage substantial feedback in closing rounds about what could be done better at the meetings.
And what about the issue of only having feedback long after the meeting has ended?
I was at a meeting recently that left me feeling uneasy and it was only a day later, after some thought, that I could define why (…but we wont meet again for 2 weeks).


If we have 11 circles and select a lead and delegate, plus facilitator, notetaker and timekeeper every 3 or 4 months to encourage rotation of leadership, that’s a lot of time spent selecting people (22 hours a year!) for the staff who have to go to many of the circles. Are there tips to make this process inclusive yet a little more efficient? I’ve tried a few things, but they didn’t seem to work.


How to address objections to procedure (as different from objections to a proposal on the grounds that it would interfere with a circle achieving its goals).


Got it! @brendakonkel

I believe we need help with our circle structure!

We have 4 core circles (Facilities, Social Fabric, Land Stewardship, Common House) which use consent decision making; plus a Board of Directors (with 5 members) that uses Robert’s Rules and depends on a condominium consultant with no knowledge of sociocracy.

Our Coordinating Circle had been single-linked to the 4 core circles plus the Board…but then lost one link before the October meeting, and 3 more links after the December meeting, leaving just one CC member.

(Two of those who dropped out were overloaded with new roles; one thought the CC not worth the trouble; and one was considered hard to work with/overly focused on process, and felt pressured to leave.)

There was no CC meeting in January. But, as of today we now have CC links from 3 of the core circles. (The fourth core circle has shrunk to only two members, making it difficult to fill the role.) I’m not sure about the BOD link status.

Meanwhile, there has been longstanding grumbling about the place of the BOD in our governance.

For a while now, I personally have been dreaming of the possibility of installing a Mission Circle, and transforming our current BOD into a fifth core circle called LFI (Legal, Finance, Insurance). (Right now, LFI is a sub circle of the BOD.) I think a bugaboo here is Maine Condominium Law, which requires majority vote on some BOD issues, while excludung any consideration of consent decision making.

Today, as a visitor to a core circle, I was shocked to hear it said that it would be a great idea to merge the BOD the CC. I found that idea alarming!

Meanwhile, having served on the CC for more than a year, I feel sure we have not made very productive use of it.

You might guess, we have a community spottily trained in sociocracy.

One of my current roles is to form a Governance Helping Circle under my circle, Social Fabric. The helping circle has two members so far-- me, and someone new to the community with an interest in governance. We have met twice, with agendas and minutes published to the community. At our meetings we are reviewing SoFA training materials, which are lucid and inspiring! I feel hopeful that we can find a way to more fully implement and benefit from sociocracy.

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Got it, @cynthia.anderson

Circles of 0-1. Please address having a circle that makes sense operationally, eg “volunteer programming”, say, but has membership of 1 role holder who is an employee who does volunteer scheduling and associated communications, with occasional need for other member participants. Or the ED role (possibly with helpers); can that be a circle, even though it has 1 person and/or 1 role.
A related issue: you can (can you) have a circle on organizational chart that doesn’t hold meetings, rather is a placeholder for a bunch of related work eg admin, the work being done by individuals or small workgroups.

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I am part of an organizational structure with a council to which each project circle sends a delegate. I have two questions:

  • How can I persuade my organisation to use double links without saying “It is because of sociocracy.”?
  • A few times a year, there is a proposal popping up in one of the project circles that targets every other project, so every circle has to do a consent moderation about this proposal. How can the different accepted proposals be recombined after each project circle has integrated their small objection-based changes? In other words: What is the most efficient way to handle such an organisation-spanning proposal without getting lost in too many iterations?

I am looking forward to this session! :slight_smile:

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Cynthia, I have a hard time distilling an answerable question from what you wrote. What I see are several issues:

  • Not enough training overall, as you said yourself
  • The legal situation (and the question of whether or not the BOD should be the same as the CC). I’m with you that merging the two doesn’t seem like the best idea, more because I think it would overwhelm the CC to also hold that significant of a domain. Making it a subcircle seems like a good idea from a sociocratic standpoint but I’m guessing not enough people have enough insight into the decentralized nature of sociocracy to agree with that. So while I think I’m right :wink: I wouldn’t even suggest it in this situation because I am guessing it wouldn’t be received the way I’d mean it.
  • If the 4th circle has shrunk so much, it is really important?
  • We tend to disagree that voting and consent are impossible to merge. One can simply frame consent as 100% majority vote. That’s a non-issue - we’re allowed to up our own standards and put in more effort than the law requires.
  • Glad to hear you’re finding our materials helpful! Let us know if you’re looking for anything in particular.

I always get confused understanding the circle role of the ED in a nonprofit using Sociocracy. Is is true that the ED is the Operational Leader of the General/Mgt CIrcle, and the Delegate TO the Mission Circle? Or is the ED the Operational Leader (or just regular member) of the Missions Circle appointed as Operational Leader of the General/Mgt Circle, in which case another different person from the General/Mgt Circle is sent as Delegate to the Mission Circle?

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Put it on the stack! I used to get confused about the same thing!

Super. I just signed up for the webinar. I think it’s that the ED is a regular member of the Mission Circle, appointed as Operational Leader of General Circle, and is joined by a different person of GC to be the delegate to the Mission Circle. So basically the latter of my first example. But it will be fun to discuss with the group!

Yes, that is accurate.

I always struggle with articulating a Domain that is anything more than a list of Activities, followed by a statement about Authorities, “decision-making on all policy related to the activities listed above.” It usually feels a bit unoriginal and unhelpful. Are there tips to the best way to write a more descriptive Domain ?

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