Tag Archives: Nathaniel Whitestone

Nathaniel Whitestone, UK

Nathan Whitestone Nathaniel Whitestone is a certified sociocratic consultant based in England. He is a Director of the international development consultancy Aptivate in the UK, and is a co-founder of Genius Engine, an international management consultancy and game design firm. He has worked in the area of organizational development and transformation since 1996.

He developed his expertise in supporting personal transformation and creating high-quality relationships over three years of training with shamans in the American Southwest and another two years of apprenticeship with pioneering psychologists Drs. C.G. and Kathlyn Hendricks. He has served as steering-committee member of the Global Ecovillage Network and editor at the World Business Academy,

Nathaniel’s LinkedIn Page.

Videos on Sociocracy by People Using It

The  Sociocracy Consulting Group website  has a collection a of resources including videos explaining sociocracy and featuring people who are using sociocracy in their organizations.  A sampling of those available is listed below. At this writing they are all on one page, just scroll down to find the ones you would like to watch. (The links within each listing are to the organizations represented, not the videos.)

  • Excerpts from Ted Millich’s documentary Beyond Democracy.
  • Paul Kervick from Living Well, an award-winning health care organization in Bristol MA.
  • Renee Owen, Executive Director of Rainbow Mountain Children’s School in Asheville, NC.
  • Clips of several members of a permaculture group, Lost Valley Educational Center and intentional community.
  • A series of videos by Nathaniel Whitestone of Aptivate and Decision Lab in Great Britain that introduce the principles and methods of sociocracy. Nathaniel is also very involved with cooperative organizations in the UK.

There are also a number of videos on  YouTube, including copies of these, though at this point the ones collected at the Sociocracy Consulting site are the most accurate and useful.

Please let us know if you find additional videos. We would like to index them so people can find them. The examples of organizations using sociocracy are growing exponentially so it is difficult to track them.

Sociocracy and Large Scale Social Change

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.

 

Aptivate Adopts Sociocracy

Changing the World by Changing the Way We Make Decisions

Sociocracy, participatory decision-making creates systems that allow people to express full potential, says consultant

Monday August 08, 2011 — Camille Jensen,  AxiomNews

While there are countless ways to better the world, Decision Lab facilitator Nathanial Whitestone says changing how we make decisions is the most critical and profound change we could make.

Co-founding Decision Lab one year ago, Whitestone says the U.K.-based organization aims to accelerate better decision-making in organizations by introducing models that encourage participatory decision-making and improved communication flows.

“At every point we are able to fix things technologically,” says Whitestone. “The key for me is every person having control over the way they work . . . . You can’t fully express yourself, fully express the gifts you have in life, if you don’t have input on the design of how you express them.”

To transform companies into models that encourage broader decision-making and ownership over one’s work, Whitestone says 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.

A model Whitestone has seen work with small and large companies alike is sociocracy, also known as dynamic governance. Based on four principles, the model involves consent-based decision-making among circles, which act as semi-autonomous policy making and working groups comprised of departments or teams.

Each circle has its own aim and directs its work by performing all the functions of leading, doing and measuring its operations. The circles share at least two members; an operational leader from an upper circle and a representative from a lower circle to ensure greater feedback and self regulation.

Whitestone says a powerful testament to sociocracy — it’s also the model used to govern Decision Lab — came when working with the organization Aptivate. The innovative and values-based organization that provides IT and participatory services for international development had slipped into the habit of decision-making by endurance, where board members stayed up late arguing about the best way forward. Any Aptivate board member not interested in a late night failed to have their voice heard.

The approach was resulting in exhausted board members, a lack of people wanting to serve on the board and declining staff engagement.

Working with Decision Lab, Aptivate began to implement sociocratic design to introduce formal decision-making processes based on consensus. Within three years, the company embraced a culture where everyone’s voices are heard, meetings end on time and, most importantly, people want to participate in board-level decision-making.

When some of Aptivate’s most experienced managers left for positions at prominent development organizations like the World Bank and the International Aid Transparency Initiative, the team used its well-structured participatory decision-making process to collaborate effectively, learn necessary business skills and develop new work. Describing Aptivate’s response as powerful, Whitestone commends the company for turning a loss into an opportunity.

“Six months after that happened the biggest problem was fitting all the work into their schedule and hiring quality people fast enough,” he says.

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.”


If you have feedback on this article, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051 or e-mail camille(at)axiomnews.ca.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Aptivate, Cambridge, England, UK

“Ethical IT for International Development”

Aptivate company logoWebsite and software developers providing technical  support for international development initiatives by other non-profits, charities, NGOs, facilitators, and trainers. Aptivate provides hosting services and advice on strategy, policy, implementation and procurement and build robust, accessible and usable software, mobile and web services. Specializes in low-bandwidth solutions for the web .

Mission

Aptivate believes in the power of knowledge and communication to alleviate poverty, suffering and conflict, and in the right of every individual to inform and be informed.

We are dedicated to developing ICT services that facilitate communication for unconnected communities, empowering ordinary people across the developing world to improve their lives.

Policy Statements

Our Ethical Policy
Aptivate’s ethical policy exists to ensure we stay true to our mission. Every project we undertake should help us achieve our goals. Sometimes it is necessary to turn down a project or proposal because we feel that it does not fit into our ethical framework or does not advance our mission. We evaluate proposals against our ethical policy, and our staff collectively decide on whether the organisation should pursue them.

Our Environmental Policy
Climate change already affects the livelihoods of many people across the developing world, often the poorest and most vulnerable. Organisations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have called for significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and other polluting activities to avert potentially catastrophic consequences.

We believe that climate change must be considered when evaluating activities related to development. While most human activities involve some level of environmental impact, it is necessary to consider this against the perceived benefits of an activity, reduce impact where possible and find alternatives if necessary.

We are committed to reduce our own environmental impact by:

  • using alternatives to travel, such as conferencing technology;
  • using alternative means of transport to short-haul flights;
  • shutting down IT systems when not in use;
  • investigating ways to mitigate the pollution generated by the manufacture, running and disposal of IT equipment;
  • recycling or re-using all possible office consumables;
  • engaging with other organisations on the issue of climate change.

Nathaniel Whitestone of Decision Lab transformed their “decision-making by endurance” in which those how couldn’t last all night had no voice by implementing over a three year period a sociocratic design with formal processes and decentralized power.

Changing the World by Changing the Way We Make Decisions“, AxiomNews. Accessed 8 Aug 2011. Features an interview with Nathan Whitestone of Decision Lab.

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.