Sociocracy – a permaculture way to organise?

Sociocracy – the term means ‘collaborative governance’ – hard-wires ‘People Care’ and ‘Fair Share’ into the fabric of an organisation by ensuring that every member has an equivalent voice in policy. Like other living systems a sociocratic organisation relies on cyclical feedback processes to stay in tune with its members and its environment. Some call Sociocracy ‘organisational permaculture’.

To be sociocratic an organisation has to follow four principles:

Governance by consent
A decision can only be made when none of the circle members has a reasoned, paramount objection based on the aims of the circle or the organisation.

Organisation in circles
Circles are self-organising groups of people who decide by consent how they go about what they have to do. Sociocracy does recognise organisational hierarchy, but power is distributed through the hierarchy by double linking of circles.

Double-linking between circles
Circles share at least two members; the operational leader from the upper circle and a representative from the lower circle. With the power of consent they act as a feedback and moderation loop.

Sociocratic elections to roles
Choosing people for functions in a circle (facilitator, secretary or whatever roles are needed) is done by a special consent process based on reasoned nominations in a go-round.

Sociocracy also offers a range of tools based on a lead-do-measure cycle. Together with the four principles these create a unique climate for effective participatory management. It requires learning and getting used to, but some elements can be introduced step by step. Elections by consent can be revealing and fun. Separating policy from operations decisions can be an ‘Ahh!’ moment for management.

Lead Do Measure cycle

Policy and operations
Sociocracy distinguishes policy – the clear and measurable aims that would realise the vision of the organization – from operations – the tasks needed to carry out those aims.

Sociocratic consent (“Does anyone have a paramount objection?”) does not allow a blunt veto. It has to be made clear that the decision would not be in the interest of the organisation. However, concerns and objections are valued – they can lead to wiser and more creative solutions.

Also known as ‘dynamic governance’, sociocracy is used in organisations in Australia, Brazil, the United States, Canada, and in many European counties. It is new to the UK but interest is growing.

Further information

Connections between Holgrem’s Permaculture Principles and Sociocracy

‘We the People’ by John Buck and Sharon Villines – the English language manual – a UK social network – more explanation and links

Posted: May 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

One Comment on “Sociocracy – a permaculture way to organise?”

  1. 1 Sociocracy Workshop, Brisbane (March 2012) Permaculture Research Institute said at 1:45 pm on February 27th, 2012:

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