Category Archives: Recommendations

Recommendations for  readings, websites, videos, and anything else that might be interesting to people interested in sociocracy.  Topics are wide ranging in relation to democracy, sociocracy, governance, organizational structure, decision-making, power, politics, etc. An answer is often found in a seemingly unrelated thought.

The Spirit of Democracy

The Spirit of Democracy by Larry Diamond is a very readable analysis of the growth and deficiencies of democratic governments around the world. In 1974, only 25% chose their governments in free elections. By the mid-1980s, two of every five states were democratic. By the mid-1990s, the Berlin Wall had collapsed and three of five states were democratic. Further, Diamond notes, democracy had become a zeitgeist, a spirit of the time. It had also shown itself capable of becoming the world order.

Diamond is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and co-editor of the Journal of Democracy. In this book, he examines the nature and quality of democracies and finds both conflicts in cultural values and deficiencies in practice that limit the growth and spread of democracy. Without addressing these, democracy will be less secure in the countries where it is established and it is less likely to spread.

One concern is a conflict in values. Cultural values in the West include individualism, freedom, and equality which favor democracy. In contrast, those in the East are order, family, and country. An authoritarian government nurtures dependency and offers a sense of security that is lacking in a democracy that values individualism and self-reliance. How can democratic government address this difference?

The next concern is the more headline grabbing deficiencies and the ways in which these countries need to improve in order to become fully democratic. Some of the major deficiencies include the poorly educated making self-defeating choices and corruption as a social expectation. Diamond analyzes these in detail and this is where the reader will find a treasure trove of information and ideas for further research and analysis because everyone could be addressed by applying sociocratic principles.

This is an interesting book for those who are interested in international affairs and those who are looking for good research topics. Endenburg found that people needed the democratic experience before they could operate sociocratically, so democracy is an important topic for sociocracy.

The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World by Larry Diamond. NY: Henry Holt, 2008. Bibliographic notes, index. The appendix includes charts of information from Freedom House and the Human Development Index that present international statistics on various measures of democratization of governments.At Amazon

[email protected]

[email protected] was started in October of 2000 by Marielle Jansen who was a member of the Sociocratisch Centrum in Rotterdam, beginning in the early 1990s. Sharon Villines became moderator of the list in 2002 when Marielle moved to Australia. In 2002 there were 12 members. In 2010, there were 272. In 2013, 304.

This is the most active forum for discussion about sociocracy. List traffic varies depending on the current topic. Topics range from questions about theory and practice to stories to discussion of the principles and practices.

Everyone who is interested in sociocracy is welcome. To join, send a blank email to:

[email protected]

You may be asked to confirm your subscription so check your spam folder if you don’t receive a confirmation.

The Sociocracy Group

The Sociocratisch Centrum was founded by Gerard Endenburg who developed the Sociocratic Circle-Organization Method.

In 2014, it reorganized and became The Sociocracy Group (TSG) to distinguish itself as an international  consulting firm with affiliates in many countries.  The Sociocracy Group serves as a professional association for certified facilitators, trainers, and consultants, and oversees the Certification of Sociocratic Experts worldwide.

The standards, norms, and certification process are posted on the site. Along with an international list of Certified Experts by country. Annewiek Reijmer is now the General Manager.

From the website:

The Sociocracy Group is an organization that promotes sociocracy as a method of governance for all facets of global society. It is legally organized in The Netherlands and headquartered in Rotterdam.
Sociocracy enables people to live and work together as different, unique persons through dynamic structures and mutual equivalency in decision-making.
The Sociocracy Group adds the sociocratic circle-organization method (SCM) to global society by guiding regional TSG offices and providing a corps of certified sociocratic experts using the sociocratic norms.

To contact the TSG, email the General Manager: Annewiek Reijmer.

Vision, Mission, Aim Statement, DecisionLab, UK

From DecisionLab’s website:

DecisionLab holds a space for resolution: the moment when conflict and turmoil turn into creative power; the shared commitment to accomplish a challenging goal. We envision a world where everyone knows how to collaborate in making good decisions, and where every community has facilitative leaders who evoke the fair and creative participation of their associates. We offer facilitation, training, coaching & consultancy services to organisations and leaders with whom we share common visions of bettering the world. We help organisations to make clear decisions, develop healthy and sustainable working practices, build stronger relationships and guide them towards having a good sense of where they’re going.

DecisionLab has been functioning sociocratically since January 2010. In 2014, the team included Nathaniel Whitestone, Louis Loizou, and Alan Jackson. The website also includes a blog by the consultants.

Asheville Movement Collective, North Carolina, US

Asheville Movement Collective logoThe Asheville Movement Collective began transitioning to sociocracy in 2010 after working with John Buck. Their vision, mission, aim:

VISION: A world that moves in harmony where all are free to be their authentic selves within a loving community.

MISSION: Inspiring authenticity and healthy community through free-form dance

AIM: Hosting dance waves for personal and community transformation

Summary of sociocracy as they use it and diagrams of their organizational structure:

Asheville Movement Collective Self-Governance System

School of Media, Culture, and Design, Woodbury University, US

Main hall of School of Media, Culture, and DesignThe School of Media, Culture, and Design, Woodbury University in Burbank, California, a few miles from Los Angeles, consists of five departments that are well-integrated with the large media industry in the area. After the accreditation auditors expressed concern over the governance and cooperation between the five departments of the School of Media in 2007, the dean suggested they adopt sociocracy/dynamic governance.  Enrollment was declining, there were no cross-disciplinary degrees, and management styles varied significantly. The department heads began working with sociocracy consultant John Buck.

A year later, the accreditation auditors praised the School’s governance as “unconventional and successful… worthy of study by other schools.”  By 2010, the tuition revenue was up 10% when the University enrollment had fallen 1%. In 2012, it was 26% above 2011. The school was also able to attract $3.5 million in grants.

According to Dean Eddie Clift, [sociocracy] creates a culture of respect and provides a new way to look at problems:

[Sociocracy] allowed people to focus on the reasons they came to work here in the first place—education and innovation. We saw improved quality of life for the faculty, including better work/life balance. We know—through increasing student enrollment, and increasing student placements in the industry thanks to a clearer connection with the industry—that we are providing a valuable education for our students. And best of all for me, my faculty and chairs are so effective now; they’re confident and satisfied with their work. The School basically runs itself. That makes my job a pleasure!

Based on a case history by the Sociocracy Consulting Group, “Collaboration and Trust Among Departments: Woodbury University, School of Media, Culture, and Design.”

 

Living Well Community Care Home

Living Well Community Care Home is an award winning elder care facility in Bristol, VT. It was transitioning to sociocracy (dynamic governance) before 2005, working with John Buck.

In 2012, Sheella Mierson, sociocracy consultant, and Alana Kann, author, wrote a case study of Living Well’s use of sociocracy/dynamic governance and how it has changed their organization. The article is available online:

Got DG? Healthy Transformation in an Elder Care Community

(Living Well Community Care Home is now a part of Ethan Allen Residence in Burlington, VT.)

 

Mondriaan for Mental Health

Update: It was reported in 2013 that Mondriann is no longer using all the principles and practices of the sociocratic circle-organization method but has devised a structure that accomplishes the same goals.

Mondriaan for Mental Health (Mondriaan for Mental Health Zorggroep Heerlen), a private institution, is one of the largest mental health treatment facilities in the Netherlands, providing inpatient and outpatient services to more than 14,000 adults, adolescents, and children in the province of Limburg in the south of the country. The organization is an accredited training and research institute for psychiatrists, psychologists, and nurse specialists. It has more than 2,300 employees in over 44 locations.

The institution merged several times from 2000-2007 but the six divisions were poorly integrated. Top-down management meant decisions about patients were made by those with little contact with patients. Information on treatment and procedure solutions were not shared across the organization. Meetings were so disorganized managers often made decisions without consultation. In the absence of effective leadership, some employees became leaders by default or personal forcefulness.

In 2004, the largest division of Mondriaan, the Integral Care Division in Parkstad, The Netherlands,  with 700 employees working in 44 teams in 2012, began training with the Sociocratic Center in Rotterdam (now the The Sociocracy Group, an international organization). One of their nurses, Dominique Ducornez, became a certified trainer and continues to do internal training.

With a radical departure from Mondriaan’s traditional hierarchical approach operations now function effectively. Teams now function as colleagues with everyone taking responsibility for successful outcomes; they put their protocols and procedures in writing; managers and employees respect all viewpoints when making decisions; policies and aims are more clearly understood; program evaluation and improvement are ongoing; teams are more cohesive; and decision-making is faster and smoother. Patient care has improved.

Based on a case history by Sheella Mierson of the Sociocracy Consulting Group, a division of The Sociocracy Group in Rotterdam, Netherlands , with the assistance of Dominique Ducornez, the certified sociocracy trainer at Mondriaan. A PDF of the case history is available online:

Original Description: Distributed  Leadership: Improved Patient Care at a Mental Health Care Treatment Facility.