What is Sociocracy?
A quick answer to the question, What is Sociocracy? is that sociocracy is both:
- A social ideal that values equality and the rights of people to decide the conditions under which they live and work, and
- An effective method of organizing collaborative and productive organizations as associations, businesses, and governments, large and small.
In English-speaking countries, as a method of organization sociocracy is often called dynamic governance, but around the world is simply called sociocracy. Its founder called it the Sociocratic Circle-Organization Method (SCM).
Not Just a Statement of Values
Sociocracy shares the values of democracy
- freedom and equality, and
- the right and responsibility of self-determination.
But sociocracy doesn’t just state values. It goes deeper. It is a method of organization and decision-making that ensures those values are implemented. Its principles and practices are very different from parliamentary procedure and majority rule. Majority rule can lead to a divided society and promotes competition and dominance instead of coöperation and equality.
A Whole System Science Approach to Governance
Sociocracy is a whole systems approach to designing and leading organizations. It is based on principles, methods, and a structure that creates a resilient and coherent system,. It uses transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability to increase harmony, effectiveness, and productivity.
Sociocracy was conceived as applied Sociology. Sociology is a social science that studies social groups and how they function. It was to be a governance method based on information from sociologists. Sociocracy, developed with research and experimentation, has shown that people who live and work together are more likely to make good decisions for themselves than anyone else.
Sociocracy guarantees a society in which freedom and equality are determined by the people who have an active role in creating the conditions under which they live and work..
Consent Is Required for Policy Decisions
Requiring consent for policy decisions ensures that no member of a group or circle* can be ignored. All circles make the policy decisions that directly affect their own responsibilities. They are not reserved for top management, officers, or boards.
Policy decisions are agreements about how an organization will work. They govern how resources will be used, who will do which jobs, the standards of quality, etc. Within the policies of the larger organization, for example, the loading dock circle will decide the policies governing how the loading dock will work on a day-to-day basis.
Consent means “no objections.” Giving consent does not mean unanimity, agreement, or endorsement of the proposal. Consent is given to moving forward, to supporting the policy as “worth trying until we have more information.” Or “I can work with it.” Requiring consent ensures that a policy will be followed by everyone until there is reason to change it. Like budgets, policies are rarely in force forever.
As a member of any sociocratically governed organization, you are guaranteed of your ability to collaboratively decide your living and working conditions as a citizen, as an employee, as a member, as a neighbor, as a student.
Coordination and Management When Everyone Makes Policy Decisions
Within the policies of the larger organization. all work groups, chapters, departments, committees, etc., make their own policies. Day-to-day operational decisions are governed by policy decisions and are most often delegated to the leader of operations.
When a policy affects more than one circle, it is delegated to the coordinating or general management circle. The general management circle is composed of operations leaders and elected representatives from each circle. Each member of the coordinating circle has to give consent. This protects the circles from decisions that would affect their ability to do their work.
Instead of a board of directors, a sociocratic organization has a top circle that fulfills many of the functions of a traditional board except that it does not have absolute control over the organization. The top circle includes members of the coordinating circle, the president or CEO, and outside members who add financial and professional expertise. The responsibilities of the top circle include long-term planning and financial decisions that affect the organizations future.
So What Is Sociocracy?
It is a governance system designed to protect and apply the values that democracies cherish. Unlike current democracies, it is also a governance structure designed to make sure those values will be applied as equally as possible for everyone.
Search these words for more information on What is Sociocracy? and Why You Need It: consent, consensus, democracy, dynamic governance, majority vote, policy decisions, Sociocratic Circle-Organization Method (SCM)
Updated: 10 June 2016