The Sociocracy 7 principles give me hope
Sociocracy 3.0 boils my hope for the future down to seven statements. These principles provide such a powerful perspective on the foundations of better organizations. To me, so much of the world we need to make depends on us sharing and understanding how to make more of these ideas real.
A better future in 7 ideas
Effectiveness: Devote time only to what brings you closer towards achieving your objectives.
Consent: Do things in the absence of reasons not to.
Empiricism: Test all assumptions through experiments, continuous revision and falsification.
Continuous Improvement: Change incrementally to accommodate steady empirical learning.
Equivalence: People affected by decisions influence and change them on the basis of reasons to do so.
Transparency: All information is available to everyone in an organization, unless there is a reason for confidentiality.
Accountability: Respond when something is needed, do what you agreed to and take ownership for the course of the organization.
Making it real
Sociocracy brings with it a set of practices that allow them to be applied in your own organization. Achieving competency in all these areas takes time, we have to unlearn so many things, but the pay-off is huge.
Sociocracy 3.0 is amazing in that it really provides a broad set of tools that make these better ways of working possible. I find the depth of this system humbling…. and I have only just begun to explore it.
The Implicit Contract of Consent
In the absence of objections against an agreement, I intend to follow through on the agreement to the best of my ability.
I agree to share objections as I become aware of them.
It’s hard to unlearn enough to make this possible. It sounds so simple, but if you think about it, it’s the opposite of what we are used to. For so much of our lives we’ve had our initiative beaten out of us. We wait for someone with power to tell us it’s OK and then do enough to keep people happy — and keep our mouth shut to avoid trouble.
It is so rare that we find ourselves in a place that honours and respects our individual creativity that, for most of us, it simply does not exist. The act of creating this environment, and the practice of actually holding and operating it requires learning a whole new way of being in a collective. How do we even start?
Perhaps the only real way to begin this journey is to admit that we can’t do it alone? Asking for help when you need it is critical to this way of working, so you might as well start there.
Getting a team to accept this as a foundation to their work is going to take time and meditation. These ideas require some serious introspection to Grok, can you make the space at work for the contemplation that this needs?
Artful participation is a shared individual commitment. It’s a way of operating within the group that you need to uphold personally, and expect others to do the same. Like so much of the amazing power of Sociocracy, it captures the essence of what it takes to be part of a better organization.
An individual commitment to:
actively consider and follow-up on all agreements made, in the best way possible, given the circumstances
consciously balance personal needs with those of a team and organization as a whole
developing the necessary skills to do so
supporting others in doing the same
bringing impediments to the attention of others if necessary
Community makes individuality possible
The process of creating a collaborative environment requires that we know how to operate autonomously. I love the way in which collaboration and autonomy, when celebrated fully, are two sides of the same coin.
values offer guidance to determine appropriate action, even in the absence of explicit agreements
• defining values is a strategy that supports effectiveness of an organization:
• reduces potential for misunderstanding
• aligns decision making and action
• attracts new members, partners and customers who are aligned with the organization
• values are an agreement and thus subject to regular review
Change when you need it
It’s hard trying to get an organization to change. It creates lots more work, and can really slow things down. The cultural shifts required to introduce these new ways of working will challenge many of the existing approaches people may have to their roles — and they will create pain. So do it in little bits.
Create a Pull-System For Organizational Change
Change things when there is value in doing so.
Create an environment that invites and enables members of the organization to drive change:
• bring in patterns that solve current and important problems
• don’t break what’s already working!
• meet everyone where they are…
• …and let them choose their own pace
• consider making all change voluntary!
Pattern 5.2: Create a Pull-System For Organizational Change Change things when there is value in doing so. Create an environment that invites and enables members of the organization to drive change: • bring in patterns that solve current and important problems • don’t break what’s already working! • meet everyone where they are… • …and let them choose their own pace • consider making all change voluntary!
Everything is an experiment.
We don’t have the answers, and we never will, get over it. Abandoning the idea of best practice and seeing all our actions as experiments is fundamental to any new organization.
Learn to run good experiments. It’s a practice that we should start learning in primary school. (But, since even a 7 year old knows everything, it’s not easy to teach to the kids!)
An ongoing personal journey
I’m still expanding my understanding of Sociocracy. This post is not quite complete yet, as it’s a little bit of a scratchpad for my study. If you got this far… maybe you could return again to have another look soon.