Sociocracy in India

Sociocracy is a more evolved, participative, and inclusive way of running communities and organizations that ensures every single voice in the system is heard.

Sociocracy in India

Sociocracy: The Next Step Forward is an excellent article on sociocracy in India that appeared this month in LifePositive. LifePositive publishes a series of magazines and a large website based in India that covers all aspects of motivation and personal growth—mind, body, and spirit. The article is particularly well-written and explains a sociocracy as a social systems based on concern for the individual. It seemed natural.

Sociocratic governance and decision-making methods develop and protect not just the good of the group. The “good of the group”  invariably means “the majority” unless it is balanced by the power of individuals. Sociocracy protects the individual as a productive and equal member of the group. It gives power to individuals as equals, productive member of the group.

John Buck in conversation with a workshop participant in India, Spring 2016.
John Buck in conversation with a workshop participant in India, Spring 2016.

The  introduction is by Punya Srivastava, a staff writer at LifePositive. The article is an interview with John Buck by Shammi Nanda and the documentation team of the Sociocracy Workshop held in Udaipur in the spring of 2016. Shammi Nanda of Courageous Communication, is a communications consultant and Non-Violent Communication trainer. He recently co-facilitated a series of workshops on sociocracy across India with John Buck. He is heavily involved in a variety of organizations devoted to sustainability and health.

John Buck is a certified and internationally renowned Sociocratic Organizational Consultant and partner in the Sociocracy Consulting Group in the United States. He is coauthor with Sharon Villines of We the People: A Deeper Democracy, a comprehensive guide to Sociocracy. 

Sociocracy: The Next Step Forward

LifePositive, July 2016

Srivastava begins the introduction with a story of elaborate family picnics of eight to ten families held annually. They are collectively planned in meetings including least one member of each family. They discuss the menu, activities, transportation, and budget and try to achieve consensus. They consider age, preferences, etc., so each participant can find something of interest. This was the first thing that came to mind when sociocracy was explained.

Gandhi called majority vote “diluted fascism.”

Unlike decision-making based on majority vote, consent decision-making avoids polarization by ensuring that each person is heard and their point of view understood and addressed.

As a consultant, John Buck has implemented sociocracy  in  a variety of organizations. He believes the basic values of equality, liberty, and transparency can make organizations and workplaces dramatically more sustainable and profitable.

In early 2016, John Buck came to India and with Shammi Nanda and Prem Pavitra to travel to five different cities to share the concept of sociocracy. This led to forming the Sociocracy South Asia Network, supported and guided by John. He  is also supporting a sociocracy-based community service Jaipur Mera Shehar where people have come together to re-imagine the city by starting life-enriching community initiatives that ensure sustainability.

Please read the full article. Here are some excerpts.

What is sociocracy?

You can think of it as a form of modern democracy that reflects the current complexities of society. You can think of it as a better way for leaders to learn to guide an organization, or for the organization to guide itself … You can even think of it as a design system for creating an organism out of an organization — bringing it alive, bringing it to consciousness.

What is the difference between sociocracy and democracy?

Sociocracy tries to actualize democratic values and in that way there is really no difference. It provides more modern ways of making decisions and offers more effective ways to run organisations.

According to your observation, what happens when people integrate a sociocratic process in their organizations or businesses or families?

After they have it established, and they are comfortable with it, first and foremost their day-to-day operations get into a flow — they no longer have to deal with daily crises…

Is there any way that sociocracy could be misused to manipulate power? What are the safeguards against this happening?

If you implement it only partially, you can manipulate it. All the principles of sociocracy — consent, organizing in circles, feedback loops, objections, and transparency are meant to … ensure stability and protection against somebody trying to manipulate the situation.

Would you say that sociocracy is the need of the times we are living in?

Yes, we live in more complex times than we have ever lived in. [The technological change] is unprecedented and we need a new way of governance to handle this complexity… So, sociocracy holds the promise of helping us govern ourselves in a way that can nurture harmony in society.

Can you see sociocracy working in India? Sociocracy in India?

Oh, yes. Definitely. People seemed to really get the idea that sociocracy is both egalitarian and gets things done. We have developed several special interest groups where people are willing to explore the application of sociocracy. Also, sociocracy has been working for quite some time in the Tamil Nadu region of India in the form of children’s parliaments and women’s parliaments.

You say that there is a correlation between sociocracy and how nature functions.Can you explain more?

Life forms — plants, animals, and bacteria … can repair themselves. Machines cannot; they need a repair person. Our conventional organisations mimic the structure of a mechanism. Adding sociocracy means making the organization’s structure resemble a living form… that can repair itself in case of a dysfunction, making itself healthy again.

What are some of the key ways that sociocracy is making a difference?

Level of commitment to the organization increases, resilience of the organization to diverse views and opinions goes up. The happiness index rises, sick leaves go down. There is an increased customer service orientation, and leadership skills get improved.

What are the plans for boosting sociocracy in India?

I am planning to come back in October 2016. We will have workshops on deepening sociocracy in different parts of the country. After the Sociocracy Yatra [or tour], we created a Sociocracy Asia Network for people from different interest areas wanting to practice sociocracy, and those who want to work as trainers and coaches…. We even plan to do a Sociocracy Convergence in 2017 in India where we will invite  successful implementors of sociocracy from all over the world. India with its diverse ways of organizing communities can embrace sociocracy and integrate it with other existing forms to emerge as an inspiration for the world…

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