There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. … You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
Literally, sociocracy means the sovereignty of the socius: I myself, the next person, the alter ego, the otherness. From a structural point of view this corresponds with the definition of sociocracy as a situation where the principle of consent predominates or is socially all–determining in the sense that it governs the making of decisions at all levels of society. The sociocratic circle organization is a cybernetic means of making this possible and then, as a dynamic balance, it maintains, regulates, and develops it.
From Sociocracy as Social Design by Gerard Endenburg (English Translation, 1998)
A hierarchy is very efficient. For example, during a crisis, a leader can issue life-saving orders; but it comes with inherent problems. In addition to the equitability issues involved with a hierarchical structure, innovative ideas from the bottom of the hierarchy don’t make their way to the top, creating stagnation. On the other hand, a grassroots approach, where all individuals have equal voice and power, creates a lot of great ideas, but typically lacks the efficiency to be highly productive; especially in a school where teachers can end up with overwhelming administrative responsibilities and “political” concerns in addition to their classroom duties. Dynamic Governance is a sophisticated “both/and” approach to structuring an organization. It makes appropriate use of the efficiency of a hierarchy, yet at specific times the hierarchy dissolves and everyone has an equal voice for making decisions by consent. Dynamic Governance, if instituted adeptly, melts toxicity, and gives everyone the motivation, power, and tools to be highly innovative and productive. It’s truly the best of both worlds.
Nate Whitestone says he’s seeing increasing uptake in organizational models like sociocracy and workplace democracy, demonstrating valuable new ways to organize. Combined with the development of broader community collaboration, like crowdsourcing, gives Whitestone hope that large-scale social change is possible.
“It makes it really clear that top down is not the only way,” he says. “I genuinely do believe that’s the biggest lever that needs to be pulled. That just needs to happen, everywhere.”
“Changing the World by Changing the Way We Make Decisions” by Camille Jensen. Axiom News, Monday, 8 August 2011.
To transform companies into models that encourage broader decision-making and ownership over one’s work, it’s essential to create a governance system defined by key principles that hard-wires process into an organization so if there are changes in management, the model doesn’t evaporate.
Having a right to participate means being recognized by the state as having an entitlement to be informed and involved. Making that right calls for amplifying and channeling citizen voices on the one hand and strengthening the state accountability on the other. Reinventing peoples´ role in this way—”from users and choosers to makers and shapers”— has profound implications for how citizens come to be seen by the state.
In “Revisiting Governance” in Repùblica, 31 July 2011.
No one can expect the spirit of involvement and partnership to flourish without an abundance of information available even to the most humble employee. I know all the arguments against a policy of full disclosure. … But the advantages of openness and truthfulness far outweigh the disadvantages. And a company that doesn’t share information when times are good loses the right to request solidarity and concessions when they aren’t.
Quotation on one value of transparency is from Maverick (1993, p. 136). Maverick was originally published in Portuguese as Turning the Tables in 1988.
Democracy is a lot of work, I kept telling myself and anyone else who would listen. It needs to be exercised with conviction and without subterfuge or exception. And it begins with the little things, like neckties, time clocks, parking spaces, and petroleum blue uniforms.
Ricardo Semler in Maverick, 1993, p. 136.
Maverick was originally published in Portuguese as Turning the Tables in 1988.
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.