Tag Archives: business

Sociocracy at Endenburg Elektrotechniek

Statement from the Endenburg Elektrotechniek Website about their sociocratic governance:

A Circle Meeting at Endenburg Elektrotechniek
A Circle Meeting at Endenburg Elektrotechniek

The word “sociocracy” is derived from the Latin word socius,  neighbor or fellow, and the Greek word kratein, to rule. As a form of governance, sociocracy is based the equivalence of individuals, but not in the sense that “the majority rules,” as in democracy. In sociocracy a decision may only be made if one has a well-founded counter-argument. (This is called the consent principle). Sociocracy offers the individual thus more participation in decisions. So much for the theory.

At Endenburg we have known the sociocratic tradition since the 1970s. Our employees have a voice in policy, and that happens through service (department) circles, business (management) circles, and the top circle. In the service circles, all employees meet with their departments. The business circle formed by MT members and elected representatives from the service circles. In addition, we have a so-called Top Circle which includes the management, delegates from the business circle, and external experts.

Our sociocratic foundation leads in practice to greater involvement and job satisfaction among employees. This is demonstrated by the quality of service. And thus the contributions of sociocracy also contributes to better work for our clients.

The Original in Dutch:

De term sociocratie is afgeleid van het Latijnse woord ‘socius‘ (= medemens) en het Griekse woord ‘kratein‘ (=regeren). Als bestuursvorm gaat sociocratie uit van de gelijkwaardigheid van individuen, maar niet in de betekenis dat ‘de meeste stemmen gelden‘, zoals bij democratie. Bij sociocratie kan een besluit alleen genomen worden als niemand een gefundeerd tegenargument heeft. (Dit noemt men het consentbeginsel). Sociocratie biedt het individu dus meer beslissingsinspraak. Tot zover de theorie.

Bij Endenburg kennen we sinds de jaren 1970 een sociocratische traditie. Onze medewerkers hebben zeggenschap in het beleid, en dat gebeurt via de dienstkringen, bedrijfskring en topkring. In de dienstkringen hebben alle medewerkers zitting van de betreffende afdeling, de bedrijfskring wordt gevormd door MT leden en gekozen afgevaardigden vanuit de dienstkringen. Daarnaast kennen we een zogenaamde TopKring waarin o.a. de directie, afgevaardigden vanuit de bedrijfskring en externe deskundigen zitting hebben.

Onze sociocratische grondslag leidt in de praktijk tot grotere betrokkenheid en meer werkplezier bij de medewerkers. Dit werkt aantoonbaar door in de kwaliteit van de dienstverlening. En daarmee draagt sociocratie ook voor onze opdrachtgevers bij aan ‘het betere werk.‘

http://www.endenburg.nl/endenburg-profiel.php?item=7 Last accessed  2 September 2012.


Are Sociocratic Corporations Legal?

Sociocratic corporations are perfectly legal. All the laws that constrain corporate functioning can be met while applying sociocratic values, principles, and methods.

Laws governing corporations, both for profit and not for profit, are generally written to prevent abuses that corporations have committed in the past, often with investors’ or donors’ money. In writing the law, the government is presenting its solution to that problem. If you can determine what the law intended to prevent, you will have a good guide to functioning within the law and build a sociocratic structure.

For example, in the US, there is often a requirement that the Board of Directors function by majority vote. The law was intended to ensure that “at least” a majority were in favor of an action. It is a minimum standard, not a maximum standard. Consent contains within it the majority. There is no contradiction in the numbers.

Corporate legislation requires an organization to have a Board of Directors with full authority to govern the organization, but the board can delegate its authority. This is what higher circles do when they create lower circles.

The legal protection for investors and donors is that if the lower circles do not carry out their delegated duties, the Board has the authority to take control. The Board can delegate authority as long as it retains responsibility for the results. This is also perfectly sociocratic since a higher circle can decide to eliminate a lower circle that is not functioning properly.

Even if you are confronting an old law that protected someone 200 years ago, however, the worst thing you can do is to try to convince the government that they are wrong at the same time you are trying to become incorporated. Get legally incorporated, then demonstrate the superiority of the sociocratic structure. Until you have done that, no one will listen to you.

We had this problem with cohousing communities getting approved by town zoning boards. Most cohousing communities are legally structured as condominiums. There are very clear laws about “common interest” real estate in which each owner has a percentage interest. Instead of explaining how the cohousing project met all the legal requirements for condominiums and was financially sound, groups were going to banks and zoning boards talking about shared meals, consensus decision-making, supportive environments for children, changing the world, recycling, etc.

This information was distracting the banks and boards and creating uncertainty about totally sound real estate developments. Cohousing groups were routinely turned down until they found a conventional developing partner, a very sympathetic banker, or began sounding like the legally established condominium that they were.

To ensure that you are both within the law and not undermining the self-optimizing sociocratic structure, you only need a lawyer and a sociocratic consultant with the level of training required to set up a complex organization.