Sociocracy UK

How-to, community & developing Collaborative Governance in the UK

UK Sociocracy Case Studies - please add stories and links below

Quick 5 minute task
Please share 2 paragraphs including - name of project and contact + What did you find challenging about implementing Sociocracy? What worked well?

Please be encouraged to write in more detail, but we want to make it easy for you.

Part of our motivation for starting and supporting this community is because we sensed a lack of connection between people who have been using or discovering Sociocracy in the UK, and case studies have not been visible. Please post any stories and links that you know of here, and help us make the invisible, visible:

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The Non Violent Communication (NVC) community is using Sociocracy to organise, as the practical application of their values in the workplace: http://www.nvc-uk.com/group/sociocracy
S.E.E.D. Co-op, trading as DecisionLab, has been operating as a Sociocratic company since inception, and by design, both in practice and legally, since its articles of association contain the sociocratic articles. We believe that was (is?) the first example of sociocratic incorporation in the UK, and possibly the first incorporation of a sociocratic co-operative company in the world (although we know that other co-operatives have been using Sociocracy in various ways).
SociocracyUK is the name being used by those contributing to the development of this site, community and emergent infrastructure. It still feels quite embryonic, but there is a strong sense of momentum - both movement and direction. We have been using sociocratic practice informally, and now as we develop and begin to look outwards, we are looking to formalise, embed good practice, and pursue the recommended sociocratic start up process.

Rather than a project it's more an ongoing experience.

The question is how to balance desire for anonymity with desire for transparency, openness and congruence. To provide space for 'difficult conversations' without forcing them to the point of creating social awkwardness.

One example is when we had a company decision to allow three new members of staff to become shareholders of the company. Each made a proposal, there were questions and answers, then, publicly, people voted. It didn't feel like you could vote against the proposal because it was so personal to the people involved. 

Should this vote have been done anonymously? In which case there would be little/no opportunity to raise concerns/objections to allow for a flexible response. But when it's a highly sensitive, personal issue, are people truely able to raise objections anyway? How do we decide which decisions should be made anonymously - what are the criteria we can use to check against it? Where do we address this as part of our decision making process?

Sorry if this raises more questions than it answers!

Hi Martin,

Things are progressing with Community Draught Busters. Our system thinking is has found its way back around to looking at ways to arranging a good time to meet with you. 

So as i'm a the site Manager of the Remakery on Wednesday Thursday and Friday if by any chance you have an interest in seeing the site then maybe it would be a good chance to talk about out progress. 

Still haven't meet you yet so look forward to a meeting.

I put up my background on the ning ASAP.

Hi, Martin:

We are a consumer goods company, specifically in the food and beverage industry, located in Indonesia, not in the UK :)

We have just started to roll out our gradual experiment and roll out of our version of holacracy/sociocracy.

Since every company is unique, including ours, we decided to call our implementation not holacracy or sociocracy, but our own name.
This way we hope that we can adopt the best parts from any inplementation as we evolve, including other future way of organizing yet to be discovered.

We started with holacracy and adopted the constitution, and put our "consitution" layer on top of the original holacracy constitution. This top layer constitution is what our organization use and is considered the official "constitution" for our organization.
The hope is that we can then activate, deactivate, and modify parts of the holacracy constitution to suit us, including to suit our level of experience with this new thing.

We chose to start with the general management circle first, with no roles, other than facilitator, and secretary, which we elect. At governance meetings as well as through emails, we let each member propose roles into this circle the way each member sees fit to start.
We have only gone through 2 real governance meetings so far, but had a flurry of proposed roles and policies through emails that everyone consented to by email.

We are going to do implementation on this circle until such time that all circle members can get a feeling of the benefits of using this new way, as well as a better understanding of its real essence. As of right now, our understanding keeps evolving as we continue to practice and absorb new information.

I can think of many challenges that we are and will be facing, but some of the major ones right now:

1. Understanding the real essence of sociocracy, and not just the outer appearances of circles, consent, etc. There is a reason why sociocracy was born and getting alignment and deep understanding on this is my first major challenge. I think I understand most of it, but my understanding still keeps evolving.

2. Reluctance and skepticism of other circle members :). This is a big one, as with any change happening in an organization. This problem is compounded with the fact that I also don't have all the answers. When I don't have answers to their questions, my last resort statement has been: "let's bring the tension into governance and work out our own solution to your concern that way"

3. Getting as much information and guidance as possible for us to try out so that we have a complete understanding of all the methods and principles, and can decide whether we want to adopt all, or modify parts of them.
Consent based decision making is one area. We have been doing a mild version of autocratic decision making, i.e. trying to hear all views and modify the approach to eliminate negative issues, but then final decision is made by one person. Now that we are experimenting with consent based decision making for governance, questions have come up whether we are doing it the way the "right" way.

4. Trying to do too much at the same time and stressing out the whole team.


Well, I'll stop right here, since I have ended up with a little more than 2 paragraphs :)

Hi Dien

My name is Francois, and I read your description and was intrigued.  I have lived and worked in Japan for over 15 years, working in various industries, to a large part involved in transfering lean manufacturing processes and management to other parts of the world, and I was intrigued by your story of introducing sociocracy to your Indonesian company. Compared to Western management most of what I experienced in Asia, and Japan in particular, is far more consensus-driven, collaborative and collectivistic, and sociocracy to me is an alternative way of management to the standard Western style, which conventionally is far more individualistic, adversarial and non-consultative.  I must confess, however, that Indonesia is one of the few South East Asian countries I have not visited, I am afraid to say, so I am somewhat less familiar with the management culture there.

I would imagine introducing sociocracy in your culture would be quite different to introducing it here.  This really comes to the core of one the things you say, in point 1: "There is a reason why sociocracy was born ......"  and I should add that the reason is far more bound in the culture it was developed in, i.e. Europe where management styles are quite different from Asia.  I could well imagine that some sociocratic things you are already doing quite naturally, maybe not in exactly the same way, without needing extensive training, whereas elaborate processes and training is required to overcome some of cultural hurdles here.  In other words I would imagine introducing sociocracy in Indonesia could be somewhat different from introducing it here (in the UK), and consequently some things may not make as much sense in your context.

I would therefore like to hear more from you.  In particular I'm interested in hearing a bit more about your business, what services you offer, how big you are, and what kind of management structure you have.  I'd also be interested in hearing what specifically motivated you to introduce holacracy in your company (why holacracy and not sociocracy?) and in particular some of the hurdles you are facing.   And finally how you see the Sociocracy UK community being able to assist in your endeavours, if at all.  I look forward to hearing more.

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