Kategoriarkiv: Sociocracy

Are Holacracy and sociocracy Teal?

First a disclaimer. I don’t really know how a Teal organization1 looks like!

What Frederic Laloux does in his book Reinventing Organizations is to use Holacracy to define aspects of Teal.2, 3, 4

Well, is Holacracy Teal then by definition? No, not necessarily!

In Holacracy, the power is in the process,5 roles and accountabilities are defined explicitly,6 and people have a basic responsibility to act as role fillers.7 This is Amber thinking. Amber organizations have highly formal roles and rigorous processes,8 and seeks to create control through strictly defined roles.9 Authority is linked to a role.10 Holacracy really doesn’t care how people feel as long as the process is honored.11, 12 Not caring about people’s feelings is non-Green.13

What about sociocracy then?

Well, I think Holacracy is a full implementation of sociocracy. Both Holacracy and sociocracy use rules and policies as control mechanisms. This is non-Teal and non-Green. Teal avoids the tendency to create rules and policies,14, 15 and Green relies on shared values rather than rules.16, 17 The way of seeing in sociocracy is the engineers, and the operating idea is cybernetics. This is Orange thinking.18, 19

So, are Holacracy and sociocracy Teal?

I’d say no, but it depends on what you emphasize and the interpretations you do. Both Holacracy and sociocracy have an individual cognitive model of people as autonomous rule-followers. Is that Teal?

It’s so easy to get lost in the verbiage!

Notes:
1 Teal organizations, according to Frederic Laloux, shift from having external to internal yardsticks in the decision making, mostly do without job titles, value intrinsic over extrinsic motivators, emphasize inner rightness, don’t need everything to be quantified to discern a right course of action, decentralize power, do away with job descriptions, start with the premise that people have a sense of pride and want to do a good job, and view profits as a byproduct of a job well done. See Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations, (Nelson Parker, 2014), pp. 46, 94, 135, 172, 174, 175, 185, 186, and 201.
2 Frederic Laloux writes that one of ”the core elements of Holacracy, which can be found in all Teal Organizations in this research, is to separate role from soul”. See Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations, (Nelson Parker, 2014), p. 122.
3 Laloux sees Holacracy’s separation of role from soul as a ”necessary first step” to ”reconnect role and soul, from a different place”. Ibid., pp. 349—350.
4 Laloux writes that Teal replaces ”predict and control” with ”sense and respond” and refers to Brian Robertson’s metaphor of riding a bicycle. Ibid., pp. 214—215. Gerard Endenburg uses the same metaphor to illustrate the circle process in Sociocracy. See Gerard Endenburg, Sociocracy: The organization of decision-making, (Eburon, 1998), pp. 16—18, and G. Endenburg, Sociocracy: As Social Design, (Eburon, 1998), pp. 67—71.
5 Brian Robertson emphasizes that ”rules and processes reign supreme” in Holacracy. See Brian Robertson, Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy, (Penguin, 2015), p. 21.
6 Ibid., pp. 40—42.
7 In addition to people’s ”basic responsibilities as role fillers”, they also have specific duties in ”offering transparency”, ”processing requests”, and ”accepting certain rules of prioritization”. Ibid., pp. 92—94.
8 Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations, (Nelson Parker, 2014), p. 37.
9 Ibid., p. 20.
10 Ibid..
11 As long as the process is followed, people’s feelings doesn’t matter. Brian Robertson, Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy, (Penguin, 2015), p. 110.
12The process is all that matters” and takes care of ”everything else”. Ibid., p. 111.
13 Green is ”is highly sensitive to people’s feelings”. See Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations, (Nelson Parker, 2014), p. 32.
14 Teal organizations are able to avoid the ”tendency in organizations to create rules and policies”.  Ibid., p. 247.
15 Policies are viewed as ”wasteful control mechanisms”. Ibid., p. 299.
16 Ibid., p. 34.
17 Green’s relationship to rules ”is ambiguous and conflicted”. Ibid., p. 32.
18 Orange thinks of organizations ”as machines”. Ibid., p. 29.
19 Orange looks at management through an ”engineering perspective”. Ibid., p. 30.

Related posts:
Sociocracy requires a new mindset
Scrum vs. Sociocracy
Sociocratic principles can be implemented in many ways
Sociocracy is a method, and still it isn’t
Implementing sociocracy without sociocracy
Sociocracy as practiced by the G/wi
Policies vs. agreements
Scaling sociocracy is all about the context
Unspoken sociocratic principles
Cultural dimensions of sociocracy
A prerequisite for sociocracy is a socios
Holacracy vs. sociocracy
The phenomenology of sociocracy
The big misconception in sociocracy
Is Sociocracy an empty method?
Are Holacracy and sociocracy Teal?

Medborgarlön är en sociokratisk tanke


Miljöpartisterna Annika Lillemets, Valter Mutt, Rickard Persson och Carl Schlyter skriver i Svd Debatt 2015-10-01 att Miljöpartiet vill tillsätta en statlig utredning kring medborgarlön, dvs. att alla medborgare har en garanterad basinkomst. Det är en intressant tanke, inte minst utifrån ett sociokratiskt perspektiv. Medborgarlön lyfts fram som ett viktigt sätt att garantera allas likvärdighet i sociokrati.1

Fotnot:
1 Gerard Endenburg, Sociocracy: The organization of decision-making, (Eburon, 1998), ss. 42–49.

Relaterade inlägg:
Några tankar om sociokrati

The phenomenology of sociocracy

Phenomenology is a philosophy, an academic discipline, and a practiced research methodology. It arose from a group of continental philosophers in the early 1900s with Edmund Husserl and has developed into a qualitative research methodology. Unlike other research methodologies, our sense experience, intuition, and feelings do not need to be disregarded. The key is to notice without attachment, and discern the difference between thoughts, feelings, and direct experience.

Sociocracy is a governance method based on consent decision-making and cybernetic principles. Sociocracy was developed during the 1970s by Gerard Endenburg. Endenburg is a Dutch entrepreneur and electrical engineer. His first book on sociocracy was published in Dutch in 1981 and in English in 1988. The book contains two examples to illustrate the feedback control loop, or circle process, in cybernetics. The first example is riding a bicycle,1 and the second is a central heating system.2

The basic rules, or principles, in sociocracy are discussed in detail in relation to these two examples. The major conclusion drawn is that there is one operating limit which can never come under discussion, and that is the equivalence in the decision-making.3 An important distinction is that this equivalence in the decision-making only applies to deciding the operating limits, or thresholds, of the system components. This is why the first principle in sociocracy only governs policy decision-making.

Gerard Endenburg acknowledges that the operating limits in riding a bicycle are not the same kind of limits as those within which a thermostat in a heating system is allowed to function, but he still thinks that they indicate constraints within which control may be exercised.4 He is aware that riding a bicycle is far more complex in reality than his simple example might suggest.5 Endenburg also acknowledges that people are not system components,6 but he doesn’t distinguish between machines and organisms in his reasoning.7 The way of seeing in sociocracy is the engineer’s. The operating idea is cybernetics.

With a phenomenological approach, Gerard Endenburg would have set aside his engineering preconceptions and assumptions, and explored the phenomenon of riding a bicycle in terms of itself. He would have reflected on his experiences to search for intrinsic patterns and qualities, and, with them, gained a deeper understanding. For example, he might have noticed that some operating limits are authentic, while others are counterfeit.8,9,10,11

Authentic operating limits are, in this case, determined by the bicyclist’s need to keep the balance while riding the bicycle.12 An example of a counterfeit operating limit could be to be forbidden to cross a white line on the road. It would be counterfeit because the bicyclist would still cross the line, if needed, to keep the balance.13 However, sometimes not crossing the line could be authentic, for example, if it would be better to fall than to be killed by a car.14 The point is that people decide themselves what is authentic, or not, depending on the situation.15 And people don’t obey counterfeit operating limits, or rules, unless they are forced to do so.16 This means that equivalence is applicable to all decision-making. The operating limit on sociocracy itself is that people are autonomic.17,18

Notes:
1 Gerard Endenburg, Sociocracy: The organization of decision-making, (Eburon, 1998), pp. 16—19, 23, 33—37, 223—224.
2 Ibid., pp. 19—23, 30, 36, 40.
3 Ibid., p. 23.
4 Ibid. pp. 23, 30.
5 Ibid., p. 16.
6 Ibid., p. 39.
7 Ibid.
8 The idea behind authentic versus counterfeit operating limits is inspired by Henri Bortoft who distinguished between authentic versus counterfeit wholes. See for example Emma Kidd, First Steps to Seeing: A Path Towards Living Attentively, (Floris Books, 2015), pp. 90—95.
9 See also Simon Robinson & Maria Moraes Robinson, Holonomics: Business Where People and Planet Matter, (Floris Books, 2014), pp. 51f & 150.
10 The notion of authentic and counterfeit is also connected to the phenomenological idea of belonging together. Note especially that there is a feedback loop in that the way in which the belonging together is developed helps to inform the system, and when the system is created it can also help to better see the belonging together. Ibid., pp. 150—153.
11 The belonging together emerges from the phenomenon itself. See Emma Kidd, First Steps to Seeing: A Path Towards Living Attentively, (Floris Books, 2015), pp. 70, 132.
12 Authentic operating limits naturally belong together with the situation, in this case with the bicyclist’s balancing act.
13 Counterfeit operating limits are artificially forced to belong together with the situation.
14 Note that there is a feedback loop between the operating limit(s) and the situation.
15 It’s important to understand the situation and let it control the actions. See Frederick S. Perls, Gestalt Therapy Verbatim, (Bantam Books, 1969), p. 20.
16 External control, even internalized, interferes with the healthy working of the organism. Ibid.
17 Organisms are autonomic, while machines are allonomic. Organisms come into being as a whole entity and grow into maturity as a whole entity unlike machines that are assembled piece by piece by some other. See Norm Hirst, Towards a science of life as creative organisms, Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 4, No 1-2 (2008).
18 According to Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, we can never direct a living system; we can only disturb it. Furthermore, a living system has the autonomy to decide what to notice and what will disturb it. See Fritjof Capra & Pier Luigi Luisi, The Systems View of Life: A Unified Vision, 4th printing, (Cambridge University Press, 2015), p. 256.

Related book reviews:
Book Review: Sociocracy by Gerard Endenburg
Book Review: First Steps to Seeing by Emma Kidd
Book Review: Holonomics by Simon Robinson & Maria Moraes Robinson

Related posts:
The big misconception in sociocracy
Fritz Perls on control
What if control is inappropriate?
Machines are allonomic, living organisms are autonomic
Autognomics: Radical Self-Knowing
Self-organization is the real operating system
Emergence is simply what life does
Empowerment is a red herring
Pre-conditions for self-organization
What if the organization is a living system?

What if control is inappropriate?

My conclusion after having read Brian Robertson’s new book on Holacracy and Gerard Endenburg’s first book on Sociocracy is that neither Holacracy nor Sociocracy replace Command & Control (C&C). Both use C&C within limits.

This triggered feedback from Holacracy people that the Lead Link Role doesn’t manage day-to-day work and doesn’t manage others, but that there is definitely control in Holacracy. All Roles ”have the authority to control and regulate” their own Domains (Holacracy Constitution v4.1, 1.4 Authority Over Domains). There is definitely control in Sociocracy too.

My follow-up question is: What if control in itself is inappropriate?

Here is an interesting article on The ”Command and Control” Military Gets Agile by Daniel Mezick, which contains references to writers within the military who challenge control themselves. Key points are that complex situations cannot be controlled, and control is in fact an emergent property, not an option to be selected. Here are a few quotes:

The word “control” is inappropriate … because it sends the wrong message. It implies that complex situations can be controlled, with the implication that there is the possibility of an engineering type solution. … But this is a dangerous oversimplification. The best that one can do is to create a set of conditions that improves the probability that a desirable (rather than an undesirable) outcome will occur and to change the conditions when what is expected is not occurring. Control is in fact an emergent property, not an option to be selected. … The argument that … commanders in the military or… management in industry do not have control creates cognitive dissonance. Nevertheless, this is undoubtedly the case. The widespread belief that we have control is merely an illusion, and a dangerous one at that. The literature on complex adaptive systems explains why the notion of control as a verb is misguided.1

…any Complex Adaptive System…cannot be controlled or ruled: a CAS will simply find ways of working around the rules if the context in which it formed remains viable. … The basis of these … systems of working … are based upon very simple trusts — not rules …
Essentially, the tension is … between trusts and rules.
2

Attempts to control complex systems … tend to be pointless at best or destructive at worst.3

And here are quotes from some non-military references:

For life, where freedom of choice in acting exists, control and prediction is impossible, attempts to control are destructive to life and lead to chaos. If we examine the causes of our failing institutions, it is easy to show that attempts to control them, violating normal processes of life, makes them fail.4

We talk and write about leaders and managers being in control of organizations. In the reality of our experience, however, no one can control the interplay of intentions, because they cannot control what everyone else in every other organization is choosing and doing. Consequently, no one can choose or be in control of what happens.5

For nearly three centuries we have worked diligently to structure society in accordance with that concept, believing that with ever more reductionist scientific knowledge, ever more specialization, ever more technology, ever more efficiency, ever more linear education, ever more rules and regulations, ever more hierarchal command and control, we could learn to engineer organizations in which we could pull a lever at one place, get a precise result at another, and know with certainty which lever to pull or for which result. Never mind that human beings must be made to behave as cogs and wheels in the process.6

Notes:
1 David S. Alberts, The International C2 Journal | Vol 1, No 1, 2007, pp. 15—16.
2 Simon Reay Atkinson & James Moffat, The Agile Organization: From Informal Networks to Complex Effects and Agility, pp. 5—6, 7.
3 Stanley McChrystal, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, (Penguin, 2015), p. 68.
4 Norm Hirst, Towards a Science of Life as Creative Organisms, (Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, vol. 4, nos. 1-2, 2008), p. 93.
5 Ralph Stacey, Dialogic Organization Development: The Theory and Practice of Transformational Change / Gervase R. Bushe & Robert J. Marshak, editors, (Berett-Koehler, 2015), p. 153.
6 Dee Hock, One From Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization, (Berrett-Koehler, 2005), p. 37

Related posts:
The big misconception in sociocracy
Dee Hock on control
Harrison Owen on control
Fritz Perls on control
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Traditional vs. Sociocratic vs. Holacratic Command & Control
Holacracy vs. Sociocracy
Book Review: Holacracy by Brian Robertson
Book Review: Sociocracy by Gerard Endenburg
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Machines are allonomic, living organisms are autonomic
Autognomics: Radical Self-Knowing
Self-organization is the real operating system
Emergence is simply what life does
Empowerment is a red herring
Pre-conditions for self-organization
What if the organization is a living system?
Carl Rogers on person-centered leadership

Traditional vs. Sociocratic vs. Holacratic Command & Control

Adam Pisoni writes in Here’s Why You Should Care About Holacracy: The ”leaderless” workplace structure is sweeping companies like Zappos and Medium that ”Holacracy is simply the first fully formed alternative to C&C that real companies are using successfully.” I think this is misleading. Sociocracy predates Holacracy® with 30 years. And neither Holacracy nor Sociocracy replace Command & Control (C&C). Both use C&C within limits. Furthermore, neither Holacracy nor Sociocracy are ”leaderless”. This is how it looks like:

  • Traditional C&C: The Manager manages day-to-day work autocratically.
  • Sociocratic C&C: The Operations Leader manages day-to-day operations (most often) autocratically within policies established by consent. The Operations Leader is elected by consent. The circle decides and measures results.
  • Holacratic C&C: Similar to Sociocratic C&C, with the addition that the Lead Link assigns Roles. Roles have exclusive day-to-day control of Domains. The Lead Link is not an elected role.

C&C is the exercise of authority, and control is a managerial function (Wikipedia). With the latter definition, all Roles in Holacracy are managerial roles.

Related posts:
The big misconception in sociocracy
What if control is inappropriate?
Holacracy vs. Sociocracy
Book Review: Holacracy by Brian Robertson
Book Review: Sociocracy by Gerard Endenburg

Holacracy vs. Sociocracy

I have written book reviews of Brian Robertson’s new book on Holacracy and Gerard Endenburg’s first book on Sociocracy. Robertson’s book was published in 2015. Endenburg’s book was originally published in Dutch in 1981. The first English translation was published in 1988, and the Eburon edition, which I have reviewed, in 1998. Here’s my comparison between Holacracy® and sociocracy together with my conclusions:

Aims
Endenburg and Robertson have very different aims with their respective methods. Endenburg wants to ”enable everyone … to develop as far and in as diversified a manner as possible” (Endenburg, Sociocracy, p. 5), while Robertson wants to ”harness the tremendous sensing power of the human consciousness available to our organizations” (Robertson, Holacracy, p. 7).

Organizations
Robertson and Endenburg also have very different views on organizations and their purpose. Robertson views the organization as ”an entity that exists beyond the people, with its own purpose to enact and with work to do beyond just serving the people doing that work” (Holacracy, p. 148), while Endenburg thinks that an organization ”exist for us and it is in our interest that the actual problem-solving capability of our organizations is as great as possible” (Sociocracy, p. 142). Organizations provide goods and services “on behalf of the community” (Sociocracy, p. 89), and they serve the community and “the participants in the company” (Sociocracy, p. 89).

People
Endenburg recognizes the worth of the whole person, while Robertson primarily views people as “role fillers” (Holacracy, p. 92). For Robertson it’s ”about processing tensions for the sake of our roles, which ultimately serve the organization’s purpose” (Holacracy, p. 113). This ”keeps the organization from being overly influenced by individual feelings and opinions that are not relevant to the work …” (Holacracy, p. 116). He differentiates between ”role and soul” (Holacracy, pp. 42—46). Endenburg, on the other hand, thinks that ”it is fundamentally important … to involve the complete individual in the decision-making process” (Sociocracy, p. 5). He wants to give both the individual and the group space ”to arrange their lives in accordance with their own wishes and needs” (Sociocracy, p. 10), and emphasizes the importance of each person’s ”equivalence in the decision-making” and ”equivalence in the potential for existence and development” (Sociocracy, p. 167).

Basic Rules
What’s interesting is that Holacracy and sociocracy use the same basic rules, or principles. One of Robertson’s “favorite metaphors” used to illustrate “dynamic steering” and “constant weaving” is riding a bicycle (Holacracy, p. 129). This is the same example which Endenburg uses to illustrate “weaving” and the “circle process” (Sociocracy, pp. 16—19). Both use nested circles which are “linked via two special roles” (Holacracy, pp. 46—56; Sociocracy, pp. 10—11, 26—27), decision-making with objections, and role elections. A difference is that all roles are elected in sociocracy, while only the ”Rep Link”, ”Facilitator”, and ”Secretary” are elected roles in Holacracy (Holacracy, p. 57).

Conclusions
I’d say that Holacracy is a full implementation of sociocracy. What Robertson does is to use his own words, and give them his own slant. The fundamental difference between Holacracy and sociocracy lies in Endenburg’s and Robertson’s different aims. Their different intentions influence their interpretations. The weak spot in sociocracy, as I see it, enabling Holacracy’s interpretation, is that the “principle of consent” or “principle of no objection” (Sociocracy, p.  10) is limited to deciding “operating limits” or rules (Sociocracy, p. 23). The vehicle for implementing this in Holacracy are the roles. If I’d give sociocracy my own slant, then I’d give all people in the organization the possibility to object to any decision which affects them. I think we need to create workplaces where people can thrive and show up fully as human beings, and not just act as ”role fillers” (Holacracy, p. 92). What I’d add to my own implementation of sociocracy would be conflict resolution. Otherwise, I’d keep the method to an absolute minimum, and follow Endenburg’s advice to let the the organization search for its own solutions in a ”sociocratic way” (Sociocracy, p. 12), i.e., by respecting people’s equivalence.

Related book reviews:
Book Review: Sociocracy by Gerard Endenburg
Book Review: Holacracy by Brian Robertson

Related posts:
Sociocracy requires a new mindset
Scrum vs. Sociocracy
Sociocratic principles can be implemented in many ways
Sociocracy is a method, and still it isn’t
Implementing sociocracy without sociocracy
Sociocracy as practiced by the G/wi
Policies vs. agreements
Scaling sociocracy is all about the context
Unspoken sociocratic principles
Cultural dimensions of sociocracy
A prerequisite for sociocracy is a socios
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Are Holacracy and sociocracy Teal?
The big misconception in sociocracy
Is Sociocracy an empty method?
All roles in Holacracy are managerial roles
Holacratic tyranny
Sociocracy is both right and wrong
Is sociocracy agile?

Book Review: Sociocracy

Gerard Endenburg has written two major books on sociocracy, Sociocracy: The organization of decision-making and Sociocracy: As social design. There is a considerable overlap between these two books. This is a review of the first book, which is of particular interest since it includes Gerard Endenburg’s own story of sociocracy. The original edition was published in Dutch in 1981.

Gerard Endenburg wrote the book ”in the certainty that a society’s organization must enable everyone … to develop as far and in as diversified a manner as possible” (p. 5). He thinks that ”behaviour is determined by the prevailing kind of decision-making” (p. 3), and that ”it is fundamentally important … to involve the complete individual in the decision-making process” (p. 5). He clarifies that ”any form of decision-making” is possible as long as the individual ”has no objection” (p. 6). He also emphasizes that sociocracy ”has consequences on all levels and in each area of our existence, both as individual and as society” (p. 6), and that sociocracy enables us ”to seek a more ‘human’ solution to literally all problems and conflicts” (p. 6). There is no reason, in his opinion, to ”accept our present political, economic and social systems” (p. 6). Endenburg’s aspirations with sociocracy are ambitious indeed.

The book is very informative, but difficult to read. Gerard Endenburg is an engineer and admits that his ”terminology … may sound rather cold and formal”, but thinks ”this is in fact how things must be done” (p. 54). Well, if you are an engineer maybe? Endenburg recognizes human dignity and worth, but he is not good at writing. Or, maybe it’s a poor English translation, or both?

The ”basic rule” of sociocracy is that the decision-making ”is governed by the principle of consent” (p. 9), which is also called the ”principle of no objection” (p. 10). This gives both the individual and the group space ”to arrange their lives in accordance with their own wishes and needs” (p. 10). Sociocracy guarantees ”the equality of each individual in the decision-making” (p. 10). The organization is ”broken down into smaller units”, which are called ”circles”, to ensure that the principle of consent can be applied consistently (p. 10). The circles, in turn, are interlinked to ensure feedback. This double-linking is ”one of the essential elements” of sociocracy, and is not only an interlinking between ”circles within an organization”, but also between ”organizations with common interests” (p. 11).

The ”four basic rules” of sociocracy are: 1) the ”principle of consent”, which governs the decision-making; 2) the ”sociocratic circle”, which has its own ”objective”, and does its own ”directing, operating, and measuring”; 3) the ”double-link” between circles consisting of ”at least two people”; and 4) the ”election” of people ”exclusively by consent after open discussion” (p. 11). The fourth rule follows ”logically from the first three”, but has been added since people are so strongly conditioned ”to elect people by counting votes” (p. 12). ”Sociocracy is the power of argument” (p. 12), not of votes.

Gerard Endenburg emphasizes that ”it must be noted that it is not simply a matter of introducing the four rules” in an organization. Each organization is unique and must search for solutions to its own problems in a sociocratic way. His experience is that solutions frequently come from people whom ”no-one would have thought of” (p. 12). He warns that the four rules ”sounds so simple, but that very simplicity can be deceptive” (p. 13). This simplicity can ”deceive us into ignoring, or only partially recognizing, the possibilities which” sociocracy has to offer (p. 13). Endenburg uses the rest of the book to explain these possibilities. Almost half of the book is used to explain in detail how sociocracy ”is being or may be applied in practice” (p. 51) as an ”individual” (pp. 51—52), in ”the family” (pp. 53—55), in ”the educational system” (pp. 56—87), in ”work” (pp. 88—126), and in ”government” (pp. 127—143). The common theme among all examples discussed is ”to make possible our individual life and the life we live with others” (p. 142). All organizations ”exist for us and it is in our interest that the actual problem-solving capability of our organizations is as great as possible” (p. 142). Companies provide goods and services ”on behalf of the community” (p. 89). They exist to serve the community and ”the participants in the company” (p. 89).

Life is ”an interplay of dynamic balances” (p. 15). The process which is capable of maintaining the ”dynamic equilibrium is … the feedback control loop or circle process” (p. 15). Endenburg is, as already mentioned, an engineer and the ”circle process” is a concept which comes from cybernetics. He uses two examples to describe the ”operation of the circle process” in ”maintaining a dynamic equilibrium”. The first is riding a bicycle (pp. 16—19), and the second is a central heating system (pp. 19—23). I agree with Endenburg that his example of riding a bicycle ”in reality … is far more complex than this simple example might suggest” (p. 16). The activities involving the brain, muscles, and nerves in riding a bicycle are extremely complex. I think it’s impossible to describe what’s really happening in any explicit way. Any attempt to follow Endenburg’s description of riding the bicycle would actually get in the way of riding it.

A major conclusion drawn from these two examples is that there is ”one limit which can never come under discussion”, and that is ”the limit which guarantees the equal say of each participant in the decision-making” (p. 23). It took me a long time to realize that this guarantee of ”equal say” only applies to deciding the operating limits, or ”thresholds”, of the system components. Endenburg acknowledges that the limits in riding a bicycle ”are not the same kind of limits as those within which the thermostat is allowed to perform its function”, but he still thinks that they ”indicate constraints within which control may be exercised” (p. 23). I’d challenge this. Why would I need to ”be empowered to issue” my ”own instructions … within certain limits” (p. 22)? I think this works fine for a thermostat, boiler, or sensor, but not for for a human being. People are autonomic regardless of any ”thresholds”. I think that the ”principle of consent” is generally applicable, and not only specifically in deciding operating limits or rules. Sociocracy ”does not ask for a ‘yes’ but does provide an opportunity to give a reasoned ‘no'” (p. 10). I need the opportunity to say ‘no’ to all decisions affecting me, not just rules. There’s also a nuanced difference between following rules and honoring agreements which sets them worlds apart for me. Just as we are strongly conditioned to use voting, we are also strongly conditioned on formalizing rules and roles. Rules become important when the focus is on not doing the ‘wrong’ thing, rather than doing the ‘right’ thing.

Gerard Endenburg acknowledges that ”we still know very little about regulation and control in our individual life and the life we live with others” (p. 31). He also acknowledges that ”people are not mechanical components, and people cannot be designed to to a job” (p. 30), and that ”man is not a machine or a machine component” (p. 39), but he doesn’t distinguish between ”machines” and ”organisms” (p. 39). I don’t think Gerard Endenburg has fully taken into account that machines are allonomic, while living organisms are autonomic. Life creates and recreates itself afresh with each passing moment through an incredible amount of activities which are perfectly, freely, and spontaneously coupled together. Life has a way of maintaining the ”dynamic equilibrium” which goes far beyond Endenburg’s examples. What if how we ”arrange” our lives ”in accordance with” our ”own wishes and needs” (p. 10) is not a cybernetic problem? If so, Endenburg’s logic is correct, but the wrong logic. It’s as if he gives with one hand (equivalence), but takes back with the other (equivalence only in deciding operating limits). Limits are very important for Endenburg since they ”are something we are constantly involved with throughout our individual life and the life we live with others” (p. 126). ”The rules exist for our benefit” and can be adapted according to ”our own needs and insights” (p. 73). They are needed ”in order to enable interplay within the organization” (p. 73). I think skillful conflict resolution is as important for the interplay.

The ”equivalence of each individual” is very important for Gerard Endenburg (p. 44). ”Just as … the principle of consent guarantees the equal say of each individual in the decision-making” (p. 42), Endenburg also proposes the introduction of a ”Subsistence Guarantee” for each individual (pp. 42—49). This guarantee ”would be an optimum way of guaranteeing the equivalence of every individual and would enable the individual to decide what to do with that equivalent status” (p. 49). People would be free to decide how to spend their time if ”their subsistence is not at stake” (p. 125). Endenburg realizes that the ”Subsistence Guarantee” would have ”far-reaching significance”, and suggests that the introduction of it would ”have to be very gradual” (p. 45). He still thinks ”what is important is that we do it” (p. 45).

It is Gerard Endenburg’s deep conviction that a sociocratically structured society ”will guarantee the equivalence of each individual in decision-making”, both ”in subsistence and in self-development” (p. 143). He comes back to this in his concluding remarks and emphasizes again the importance of each person’s ”equivalence in the decision-making” and ”equivalence in the potential for existence and development” (p. 167). The ”emancipation of the individual” is very important for him (p. 168). ”If one is to strive for self-realization, one must be given freedom to develop” (p. 57). Endenburg ends his book by saying that ”happiness is like a flower”, and that he hopes that his book, in that sense, ”may be a flower” (p. 168). May sociocracy itself be a flower.

Related book reviews:
We the People by John Buck and Sharon Villines
Holacracy by Brian Robertson

Related posts:
Holacracy vs. Sociocracy
The phenomenology of sociocracy

Book Review: Holacracy

Brian J. Robertson has written a book about Holacracy: The Revolutionary Management System that Abolishes Hierarchy. Holacracy® is a governance system and a registered trademark owned by HolacracyOne. The word Holacracy is very easy to confuse with holocracy (with an o), which means universal democracy. Robertson’s aim with the system is to ”harness the tremendous sensing power of the human consciousness available to our organizations” (p. 7). This harnessing is done by ”a set of core rules” (p. 12). The Holacracy constitution acts as ”the core rule book for the organization” (p. 21). Robertson hopes that his readers will approach the book ”not as a set of ideas, principles, or philosophies, but as a guide to a new practice” (pp. 13—14).

Brian Robertson’s book is very readable and informative. I share Robertson’s view on the problems associated with ”predict and control” (p. 7) and his interest in finding ”better ways to work together” (p. 12), but I can also see problems with heavily rule based approaches. I think there’s a fundamental difference between following rules and honoring agreements. Rules are externally-focused, while agreements are internal because they are directly linked to will. Agreements, not rules, are the glue that ties commitment to results.

Brian Robertson focuses on practices in his book, while my interest primarily is on principles. This doesn’t mean that I think practices are unimportant. I share, however, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s view that ”The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” To paraphrase Emerson, the man who focus on rules and processes, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble. I also think that processes need to grow, or evolve, from their specific context. Each situation is unique in some way, small or large.

For Brian Robertson, it’s very important to ”prevent others from claiming power over you” (p. 21). This is done by establishing a ”core authority structure” and ”a system that empowers everyone” (p. 21). The power is in the ”process, which is defined in detail” (p. 21). For me, ”harnessing true self-organization and agility throughout an enterprise” (p. 20) is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. Harnessing self-organization might actually kill it. I suspect people might decide to withdraw their engagement if they realize that they are harnessed for the benefit of the organization only.

Brian Robertson defines a ”circle”, not as a group of people, but as a ”group of roles” (p. 48). The ”basic circle structure” consists of nested circles (p. 47). Robertson calls the hierarchy of ”nested circles” a ”holarchy” (p. 46). Arthur Koestler defines a ”holon” as ”a whole that is a part of a larger whole” and a ”holarchy” as ”the connection between holons” (p. 38). I’d challenge that a hierarchy of nested circles really is a holarchy. A person certainly is a holon, but I doubt that a role, in itself, is a holon. What inherent ”wholeness” does a role have if people are needed to ”energize” the role and ”enact” its accountabilities (p. 43)? Having said that, I do think that a group of people can become and act as a holon under certain circumstances. Maybe Bohmian Dialogue, the U-process, and Open Space Technology are examples when such circumstances can occur?

The nested circles in the basic circle structure are ”linked via two special roles”, the Lead and Rep Links (p. 49). The idea behind this interlinking of circles comes from the Sociocratic Circle Organization Method (Sociocracy), which was invented by Gerard Endenburg in the 1970s. Brian Robertson tried to patent the idea (Pub. No. US2009/006113 A1, Fig. 4), but subsequently abandoned the patent application. Other ideas in the patent application similar to Sociocracy are the decision-making (Fig. 6), governance meeting (Fig. 8), and role election (Fig. 9) processes. A significant difference between Sociocracy and Holacracy is that all roles are elected in Sociocracy, while only the Rep Link, Facilitator, and Secretary are elected roles in Holacracy (p. 57). Holacracy is also more prescriptive. The responsibility of people in a Holacracy is to act as role fillers. This is a ”sacred duty” and ”an act of love and service, not for your own sake, but nonetheless of your own free will” (p. 85). Holacracy ”empowers you to use your own best judgment to energize your role and do your work” (p. 97). I cannot help but wonder why people can’t empower themselves? Why do you need the permission of a system to use your own best judgment in your work?

In addition to the ”basic responsibility as role fillers”, people also have specific duties in ”offering transparency”, ”processing requests”, and ”accepting certain rules of prioritization” (p. 92). Transparency and effectiveness are important in Sociocracy too. However, equivalence doesn’t seem to be as important in Holacracy as in Sociocracy. In Holacracy, ”the process is all that matters, and the process will take care of everything else” (p. 111). The rules in Holacracy ”create a sacred space that frees each of us to act as sensors for the organization, without drama getting in the way” (p. 110). ”As long as the process is honored, you really don’t care how anyone feels — at least not in your role as facilitator.” (p. 110) I ask myself, aren’t feelings important if people are going to be able to act as sensors? The answer Brian Robertson gives is that ”it’s about processing tensions for the sake of our roles, which ultimately serve the organization’s purpose” (p. 113). ”This keeps the organization from being overly influenced by individual feelings and opinions that are not relevant to the work …” (p. 116). He assures that ”No one’s voice is silenced, yet egos aren’t allowed to dominate.” (p. 117) Well, really? Yes, says Robertson. Holacracy seeks to ”process every tension and be truly integrative; it’s also a recipe for [not] letting ego, fear, or groupthink hinder the organization’s purpose” (p. 125). ”Playing politics loses its utility …” (p. 126). I think that the politics of identifying issues and building support that is strong enough to result in action will always be there. It’s great if the politics can be channeled through Holacracy. If not, it will go underground.

One of Brian Robertson’s ”favorite metaphors” used to illustrate the ”dynamic steering” and ”constant weaving” is riding a bicycle (p. 129). Interestingly, this is the same metaphor which Gerard Endenburg uses to illustrate the circle process in Sociocracy. (References: G. Endenburg, Sociocracy: The organization of decision-making, pp. 16—18; and G. Endenburg, Sociocracy: As Social Design, pp. 67—71). Robertson explains that ”Dynamic steering means constant adjustment in light of real feedback, which makes for a more organic and emergent path.” (p. 129) Dynamic steering done well ”enables the organization and those within it to stay present and act decisively on whatever arises day to day …” (p. 130). The focus is on ”quickly reaching a workable decision and then let reality inform the next step” (p. 131). As in Sociocracy, ”any decision can be revisited at any time” (p. 131). I think the dynamic steering is a major strength of both Holacracy and Sociocracy.

Holacracy defines the organization as ”an entity that exists beyond the people, with its own purpose to enact and with work to do beyond just serving the people doing that work” (p. 148). This is also why Holacracy isn’t a governance process ”of the people, by the people, for the people”, but ”of the organization, through the people, for the purpose” (p. 34). Holacracy differentiates ”between the human community and the organizational entity” (p. 149) and between the ”role and soul” (pp. 42—46). To summarize, ”Holacracy’s systems and processes are about continually helping the organization find its own unique identity and structure to do its work in the world, while protecting it from human agendas, egos, and politics.” (p. 199). Still, the organization needs human beings to energize and enact all its roles.

Holacracy is ”a big shift” (p. 145). Brian Robertson emphasizes that ”you can’t really practice Holacracy by adopting only part of the rules”, but ”you can take on all of the rules in only part of the company” (p. 147). Holacracy isn’t for everyone. Robertson has ”seen organizations where it just didn’t stick” (p. 167). The three most common scenarios he has identified are ”The Reluctant-to-Let-Go Leader”, ”The Uncooperative Middle”, and ”The Stopping-Short Syndrome” (p. 167). The last scenario is ”perhaps the most insidious” (p. 170) because ”slowly and almost imperceptibly, the change starts to fade” (p. 170). At best the organization ends up with ”a surface level improvement” only (p. 171). I don’t think this is a scenario unique to Holacracy. Regardless, Robertson claims that ”a majority” of the Holacracy implementations he has witnessed seems to result in ”lasting transformation” (p. 173).

Brian Robertson acknowledges at the end of the book that he is grateful to his mother for her great job in catalyzing the development of his ”strong and healthy ego” (p. 211). Robertson writes that he has a ”solid sense of self throughout” (p. 211). Unless he hadn’t had such a strong and healthy ego, he ”wouldn’t have needed a system capable of protecting others from it” (p. 212). To me, this sounds contradictory. I can understand if a person with a weak ego seeks protection in rules, but not why others would need protection from a person with a solid self and healthy ego. Maybe there are some deeply human needs behind Brian Robertson’s birthing of Holacracy? For one reason or another, Robertson perceives a need for a strong rule based system. It’s up to you to decide if you need such a system too! If so, it’s called Holacracy®.

Related book review:
Sociocracy by Gerard Endenburg

Related post:
Holacracy vs. Sociocracy

Zappos and Holacracy

”It’s kind of deliciously ironic that self-management is being decreed from above.”
— Jeffrey Pfeffer1

”Holacracy, itself, is too complex, dogmatic, and rigid.”
— Bud Caddell2

I’ve previously written about it here. There is always a cost in trying to script people’s behavior. They might decide to withdraw their engagement. I think this is what’s happening at Zappos right now. And I’d suspect there’re people staying at Zappos who’ll just play the game, but withdraw their hearts. Time will tell.

Notes
1 Richard Feloni, Inside Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s radical management experiment that prompted 14% of employees to quit, Business Insider UK, 2015-05-16.
2 Bud Caddell, Why Self-Organizing is So Hard, 2015-03-27.

Related posts:
The big misconception in sociocracy
Holacracy vs. Sociocracy
Book Review: Sociocracy
Book Review: Holacracy
Language of rules & policies vs. agreements
Self-organization is the real operating system
Emergence is simply what life does
Empowerment is a red herring
Pre-conditions for self-organization
What if the organization is a living system?
Facilitating an Open Space
How to enable and sustain self-organization
TEDxTalk on Open Space Technology

A prerequisite for sociocracy is a socios

A prerequisite for sociocracy is that there is a socios, a group of people who share a common purpose and have a social relationship with each other. No socios! No sociocracy! A key question then is how to turn a demos, a general group of people, into a socios? Throughout history, our ancestors have established social communities, embedded their members in complex reciprocal relationships, and built social trust.

Below is an example of the G/wi people’s socios in Botswana. The socios consists of the band and sub-groups called cliques. The example shows how deeply the decision-making is embedded in the social context of the G/wi. The decision-making is done in many ways depending on the kind of decision, while the equivalence of each band member is maintained. It is also interesting to notice how the G/wi balances between avoiding a too weak or a too strong socios. A too weak socios would put the aim (survival) at risk. A too strong socios would make it difficult to leave the band if necessary. The example is from  Politics and history in band societies, edited by Eleanor Leacock and Richard Lee, pp. 23—34:

The band

The social … community is the band.

There is marked stability of the band in its conceptualized identity as a group of people living in a geographically specific territory and controlling the use of the resources of that territory. Membership of the band is somewhat less stable than is its identity. In the absence of structural restrictions – the lack of exclusive qualifications for membership – members are free to join other bands and are, therefore, free to leave the current band.

G/wi bands may, therefore, be seen as stable, but open, communities whose personnel may leave if they wish and which recruits may join if they are accepted. The size of the community is obviously limited by … the state of its resources of food etc.; so, while it is an open community, it is nevertheless a finite one.

Cliques (sub-groups)

Cliques are nearly always unstable groups which are partially or wholly reconstituted whenever the band shifts to a new campsite, i.e. after three to six weeks. The only factor determining their composition appears to be a temporary preference among the constituent households for one another’s close company. Interaction within a clique is significantly more intense than between cliques: most conversation is within, or between, clustered households; the women of a clique usually form a food-gathering gang: the men assist one another with tasks more often than they help men from other cliques, and the rate of exchange of goods and services is generally higher within me group.

Cliques also function as a form of ephemeral segmentation of the band by becoming focuses of opinion and the level at which factionalization initially occurs. Progress towards decision is not, therefore, an even permeation of persuasion through the band. As the diverse strands of argument are ordered and simplified the cliques further function as sub-units of agreement and the balance of opinion shifts in larger-than-individual increments towards one or other of the poles of proposal.

Leadership

Leadership in the band is apparent at all phases of decision-making. The process of reaching a decision is initiated by somebody identifying and communicating a problem which calls for decision. Leadership may be measured as the extent to which an individual’s suggestion or opinion attracts public support and is thus exercised at the initial stage as well as during the subsequent steps toward final decision. In the main, leadership is authoritative, rather than authoritarian; knowledge, experience of the matter under discussion and firmness of personality are characteristics which win most support. 

Expertise in one field of activity may be seen as not at all relevant to another field and, even in matters which are quite closely related, leadership shifts unpredictably among acknowledged experts with the occasional inclusion of a ‘dark horse’. The emotionally calm atmosphere of many discussions and the general lack of competitiveness partly explain the readiness to separate idea from identity. It often happens that the suggestion finally adopted is one which was initially voiced by somebody who has taken no further part in the proceedings, leaving it to others to take up, and ‘push’ his or her proposal.

Decision-making

Decisions affecting the band as a whole are arrived at through discussion in which all adult, and near-adult, members may participate.

There are many ways of doing it: a quiet, serious discussion with one or two key individuals in the hearing of a few band fellows, or a long campaign of persuasion in which the case is put together piece by piece, allowing time for each to settle before placing the next. Or else a public, but ostensibly private, harangue is contrived by loudly addressing a friend, making sure that the whole camp can hear, i.e. talking-at, rather than talking-to. This ploy of the ‘forced eavesdrop’ avoids direct confrontation with the opposition who would be guilty of bad manners if they were to join in the conversation. However, opponents are free to resort to the same device.

The time taken for discussion is naturally limited by the urgency of the matter under consideration; the need to arrive at conclusive agreement before the passage of time and events closes off an option is clearly recognized by the band. Less urgent matters can be debated for longer. Discussion is then intermittent with the subject cropping up from time to time until a satisfying solution to the problem is reached.

”… the band is reluctant to come to decision under the sway of strong feelings: if discussion becomes too angry or excited, debate is temporarily adjourned by the withdrawal of the attention of the calmer participants until things cool down. Withdrawal is not usually physical – to get up and move away is too explicit a gesture of rejection. It is, rather, an auditory withdrawal. Members signal their lack of sympathy with the heated mood by affecting preoccupation with other matters.”

Public decisions cover a wide field.”

In a community as small and as intimate as the band, the parameter of affairs of public policy intrudes far into what a larger-scale society would regard as the domain of private, or personal decision.

Consensus & ‘significant opposition’ (consent)

Band decisions are arrived at by consensus – a term in common use but without much common meaning. Consensus is not unanimity of opinion or decision.

Consensus is arrived at after a series of judgements made by people who all have access to a common pool of information. As the etymology of the word suggests, it is arrived at when people consent to judgement and decision. They may not all actually possess the information and may choose not to make the judgements themselves, but the opportunity must always be available.

Consensus is reached by a process of examination of the various proffered courses of action and rejection of all but one of them. It is a process of attrition of alternatives other than the one to which there remains no significant opposition. That one, then, is the one which is adopted. The fact that it is the band as a whole which decides (i.e. that each adult and near-adult member has the opportunity to participate in the process) is both necessary and sufficient to legitimize what is decided and to make the decision binding on all who are concerned with, and affected by, it.

”… consensus is reached when there remains no significant opposition to the particular proposal.

‘Significant opposition’ … is the dissent of one or more band members to whom the proposal is not acceptable, who feel themselves unable to ‘live with it’ and who are not prepared to concede the decision.

Power & coercion

”… the element of consent in consensus negates coercion, and vice versa. Furthermore, the egalitarian nature of G/wi society makes improbable a political style in which an individual or faction coerces the rest of the band into withdrawing opposition to a proposal.”

It must also be considered that the openness of the band as a social unit would eventually bring about the defeat of a forceful faction when the other members exercised their freedom to move to another band in much the same way as auditory withdrawal is used to adjourn debate when feelings run too high.

Power lies in what the band judges to be competent assessment of the gains and costs of following a particular course of action and the entries in that book-keeping include not only the material benefits but also the social balance-sheet.

The style of band politics is facilitative, rather than forceful, seeking ways of getting things done, means of accommodating dissent and transposing discord into harmony without drowning out the dissenter’s distinctive melody. Leadership is authoritative, rather than authoritarian and what an individual strives for is cooperation in the activities he or she wishes to undertake.

Related posts:
Sociocracy requires a new mindset
Scrum vs. Sociocracy
Sociocratic principles can be implemented in many ways
Sociocracy is a method, and still it isn’t
Implementing sociocracy without sociocracy
Sociocracy as practiced by the G/wi
Policies vs. agreements
Scaling sociocracy is all about the context
Unspoken sociocratic principles
Cultural dimensions of sociocracy
Holacracy vs. sociocracy
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Are Holacracy and sociocracy Teal?
The big misconception in sociocracy
Is Sociocracy an empty method?

Related posts in Swedish:
Holakrati, holokrati och sociokrati
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 1)?
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 2)?
Sociokrati är som permakultur, fast för människor
Sociokrati är som en skogsträdgård
Kurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod, som sociokrati bygger på
En historisk tillbakablick på kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Sociokratibok: Idag publiceras boken
Några tankar om sociokrati
Min gästblogg på #skolvåren: Att organisera oss rätt

Cultural dimensions of sociocracy

I think that sociocratic principles are equally applicable to all groups regardless of their culture, but I also think the Sociocratic Circle-Organization Method has to be tailored depending on the culture. For example, what will be considered as an efficient circle meeting depends on whether you are linear or flexible with your time. Acceptable behavior by the operations leader will be determined by whether you are from an egalitarian or a hierarchical culture. The elections will be influenced by how direct or indirect you are with feedback (the Dutch culture is very direct!). The consent decision making itself will be influenced by whether you are used to consensual or top-down decision making. And maybe, the focus on the method, rather than on the principles, is culturally dependent? The British and US cultures are applications first, the US very much so!

The cultural dimensions mentioned above are from The Culture Map by Erin Meyer.

Related posts:
Sociocracy requires a new mindset
Scrum vs. Sociocracy
Sociocratic principles can be implemented in many ways
Sociocracy is a method, and still it isn’t
Implementing sociocracy without sociocracy
Sociocracy as practiced by the G/wi
Policies vs. agreements
Scaling sociocracy is all about the context
Unspoken sociocratic principles
A prerequisite for sociocracy is a socios
Holacracy vs. sociocracy
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Are Holacracy and sociocracy Teal?
The big misconception in sociocracy
Is Sociocracy an empty method?

Related posts in Swedish:
Holakrati, holokrati och sociokrati
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 1)?
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 2)?
Sociokrati är som permakultur, fast för människor
Sociokrati är som en skogsträdgård
Kurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod, som sociokrati bygger på
En historisk tillbakablick på kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Sociokratibok: Idag publiceras boken
Några tankar om sociokrati
Min gästblogg på #skolvåren: Att organisera oss rätt

Unspoken sociocracy principles

Below are the unspoken sociocracy principles as Ted Millich sees them. The quote is from his mail to the Sociocracy email discussion list on Yahoo, April 24, 2015:

”I once made a list of what I thought were sort of unspoken sociocracy principles and asked Gerard Endenburg what he thought about them.

Endenburg told me that he thought transparency was the most important quality, so I added it

Here’s my list of all the elements of sociocracy (which includes the 4 principles):
1. Transparency
2. Purpose: Regularly Updated Vision, Mission, and Aim
3. Consent Decision-Making for policy and elections
4. Feedback
    a) Within circles – Measuring in the circle process
    b) Between circles – Double Links
    c) With outsiders in the top circle
    e) Compensation – Monetary and other
    f) Circles examine Workflow (The 9-Block Chart)
5. Self-Ownership (The enterprise buys itself from its owners)
6. Continuous Development (Integral Education)
7. Logbooks (Institutional Memory)
8. Embrace the Paradox (By sharing power you have more power, constant change becomes a steady state, Measuring something changes it, John Buck suggested this)

Of these, the ones that aren’t included in the 4 Principles are:
1. Transparency
4[e]. Compensation – Monetary and other
6. Continuous Development (Integral Education)
8. Embrace the Paradox (By sharing power you have more power, constant change becomes a steady state, Measuring something changes it)

Maybe transparency is a prerequisite for feedback just as equivalence is a prerequisite for consent decision-making? And maybe, self-responsibility is a prerequisite for continuous development?

Related posts:
Sociocracy requires a new mindset
Scrum vs. Sociocracy
Sociocratic principles can be implemented in many ways
Sociocracy is a method, and still it isn’t
Implementing sociocracy without sociocracy
Sociocracy as practiced by the G/wi
Policies vs. agreements
Scaling sociocracy is all about the context
Cultural dimensions of sociocracy
A prerequisite for sociocracy is a socios
Holacracy vs. sociocracy
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Are Holacracy and sociocracy Teal?
The big misconception in sociocracy
Is Sociocracy an empty method?

Related posts in Swedish:
Holakrati, holokrati och sociokrati
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 1)?
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 2)?
Sociokrati är som permakultur, fast för människor
Sociokrati är som en skogsträdgård
Kurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod, som sociokrati bygger på
En historisk tillbakablick på kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Sociokratibok: Idag publiceras boken
Några tankar om sociokrati
Min gästblogg på #skolvåren: Att organisera oss rätt

Scaling sociocracy is all about the context

Scaling sociocracy is all about the context. And it has to be done by invitation in the first place. Sociocracy is, in a wider sense, rule by the ”socios,” people who have a social relationship with each other. The following is a quote of John Schinnerer from the Sociocracy email discussion list on Yahoo, April 17, 2015:

”Context is everything. When you don’t have socios, sociocracy may have some parts and pieces to offer the situation, but is not likely to function as designed. … Doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. But consent is fundamental. They would need to consent to working that way, first of all.”

I think that collaboration arises naturally somehow, including necessary structures, if there’s a ”socios” and something really important is at stake. And I think that we focus too much on the methods, and too little on the context, including the ”socios.” Sociocracy will not scale unless there is a ”socios” and a clear common aim, which has importance or urgency to it.

Related posts:
Sociocracy requires a new mindset
Scrum vs. Sociocracy
Sociocratic principles can be implemented in many ways
Sociocracy is a method, and still it isn’t
Implementing sociocracy without sociocracy
Sociocracy as practiced by the G/wi
Policies vs. agreements
Unspoken sociocratic principles
Cultural dimensions of sociocracy
A prerequisite for sociocracy is a socios
Holacracy vs. sociocracy
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Are Holacracy and sociocracy Teal?
The big misconception in sociocracy
Is Sociocracy an empty method?

Related posts in Swedish:
Holakrati, holokrati och sociokrati
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 1)?
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 2)?
Sociokrati är som permakultur, fast för människor
Sociokrati är som en skogsträdgård
Kurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod, som sociokrati bygger på
En historisk tillbakablick på kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Sociokratibok: Idag publiceras boken
Några tankar om sociokrati
Min gästblogg på #skolvåren: Att organisera oss rätt

Några tankar om sociokrati

Det är en paradox att efter att ha skrivit en sociokratibok så upplever jag att sociokrati, som metod, har blivit alltmer ointressant. Det verkligt intressanta är de sociokratiska principerna, t.ex. likvärdighet vid beslutsfattandet, men dessa är å andra sidan inte unika för sociokrati. Ett exempel finns här och handlar om kväkarna som har 350-års erfarenhet av att söka enighet vid beslut. Ett annat exempel finns här (på engelska) och handlar om jägar/samlar-folk som har tillämpat sociokrati i tiotusentals år.

Mitt intryck att sociokrati, som metod, inte fullt ut tar konsekvenserna av de sociokratiska idealen. Sociokrati är å ena sidan extremt radikal när det gäller synen på likvärdighet i beslutsfattandet, men är å andra sidan samtidigt väldigt traditionell i synen att det går att styra mänskligt beteende med regelverk. En sociokratiskt organisation är regelstyrd. Exempel på avgräsningar är att:

  • det enbart är policy-beslut, dvs beslut kring regler, som fattas genom samtycke;
  • det är den ”högre” kretsen som utser den ”lägre” kretsens ledare; och att
  • det endast är ”toppkretsen” i organisationen som är dubbel-länkad med sin omgivning.

Jag förstår inte varför beslut genom samtycke ska begränsas till att enbart gälla regler (eng. policies). I boken Reinventing Organizations ger t.ex. Frederick Laloux exempel på organisationer där ”alla kan fatta vilka beslut som helst” (s. 102), så länge som den som fattar beslutet tar personligt ansvar och rådgör med de som berörs. Ett annat utmärkt exempel på samtycke – i realtid, kan man säga – är ”lagen om rörlighet” i Open Space. Jag förstår inte heller varför det inte är kretsen själv som, i normalfallet, utser sin egen ledare. Och jag kan se fördelar med att fler kretsar än ”toppkretsen” dubbellänkar sig med sin omgivning. Ett exempel skulle kunna vara att produktionskretsen i en organisation är dubbellänkad med leverantörskretsen i en annan organisation. För övrigt anser jag att det är olyckligt att man talar om ”högre” och ”lägre” i en kretsorganisation. I en pyramid finns en ”topp” och en ”botten”. Det gör det inte i ett nätverk av dubbellänkade kretsar! Betydelsen av regelverk, och acceptansen av hierarkiskt ledarskap, är kulturellt betingat. Fler tankar kring sociokrati och olika kulturer finns här (på engelska). Och ett exempel på vår tusenåriga icke-hierarkiska skandinaviska konsensus-kultur finns här (på engelska).

Tittar vi på den praktiska tillämpningen av sociokrati blir det riktigt intressant när det görs invändingar mot beslut! Här har jag noterat skillnader mellan det jag har sett av sociokratiskt beslutsfattande i praktiken och kväkarnas beslutsmetod. Jag har t.ex. sett hur en erfaren sociokrati-konsult, troligen omedvetet, ökat tempot och satt den som gör en invänding under tidspress när det ”hettat till” på riktigt. Att hantera invändingar är svårt! I sådana situationer drar kväkarna medvetet ner på tempot genom att inbjuda till tystnad. Detta kallar svenska kväkare för ”framkallningstid”.

Ytterligare ett perspektiv är att sociokrati, förutom att vara en uppsättning principer och metoder (t.ex. Sociocratic Circle Organization Method, Holacracy och Sociocracy 3.0), också är en rörelse (eng. movement) – ja, t.o.m. en affärsmodell. För sociokrati, som affärsmodell, är normer och certifiering viktiga. Argumentet är att säkra kvaliteten, men det handlar naturligtvis också om att skapa en marknad för utbildning och konsulttjänster. Om det för rörelsen framåt låter jag vara osagt.

Min slutsats är att det inte är metoderna i sig som är viktiga, utan förhållningssättet! Om du inte förstår eller accepterar principerna, så hjälper ingen metod i världen. Metoden kan hjälpa till att skapa en förståelse för principerna, men det är ingen garanti. Och du kan bryta mot principerna även om du följer metoden.

Relaterade inlägg:
Holakrati, holokrati och sociokrati
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 1)?
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 2)?
Sociokrati är som permakultur, fast för människor
Sociokrati är som en skogsträdgård
Kurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod, som sociokrati bygger på
En historisk tillbakablick på kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Sociokratibok: Idag publiceras boken
Min gästblogg på #skolvåren: Att organisera oss rätt
Medborgarlön är en sociokratisk tanke

Relaterade inlägg på engelska:
Sociocracy requires a new mindset
Scrum vs. Sociocracy
Sociocratic principles can be implemented in many ways
Sociocracy is a method, and still it isn’t
Implementing sociocracy without sociocracy
Sociocracy as practiced by the G/wi
Policies vs. agreements
Scaling sociocracy is all about the context
Unspoken sociocratic principles
Cultural dimensions of sociocracy
A prerequisite for sociocracy is a socios
Book Review: Sociocracy by Gerard Endenburg
Book Review: Holacracy by Brian Robertson
Holacracy vs. Sociocracy
The phenomenology of sociocracy (The way of seeing in sociocracy)

Self-organization is the real operating system

Here are quotes of Daniel Mezick from an email to the World wide Open Space Technology email list March 20, 2015. (My emphasis in bold.)

Harrison you once said recently:

The real operating system is self-organization, Daniel. Everything else is an app. Open Space included!”

I’ve just recently integrated this idea more fully into my thinking. I must admit it has taken ”some time.”

That said, my current belief is: most organizations are at a very low level of development and can use/typically need the ”app” of Open Space…and/or the ”app” of Scrum… and/or the ”app” of Sociocracy, what have you.

I think [facilitation] does fit nicely as a kind of component or ”widget” in each ”app” (facilitation being part of OST, Scrum, Kanban) …all of which run on the real OS of self-organization.

So these are all self-org ”apps.” The ”f” word does after all has the connotation of: ”making it easy.”

Daniel Mezick continues writing the following in an email March 22, 2015.

My current belief is that self-organization is what actually scales, not some app. Not some ”framework.” Now, if folks are compelled to ”do it the way I say”, or ”do this framework like I tell you…” …..how does positive self-organization happen again?

Because… truth be told, I do not see how any kind of Agile stuff can scale FOR REAL without creating the fertile conditions for self-organization to go enterprise-wide. Thousands of people. Isn’t self-organization what ACTUALLY scales?

Because…well…. I have simply never seen it done any other way.

I’ve never seen it done by forcing stuff on people without their consent, without invitation. And I’ve never seen it done with inviting the folks affected to express what they think and feel about ”the solution we are using”…

I think Harrison Owen and Daniel Mezick are right. The follow-up question then is: What can we do to enable and sustain company-wide self-organization? My search continues…

Related posts:
Self-organization is the real operating system
Emergence is simply what life does
Empowerment is a red herring
Pre-conditions for self-organization
What if the organization is a living system?
Facilitating an Open Space
How to enable and sustain self-organization
TEDxTalk on Open Space Technology

Sociokratibok: Idag publicerades boken

sociokratibok_litenIdag publicerade John Schinnerer och jag vår sociokratibok. Arbetet påbörjades i juli 2013. Den 1:a delen av boken beskriver de grundläggande principerna i sociokrati. Den 2:a delen innehåller vanliga frågor och svar. I den 3:e delen finns arbetsmaterial som sammanfattar och kompletterar bokens två första delar. Framtida versioner av boken kommer att utökas med fler frågor och svar, samt ytterligare arbetsmaterial. Vi har också pratat om att skriva en engelsk version av boken.

Relaterade inlägg:
Min jämförelse av holakrati och sociokrati (på engelska)
Holakrati, holokrati och sociokrati
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 1)?
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 2)?
Sociokrati är som permakultur, fast för människor
Sociokrati är som en skogsträdgård
Kurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod, som sociokrati bygger på
En historisk tillbakablick på kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Sociokratibok: Idag publiceras boken
Några tankar om sociokrati
Min gästblogg på #skolvåren: Att organisera oss rätt

Implementing sociocracy without sociocracy

Implementing sociocracy without sociocracy might seem as a contradiction in terms, but what I mean is that it is possible to implement sociocracy (the principles) without sociocracy (the method). I have written previously here, here, and here that sociocratic principles can be implemented in many ways.

It’s important to make the distinction between sociocratic principles on one hand, and any particular implementation of sociocracy on the other. The Sociocratic Circle-organization Method is one way to make sociocratic principles operational. Furthermore, you can still abuse the principles even if you use a sociocratic method. What’s important is not the method, but the attitude! If you don’t understand the principles, no method will help. A method might help understanding the principles, but it’s no guarantee.

What’s so fundamental with the sociocratic principles?  I think it’s feedback and autonomy. Organizations are living systems, and living systems are made up of a staggering number of feedback loops. These feedback loops need to be interlinked in such a way that the organization continuously can adapt its internal organization to the changing demands of its environment. The ability to self-organize is in turn dependent on autonomy. The people in the organization must be able to make their own informed choices. And it will require definite (but open) boundaries, which connect the organization and its people with the world around it. A living organization has feedback and autonomy at its roots.

Related posts:
Sociocracy requires a new mindset
Scrum vs. Sociocracy
Sociocratic principles can be implemented in many ways
Sociocracy is a method, and still it isn’t
Sociocracy as practiced by the G/wi
Policies vs. agreements
Scaling sociocracy is all about the context
Unspoken sociocratic principles
Cultural dimensions of sociocracy
A prerequisite for sociocracy is a socios
Holacracy vs. sociocracy
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Are Holacracy and sociocracy Teal?
The big misconception in sociocracy
Is Sociocracy an empty method?

Related posts in Swedish:
Holakrati, holokrati och sociokrati
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 1)?
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 2)?
Sociokrati är som permakultur, fast för människor
Sociokrati är som en skogsträdgård
Kurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod, som sociokrati bygger på
En historisk tillbakablick på kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Sociokratibok: Idag publiceras boken
Några tankar om sociokrati
Min gästblogg på #skolvåren: Att organisera oss rätt

Sociocracy as practiced by the G/wi

Sociocracy is a rediscovery of something our ancestors have practiced for tens of thousands of years. Nomadic hunter-gatherer band societies practice it, and have likely been practicing it, since prehistoric times. Here is an example from Politics and history in band societies, edited by Eleanor Leacock and Richard Lee, pages 32 and 34:

Activity in the [G/wi] band is goal-directed. … Consensus is reached by a process of examination of the various proffered courses of action and rejection of all but one of them. It is a process of attrition of alternatives other than the one to which there remains no significant opposition. That one, then, is the one which is adopted. The fact that it is the band as a whole which decides (i.e. that each adult and near-adult member has the opportunity to participate in the process) is both necessary and sufficient to legitimize what is decided and to make the decision binding on all who are concerned with, and affected by, it.

This does not mean that consensus is arrived at by a mere sorting process which always identifies a single course of action among the proffered alternatives as being the correct one. If this were so then consensus would, indeed, be synonymous with unanimity. That it is not is because consensus is reached when there remains no significant opposition to the particular proposal.

”‘Significant opposition’ … is the dissent of one or more band members to whom the proposal is not acceptable, who feel themselves unable to ‘live with it’ and who are not prepared to concede the decision.

Related posts:
Sociocracy requires a new mindset
Scrum vs. Sociocracy
Sociocratic principles can be implemented in many ways
Sociocracy is a method, and still it isn’t
Implementing sociocracy without sociocracy
Sociocracy as practiced by the G/wi
Policies vs. agreements
Scaling sociocracy is all about the context
Unspoken sociocratic principles
Cultural dimensions of sociocracy
A prerequisite for sociocracy is a socios
Holacracy vs. sociocracy
The phenomenology of sociocracy
Are Holacracy and sociocracy Teal?
The big misconception in sociocracy
Is Sociocracy an empty method?

Related posts in Swedish:
Holakrati, holokrati och sociokrati
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 1)?
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 2)?
Sociokrati är som permakultur, fast för människor
Sociokrati är som en skogsträdgård
Kurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod, som sociokrati bygger på
En historisk tillbakablick på kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Sociokratibok: Idag publiceras boken
Några tankar om sociokrati
Min gästblogg på #skolvåren: Att organisera oss rätt

Sociokrati är som en skogsträdgård

Esbjörn Wandt skriver i Skogsträdgården på Holma att ”det finns intressanta paralleller mellan hur sociokrati och en skogsträdgård fungerar” eftersom båda bygger på självorganisation. I artikeln beskriver Esbjörn hur det levande bygger på ”ett samspel mellan självorganiserande enheter” och ”ett ständigt flöde av energi, materia och information”. På samma sätt påminner sociokrati om naturen med sina självstyrande grupper, som är kopplade till varandra ”i ett flödande växelspel med omgivningen”. Det handlar om att ge rätt förutsättningar — sedan sköter livet resten!

Relaterade inlägg:
Holakrati, holokrati och sociokrati
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 1)?
Hur införa sociokrati i en organisation (del 2)?
Sociokrati är som permakultur, fast för människor
Sociokrati är som en skogsträdgård
Kurs i kväkarnas beslutsmetod, som sociokrati bygger på
En historisk tillbakablick på kväkarnas beslutsmetod
Sociokratibok: Idag publiceras boken
Några tankar om sociokrati
Min gästblogg på #skolvåren: Att organisera oss rätt

Ackoff on consensus

I have written previously here that I am convinced that sociocratic principles can be implemented in many ways. Below is an additional example from Russel L. Ackoff on the use of consensus which sounds very sociocratic to me:

Decisions made by a majority of participants usually create a dissatisfied minority.

Decision-making by consensus avoids such abuse, but it appears to make reaching a conclusion very difficult if not impossible. This only appears to be the case because the nature of consensus is not well understood. It is complete agreement, not in principle, by in practice.

Agreement in practice is agreement to act; it does not require that the approved action is taken by all to be the best in principle.

When consensus is not reached, an attempt should first be made to design a test of the alternatives proposed, a test that all the participants accept as fair and one by whose outcome they are willing to abide.”

… I have never experienced one [session] in which consensus could not be reached …

Source: Russell L. Ackoff, The Democratic Corporation, pp. 81—83.