What are the preconditions of being able to do sociocracy?

See the list below. What do you agree with/disagree with?

  • Conflict resolution structures
  • Aligning on values like egalitarianism/ equivalence
  • Readiness: General philosophies alive within individuals. It can be very radical if the philosophies don’t match
  • You could set up structures, however, putting them in place when there are people who have different power desires doesn’t work
  • Decolonize from hierarchical power over structures to power with / within
  • Seeking opportunities for growth and inclusivity | curiosity and a willingness to fail
  • Wanting to collaborate more
  • Vision leading to an ability to assess whether sociocracy is a fit
  • Buy-in from most people - especially from the current hierarchy
  • A shared investment in systems- culture of “following a system is good”
  • Base level of transparency, don’t have to be forced to be transparent
  • They want to do something together (accomplish an aim)
  • Have to be capable of and willing to adapt their behavior (can’t be inflexible in their thinking)
  • Willing to listen to the others in the circle
  • Willingness to share power; willingness to take responsibility and step into power
  • Willing to adapt organizational structure
  • Desire to be involved as a co-creator rather than just a student/passive participant
  • Being able to accept that you don’t get exactly what you want (but if you try sometimes you get what you need) - willing to expand from preference to tolerance
  • Organizations that are already structured and don’t want to be restructured (so willingness to adapt) - not sure it’s a precondition
  • Willingness to make decision by consent
  • Willingness to experiment with the lead-do-measure process (work systematically)
  • Partners in culture: Shared culture and an affinity for that shared cultural identity - not thrust upon them
  • You have to be able to express yourself, be vulnerable, express yourself

Does one have to have the “same culture” to do sociocracy together? That piece sparked the biggest discussion. What do you think?

One thing that came up for me later was actually quite obvious but somehow I forgot.
It’s about Theory X and Theory Y. Here’s what that is (source):

The concept of Theory X and Theory Y was developed by social psychologist Douglas McGregor. It describes two contrasting sets of assumptions that managers make about their people:

  • Theory X – people dislike work, have little ambition, and are unwilling to take responsibility. Managers with this assumption motivate their people using a rigid “carrot and stick” approach, which rewards good performance and punishes poor performance.
  • Theory Y – people are self-motivated and enjoy the challenge of work. Managers with this assumption have a more collaborative relationship with their people, and motivate them by allowing them to work on their own initiative, giving them responsibility, and empowering them to make decisions.

Though your assumptions about what motivates your people will likely have the biggest impact on which of these two approaches you take, your choice can also be shaped by several other factors. These include your organizational structure (tiered or flat), the type of work that your people do (repetitive or challenging), and their skill level (amateur or experienced).

Maybe this is a key piece here and actually pretty axiomatic almost. My understanding is that McGregor called those “types” with those non-descriptive terms X and Y because they seemed so arbitrary. One groups thinks that way, the other thinks the other way, for no good reason :smiley:
What do you think @lea.shani @rhonda.baird @henry.pratt @hope.wilder @julia.thayer @ahmed.avais (I alerted Bruno to this thread but couldn’t tag him.)

Ah…that’s funny you mention Douglas McGregar and his X/Y theory! Some time ago I started presenting X/Y theory as part of my introduction to self-organisation / sociocracy / TEAL and I noticed that it resonates with the audience: Its not just classical managers that react (“Oh, what type am I?”), but also non-leaders. Somehow its a deep-rooted belief that is touched up on: Do you have a basic trust in others to do good, or are you by default sceptical of your fellow colleagues? Of course, I believe - and thats why I present the X/Y theory - that for an organisation to make the transition to sociocracy successfully, there has to be a deep belief in other peoples ability and motivation to take responsibility. And the whole culture of such an organisation has to reflect that.
But it is does not stop to amaze me, to see how many ‘plain’ non-manager-role workers, yes, even union-representatives, are absolutely convinced and live by the premise that theory X is ‘reality’.

As a side note: reducing observations to discrete 0/1 or X/Y scales is a good way of making a point (from a pedagogical point of view), but of course, in these polarizing times, we should remind our selves that everything is a scale or a continuum, with many grey-scale variations of a theme. Blue/Red, Black/White, X/Y is an enticing simplification, but it is still a simplification that can create us-and-them mindsets.

Thanks, @egon.loke
I’ll disagree with you just to see what we can learn. :blush:

There is somewhat of a leap of faith aspect to systems like sociocracy and I almost experience it as binary. Can people just work in a self-governed way, or not?
For example, if people ask me “what if we can’t find consent on something, no matter how hard we try?”, I wonder what they are going for. I mean what IS the alternative to figuring things out? The only alternative I am aware of is violence in all of its forms. (Outside of splitting the organization with mutual consent, which counts as figuring it out.) So thinking that figuring things out isn’t possible is and people can’t be trusted is a dangerous, self-fulfilling prophecy. So to me, the belief in people making their own decisions and figuring things out with each other is rooted in nonviolence. And not so negotiable actually.

OK, interesting :wink: let’s open this up then @TedRau
But before we do, I would like to ask you what it is exactly, that you disagree with? That systems like sociocracy can be implemented without a full committment to theory Y, NVC and such? or my statement that binary preconditions are a little too simplistic for assessing an organisations readyness for sociocracy?

The anti-binary part :smiley:

Can’t wait @egon.loke. Love your thinking!