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Anyone have any experience with sociocracy?  RSS feed

 
Erin Newell
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Location: Vancouver, BC
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New intentional community (5 adults) looking for a model to follow that works better than the sloppy consensus we've been using. Anyone have experience with sociocracy? Or (long shot, maybe!) The Way of the Council?
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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good question...sorry I don't have an answer, just bumping up the thread
 
Fred Winsol
Posts: 155
Location: Sierras
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Consensus processes are under scrutiny by many communities. From my experience at a few ecoVillages, seems that consensus minus 3 or 4 seems to work for some people. I think Diana Christian has some great articles on the subject.
http://www.ic.org/busting-the-myth-that-consensus-with-unanimity-is-good-for-communities/
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Fred,

Have you looked into or contact a "Quaker Faith Group" this is a foundational element of there belief system...it works relatively well if I am understanding what you are asking...
 
Topher Belknap
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Location: Midcoast Maine (zone 5b)
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I like 'consensus once everyone is unable to continue honest arguing'. One person who feels very passionately about vetoing something should be able to do so. Just shy of the level of, 'if you do this, I am leaving'. 3 people who are opposed but not willing to exert more effort should not be able to do so. Note, this is reliant to some extent on people arguing for their opinions commensurate with their true feelings, which hasn't been a problem (that I have noticed) with the groups I have run. It might be a problem if you have some shy people and some assertive people, and you may need to have everyone agree that some arguers get weighted on that basis (this is normally something I do in my head).

The next suggestion I would make is, differentiate between, 'I don't want this to happen in my community', and 'I don't want to have to do this'. The former is a reason not to do it. The latter merely an indication that the work needs to come from the proponents. Someone claiming just 'I don't want to have to do this' no longer gets a veto, and should abstain from the discussion.

Thirdly, for a project, it is not enough for everyone to want it to happen. It needs to have a champion, someone willing to see it done. Many great projects died in committee due to this rule, better that than they eroded the community in lackadaisical effort and failure.
 
Upgeya Pew
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Location: Pacific Northwest
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I've been studying governance for a number of years now. I really like Dynamic Governance (aka Sociocracy), as it gives a group a way to move forward without unanimity, but with respecting dissension. Unlike consensus, it is based on consent (no objection), rather than agreement. Unlike consensus, it is dynamic, rather than static. Unlike consensus, it asks dissenters to take responsibility for their objections.

It requires that a group have a clear vision of why the members of the group have chosen to associate and create something together, against which all agreements to act (decisions) can be measured. In dynamic governance, “decisions” are made for the present moment. They may deal with predicted future circumstances, they may be about long-term plans, but are subject to change and evolution, whenever new information arises. Instead of making big “decisions”, there is an ongoing process of generally smaller choices about how to proceed in the present moment - how to take the next few steps. These choices become part of a much larger process of evolution and flow. The process of dynamic governance creates a “flow state.” So dynamic steering involves a constant, ongoing process of adjustments and choices – that is happening all the time - not something that just happens occasionally when (in static steering), “decisions” are made. Even long term plans are subject to constant revision, as new reality reveals itself.

In this way, I find it very harmonic with the basic permaculture principle of making changes and then letting nature demonstrate its evolution, observing results ("measuring" in Sociocratic terms), using feedback, and adjusting strategies.

In Dynamic Governance, we expect to make adjustments as new information arrives. Because of this there is much less agony about whether we are making the “right” decision. We understand that we are simply choosing to move in a certain direction, knowing that it will very likely change as we gain experience and new insight. There is a lot of room for change. This encourages us to drop our fears about an uncertain future, while still addressing our present moment concerns for what we do know or can reasonably predict – confident that when new information or circumstances arrive that we will be able to adapt with ease. This encourages us to deal with what we can know in the present moment, rather than getting lost in abstractions, interpretations, theory and opinions. This encourages trust and surrender to life.

In methods of dynamic governance, such as Sociocracy, everyone is assured of having input into the process. Everyone’s concerns are reflected in the collective choices made. When new concerns arise, they too will be incorporated into the choices being made. Any dissension that occurs is a natural part of the process, and is seen for the information it provides about what needs are now being called for fulfillment. In fact, the expectations are completely different: people are called to voice their concerns ongoingly, as these provide new information that inform better choices.

This process encourages a certain sense of self as well, one that is more comfortable with living in the present, emerging moment; feeling what arises; and seeing every new moment as an opportunity to contribute and steer towards fulfillment. It is a self that can align to what is, and is more trusting in processes of feedback, adaptation, change and evolution. What was seen in static governance as disruptive is seen in dynamic governance as an opportunity to integrate new information.

Of course, effective governance requires both powerful community structures and personal development. It’s helpful to develop the ability to govern ourselves, personally, in our own lives: to learn how to be more response-able; to examine how we give our power away, and how we can reclaim it; to learn how to communicate effectively; to engage in personal education and development in becoming more powerful people. IMHO, no form of governance will work with people who are not committed to both reality-testing and personal responsibility.

I've attached a design white paper that I created a while ago for an ecovillage project I was involved with, integrating both Dynamic Governance and Compassionate Communication.


Filename: Ecovillage-Dynamic-Governance.pdf
Description: Ecovillage Dynamic Governance
File size: 152 Kbytes
 
Julia Winter
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Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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My neighbors, the Columbia Ecovillage in Portland, OR, fairly recently changed from a consensus system (which, after about 5 years was leading to gridlock and the loss of good community members) to sociocracy.

I am not a member (they are working on setting up an "associate membership" and although it is taking months, I'm assured that prior to the change it would never happen) but it seems that it is working better.
 
Johnmark Hatfield
Posts: 23
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i only have experience in large group consensus (~50) with 80% vote without consensus. or small group consensus (~.

Reading what has been posted and skimming wikipedia makes me think sociocracy is merely improvised decision making with the implication the decision is up for tweeking, where consensus or voting is when people already have their minds made up and present their view and don't review. am i correct in this?

i believe there is no perfect way of making decisions. I've noticed that within any system, there are similar problems that come out. I believe democracy exists because there are too many people in a decision to relate to each other, or the people in the decision don't approach it from a loving spirit. If you don't relate enough to the others, you don't know each others' perspectives, and if you don't love them it makes for messy community. even if 10 people are chosen at random from the internet that have the exact opinion on how something should be done, i don't think it's a healthy group to do a common activity if all are only acting out of their own personal wants.

i say if you can work on positive practices, sociocracy will work a lot better. you always have to review a decision and be honest about how you feel after a decision has been acted out. positive communication, knowing how to express yourself, develop listening skills, empathy skills...are key. also understanding that a decision's results after the action is tried is not the most valuable part of making a decision. if a group has amazing results because one person's idea was rammed down everyone's throats, it is not healthy in the long term.
 
B. Linger
Posts: 8
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Johnmark Hatfield wrote:i only have experience in large group consensus (~50) with 80% vote without consensus. or small group consensus (~.

I think what Johnmark said is true in my experience which has been in groups between 20 to 70.

We have discussion, then consensus vote (support, neutral, dislike, and BLOCK) and if there are any blocks we go back to discussion, and then put it to an 80% supermajority vote. It has worked for divisive issues and has also been useful for discussing budgets of several hundred dollars. It is imperative to build a culture of honest and caring communication.
 
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