Sociocracy is a consent (and not consensus) based management approach
Also called 'Dynamic Governance'.
"Sociocracy is both:
A social ideal that values equality and the rights of people to determine the conditions under which they live and work, and A method of organizing effective, harmonious, and collaborative organizations—businesses, and governments, large and small. The uniqueness of sociocracy in a democratic society is that it is not just a statement of the values of freedom and equality or the right to self-determination. Sociocracy goes deeper. It is a method of implementation. Unlike democracy, it can be used in all our organizations: public, private, business, and social. It uses inclusiveness and coöperation to help organizations increase harmony, effectiveness, and productivity.
Sociocracy is derived from sociology, the scientific study of societies or groups of people. It is based on the belief and experience that people who know and work together are more likely to make good decisions for themselves than a vast sea of voters or lawmakers.
Sociocracy guarantees a society in which freedom and equality are determined by the people who have an active role in consenting to a deeper democracy." (http://Sociocracy.info/about-sociocracy/what-is-sociocracy)
How Sociocracy Works
See also http://Sociocracy.info/about.html
"The sociocratic method is a way of giving form to our lives and society. The sociocratic method is an "empty" (or "generalized") method. That is, it can be applied to every kind of organization. The sociocratic method starts from the concept that people are unequal, unique persons who should be equivalent by decision-making.
The Dutch businessman who developed sociocracy, Gerard Endenburg, has been striving to create a system that maintains equivalence" between participating members. He come up with these FOUR MAIN PRINCIPLES used to form a sociocratic organization:
- Governance by Consent, Circle Organization, Double Linking and Elections by Consent
("Selection of People to Roles and Responsibilities by Consent after Open Discussion")
Governance by Consent: The consent principle says that a decision can only be made when none of the circle members present has a reasoned, substantial objection to making the decision. The consent principle is different than "consensus" and "veto." With consensus the participants must be "for" the decision. With consent decision-making they must be not against. With consensus a veto blocks the decision without an argument. With consent decision making, opposition must always be supported with an argument. Every decision doesn't require consent, but consent must exist concerning an agreement to make decisions regularly through another method. Thus, many decisions are not made by consent. Rather, with consent, persons or groups are given the authority to make independent decisions. Consent can also be used with non-human elements.
Circle Organization: The organization arranges for a decision making structure, built from mutually double-linked circles, in which consent governs. This decision-making structure includes all members of the organization. Each circle has its own aim, performs the three functions of directing, operating and measuring (feedback), and maintains its own memory system by means of integral education. A good way to evaluate how well a circle is functioning is to use 9-block charting. Every circle formulates its own vision, "mission statement" and aim/objective (which must fit in with the vision, mission and aim of the organization as a whole and with the vision, mission and aim of all the other circles in the organization).
Double-Linking: Coupling a circle with the next higher circle is handled through a double link. That is, at least two persons, the Functional Leader of the circle and at least one representative of the circle, also belong to the next higher circle.
Sociocratic Elections: Choosing people for functions and/or responsibilities is done by consent after an open discussion. The discussion is very important because it uncovers pertinent information about the members of the circle.
(some changes made to the above, as suggested by Sharon Villines of Sociocracy.info)
Some agreements he has come up with besides the four main principles are:
- No secrets may be kept
- Everything is open to discussion - limits of an exec's power, policy decisions, personnel decisions, investment policy, profit distribution, all rules....
- Everyone has a right to be part of a decision that affects them.
- Every decision may be reexamined at any time
Another important element that is not one of the four basic principles is that sociocratic organizations are connected to outside organizations by external double links. Also the top circle has outside "experts" as members. These experts sometimes come from other circles within the organization." (http://TwinOaks.org/clubs/sociocracy/reasons.html)
History of the Sociocratic Circle-organization Method
Kees Boeke, a Dutch educator and pacifist, originally envisioned sociocracy in 1945 as a way to adapt Quaker egalitarian principles to secular organizations. Gerard Endenburg, a pupil of Kees Boeke, developed Boeke's vision into a body of well-tested procedures and practical principles. After World War II, Gerard Endenburg's parents (Socialists before the War) established a company to try out their advanced ideas about management. Gerard trained as an electrical engineer, gained expertise in cybernetics (the science of steering and control), and worked briefly for Philips Electronics before accepting his father's challenge to manage a small, failing business he had purchased.In less than a year Gerard had made the business profitable and merged it with his father's company. When his father retired in the late 1960s, Gerard became manager of Endenburg Electrotechniek with the mandate to run it both as a profitable business and as a real time laboratory for testing innovative management ideas. Sociocracy is a product of that experience. Gerard has retired from day-to-day management of Endenburg Electrotechniek to devote his time to running the Sociocratisch Centrum, a consulting business that assists a wide variety of companies and organizations to implement Sociocracy. Gerard is also a professor at the Economic Science and Industry Department of the University of Maastricht where Sociocracy is part of the curriculum and academic practice. He holds a chair in "The Learning Organization, Specifically the Sociocratic Circle Organization".
(was at now dead link: TwinOaks.org/clubs/sociocracy/reasons.html)
Difference between Consensus vs. Consent
"Consensus is a good idea. So why am I trying to sell you Consent and Sociocracy instead of Consensus? Well, one reason is that one of the people who laid sociocracy on me has been a Quaker for many decades and is quite familiar with consensus and she believes that consent works more efficiently, at least, for her group, in their situation. She is also part of an ecovillage that struggled along with consensus for three years and had a lot of problems. Here is a quote from their website: "Initially the group used consensus to make their decisions. This proved inefficient and exhausting and led to serious rifts. Introducing sociocracy was a relief. The group became more efficient and subsequently has been able to make many difficult decisions in harmony with one another."
This may not be the case for every group that uses consensus. The size of the group, their backgrounds, and their aims could make consensus a more appropriate choice. Sociocracy is a fully developed model of governance. It's hard for me to picture mainstream corporations replacing their autocratic decision-making processes with consensus, whereas the sociocratic model is similar to a lot of theories that have been developed in the field of organization development in the last few decades, especially 'learning organizations.' I don't know how most organizations that use consensus structure their governments, but the sociocratic model provides a well-defined set of patterns and agreements to use to obtain optimal equivalence. Sociocracy resembles organic systems. I've been looking around to try to create a list of qualities of organic systems.
What I've come up with is:
- Cooperative mutual dependence (networks)
- Any holon is never completely independent (hierarchy)
- Changes constantly
- Expresses Diversity
- Cannot be controlled and dominated
- Self-maintaining and self-renewing (Autopoietic)
Capra discussed four principles of sustainability:
- The cyclical nature of ecologies
- Partnership - the tendency to associate, establish links, live inside one another, and cooperate
- Flexibility and diversity"
— Michel Bauwens, quoting from an old Twin Oaks discussion and
See also: Holacracy
The Sociocracy site maintained by Sharon Villes and John Buck, at https://www.sociocracy.info/
- Gregg Kendrick about Sociocracy/ Dynamic Governance in the workplace Video by Torsten Hardiess published on 24 Jan 2012
- Beyond Democracy 3 -- How Sociocracy works Video from Ted Millich published on 29 Nov 2012
- What is sociocracy? from Sociocracy For All:
- Pioneer Valley Governance part1 talk on sociocracy by Diana Leafe Christian
Comparisons between holacracy and sociocracy:
- Book: Sociocracy: A New Power Structure for Ethical Governance. By John Buck and Sharon Villines.