Tag Archives: definitions

Policy Decisions

The Heading of the Constitution of the United States.
The United States Constitution is an example of a policy statement. It states in broad terms what the government can and can’t do. It demonstrates that a policy statement can be amended. It can also be interpreted in differing ways as the meaning of words change. Most policy statements are much more easily updated than a nation’s constitution.

Policy decisions are defined in management theory as those decisions that define the basic principles of the organization and determine how it will develop and function in the future. Policies set the limits within which operational decisions are made. Examples include:

  • Vision, Mission, Aim
  • Budget and Finance Practices
  • Allocation of Resources
  • Organizational Structure
Policy decisions limit the actions an organization and its members can take without changing the policy.
In sociocracy, policy decisions are made by consent. Operational decisions are made within the limits set by policy decisions and may be made autocratically by the person in charge or by other means determined by the people whom the decisions affect.

Examples of Policy Statements

We set policies in our everyday lives without realizing it or writing them down. Examples include:

  • Deciding not to drink coffee or consume animal products
  • Pledging to complete  tax forms before their due date
  • Sending your children to public schools by choice
  • Deciding not to have children to devote time to political causes

In non-profit organizations the policies might include:

  • Following the IRS regulations that set requirements for 501c3 status to receive tax-deductible contributions
  • Limiting membership to professionals with a demonstrated expertise
  • Serving meals to the homeless
  • Using contributions only for administrative costs and not staff salaries

In business they might include:

  • Annual and departmental budgets
  • Employee compensation schedules
  • Union agreements
  • Future donations of money and employee time to charitable causes
  • Production of certain products and not others
  • Limiting sales and marketing to retail or wholesale customers

These are all decisions that define the scope of day-to-day  decisions about how we will conduct our personal or work lives, our operations.

Frustration with Sociocracy at the DMOZ

The DMOZ is not the Division of Motor Vehicles nor the Demilitarized Zone but it was certainly a land mine for the better part of my afternoon. The DMOZ is the Open Directory Project (ODP) founded in 1998 to build a directory of the World Wide Web—all the websites in the world.

Update: As of 17 March 2017, DMOZ is no longer active. That means this post is now history but the question is still the same—Where does sociocracy fit?

I’m assured by WooRanks (another long story) that if I can get Sociocracy.info listed, it will improve its page ranking in all the search engines in the world. “An ODP listing in the DMOZ will improve our SEO.” (How would that be  for a Saturday accomplishment?)

DMOZ and the Future of Sociocracy

Getting Sociocracy.info into the DMOZ was a noble venture, however, and good for the future of sociocracy. DMOZ is attempting to categorize directory listings and to judge their worthiness. Purely marketing or copycat sites need not apply. Everything is tidily evaluated and organized. That is where I watched the rest of my afternoon sink into eternity.

The first step to submitting an application is to choose a category. Having settled myself on the stick-to-the-basics-name sociocracy, rather than Dynamic Governance or Direct Democracy or anything else more pleasing to the American ear, I am still confronted with the “What is it?” question. In this instance, it requires a one-word response, a category name.

The DMOZ today lists 5,005,675 sites and has 94,395 editors who organize the listings into over 1,010,167 categories. If I persisted, I was certain to find the perfect place for Sociocracy.info.

 Where should Sociocracy Be Placed?

First consideration: Should sociocracy be under Society or Social Sciences.  When I clicked on Society, I was confronted with possible subcategories of Government, Organizations, Philosophy, and Politics, which were listed along with Activism, Economics, Lifestyle Choices, Subcultures, and Work. The distinction between Govern-ment and “Govern-ance” was nowhere to be seen.

Society > Organizations led to real organizations in the areas of Advocacy, Education, Parenting, etc. No organizational theory sites.  I clicked on again.

While it certainly has a philosophical base, sociocracy didn’t fit under Philosophy because that category led to Aesthetics, Ethics, and the like. The Philosophy of Mind. I tried Political Philosophy but that led to Anarchism and the dreaded Socialism. Libertarianism? That led to Anarcho-Capitalism.

Social Sciences looked promising because it led to Management Science. Good, I thought. Perfect. Sociocracy is a  management science that can be applied to any kind of organization. All organizations need management. But when I clicked on Management Science, I was ejected out of Social Sciences into Business. Management sits alongside Accounting, Customer Service, and on and on.

I tried to just go with Social Sciences but the fine print said it was for academic websites only. Those that are “research oriented,” code words for “college professors and their academic departments.” They own the field, I guess. And DMOZ probably thinks “Who else would care?”

The Best Fit Is Not Quite Right

The best fit in terms of near neighbors was Democracy because all the sites listed there were challenging the same notions. I believe sociocracy is what democracy could be, that it accomplishes the aims of democracy better and more broadly. Actually calling sociocracy democracy felt like quicksand.

This clicking on categories and following possible choices went on and on, just as this post is about to do. No other entry containing sociocracy surfaced on the search engine, so I couldn’t take the easy way out and stick with someone else’s forced choice.

I was in uncharted waters.

I finally sent in an application to be listed under Management Sciences, still frustrated with the association only with Business. The lesson was a revealing one, however, because it highlighted the “What is Sociocracy?” problem more clearly. By being more than democracy, has no category. Or no single category.

Edited 7 April 2017