Mapping sociocracy to permaculture

As a follow-up to my blog A permaculture way to organise? here are some connections between Holgrem’s Permaculture principles and Sociocratic organisation:

Observe and interact

  • The basic Sociocratic process ‘lead-do-measure’ is a feedback loop of designing, acting, observing the effect of your action and modifying your action to improve the design.
  • The design (part of the ‘lead’) should always be based on observation of prevailing conditions.

Catch and store energy

  • People’s creative and organisational energies are encouraged through the process of consent, and by double links between circles.
  • Being able to modify their own policies, circles store the organisational improvements they make.

Obtain a yield

  • The intended yield is written into the aims of the organisation and of each circle.
  • Short feedback loops increase the likelihood of capturing yields, by meeting aims.

Apply self-regulation and accept feedback

  • Self-regulation is the basic sociocratic ‘lead-do-measure’ process.
  • It can be applied at every level of organisation from values of the organisation, to ordering supplies of tea and coffee (if appropriate!)
  • The election process within circles encourages openness when filling roles.
  • Most meetings have a quick evaluation process.

Use and value renewable resources and services

  • Organisational processes can be reviewed and retained if they are useful and successful.
  • The value of people is inherent in the double-linked circle structure and consent process.
  • As Sociocracy refers to the aims of the organisation, so earth care would be an embodied value in a sociocratic Permaculture organisation.

Produce no waste

  • Sociocracy offers a workflow modelling process that builds in feedback and iterative learning (step-by-step improvements)
  • It also makes it easier to track outputs and match them to inputs from other organisational processes.

Design from patterns to details

  • Sociocracy distinguishes policy and operations
  • Policy sets the aims (and pattern) of a circle’s activities.
  • Operations are the detailed work.

Integrate rather than segregate

  • This is inherent in double-linked circles making decisions by consent.
  • People are brought into decision-making across layers of an organisation.

Use small and slow solutions

  • Self-managing teams are largely autonomous in relation to their immediate work
  • They can be nimble and responsive in making small and necessary changes.
  • Sociocracy doesn’t make an organisation slow, but member influence can be a brake on unwise sudden changes.

Use edges and value the marginal

  • Sociocracy uses double-linking to couple the organisation to its stakeholders and every group within the organisation to every other.
  • This produces an organisation that is, like a Permaculture garden, made up of edge.

Creatively use and respond to change

  • Sociocracy brings tools that specifically support transformative and creative learning.
  • The consent process encourages the best thinking of a circle.

For more information about Sociocracy, see:
sociocracyuk.ning.com – a UK social network
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociocracy – explanation and links
governance.server306.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Creative-Forces-of-Self-Organization1.pdf – a detailed description of Sociocracy