Diana Leafe Christian wrote:Regarding Sociocracy, aka Dynamic Governance, I know a little about it — and would like to know a lot more. It's a governance system with interlocking committees as well as a decision-making method. (By interlocking committees I mean that one member of a committee participates on the next higher-up level of committees, so there's an excellent flow of information and ideasl through all the committees.)
I disagree though, that Sociocracy "an improvement on the consensus model." Actually, as I understand it, the "consent" method of making decisions in Sociocracy is the same as the decision-making method of consensus when consensus is working well and the people using it (and their facilitator) have been well-trained in how to use it.
What Sociocracy's "consent" decision-making model is an improvement on is pseudoconsensus! That's my term for when the group using consensus has not been trained, or only partially trained, or trained by someone who themselves doesn't really "get it" that consensus is not a religion or the Holy Grail which all need to worship, but rather a simple decision-making tool that is supposed to serve us, not the other way around!
I define pseudoconsensus as a deicison-making method in which the group members believe (and practice):
(1) If we use consensus each of us must all 100% love the proposal before we can approve it (as compared to "some of us love it, some of us like it, and all of us can live with it").
(2) "We're going to stay here in this room, no matter how long it takes, until we reach agreement!" (Which I call "Decision by Endurance.")
(3) Every matter we decide must be decided by the whole group.
(4) Every decision we make must be made by consensus.
(5) We can only have one decision-making method, and that's consensus.
(6) It's OK to block a proposal because of one's personal values, beliefs, lifestyle choices, and so on (as compared to the group's explicitly stated and written down values, beliefs, and lifestyle choices.)
As I understand it, the "consent" ("I consent to this proposal.") method of Sociocracy is similar if not identical to the way well-functioning consensus works, in which some of us love the proposal, some of us like it, some of us aren't sure yet but we trust the others in the group who advocate it, and some of us can live with it. In other words, we pass the proposal because we can all live with it.
The folks at Legacy Farm Cohousing in New York State use Sociocracy and love it. So do the folks at Ecovillage at Loudon County, a cohousing community in Virginia. So I'm surely not wanting to take anything away from this excellent self-governance and decision-making tool.
I just want to point out that comparing Sociocracy and how well it functions to the worst of the most mal-functioning pseudoconsensus and saying it functions better than consensus isn't comparing apples and apples.
Meanwhile, though I do a Consensus & Facilitation Training myself (and am doing one in upstate New York next week), I'm eager to learn the Sociocracy method too. I don't think one can know too much about functional, practical methods of community self-governance and decision-making!
Diana Leafe Christian
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