Sociocracy UK

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

Recently I have been exploring what drives me and others, why we really use sociocracy beyond it being effective and efficient. Why have the Non Violent Communication (NVC) community been using it, why was it developed in part by prominent Quakers, and key early figures such as Auguste Comte?

It may exist, but I don't remember seeing a clear and simple statement of the values that underpin sociocracy, and I think it would be useful for the purpose of teaching and applying it. I understand that it can be applied as an 'empty method' to any organisation.

However, one question I have, as an extreme example, is: Could it be applied in a weapons manufacturing firm?

Our personal ethics and 'line in the sand' about who we would or would not work with, might be clear to us. Some of us may hope that by encouraging such organisations to adopt sociocracy, we may in turn, through participation and over time greater attunement to the values of employees, empower such orgs to transform from within, to a different mission. I would not be able to assist such a firm to become more efficient and effective  in fulfilling its current mission. Moreover, I feel that it would be fundamentally in opposition to the historical origins of sociocracy, which has been extensively developed by pacifists as a means to securing a future beyond violence and tyranny. They were clearly motivated, like me and I think most of us, by a strong moral code.

I would be very interested in developing a simple (no more than one page) statement which clearly sets out what that code of ethics is, or being pointed toward any work that has already been done on the subject.

Please do share your wisdom or resources below.

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I would happily consult for a weapons manufacturing firm and would insist in the contract that they include a sociocratic expert and expert from the social environment on their top circle and that they convert their bylaws to  sociocratic bylaws. They probably wouldn't accept such a contract, and if they did they would need to do some very creative thinking when those expert members started objecting to the company's aim. Maybe the company would start converting its swords to plowshares - and probably the company would back away from the contract. - John

This is a bit of a difficult question, but one that I've thought a little about. I am picking out a couple of values that I think are either propounded by sociocracy, or are derived from using its processes.

One is Transparency. Gerard Endenburg said he thought this was the most important value or quality to make sociocracy work, even though it's not usually mentioned in the elements/principles/rules.

Since feedback is an important part of this method, I believe we can extrapolate that out to also mean gathering as much good info as we can before making a decision. I think we can also extend it to mean that critical thinking is a part of sociocracy.

This brings up the diversity of information, as well as diversity of participants, as being necessary for good decision making. Personally, I think this goes directly against the notion of trumping arguments with the bible or any other religious book.

Sociocracy was developed with systems to keep its elements equivalent in power, that is, keep people equal, so Dispersed Power or Equality is another underlying value. I think this is wrapped up in speaking up, and listening, and the idea that people should have Autonomy over their own lives and I'm not sure which word I want to use to capture this quality, but since I used Dispersed Power on a chart I made, I'm going to stick with that for now.

I think that since the sociocratic method creates Co-operation instead of competition that that would also be an underlying value.

Since another part of sociocracy is the vision, mission, aim (VMA), I think Purpose is a value that is more front and center than it is in other methods.

Even though Self-Ownership isn't always promoted as heavily as the rest of the method, it is still an important and vital quality and is one reason why sociocrats refer to sociocratic enterprises as "free organizations." [BTW, I get tired of using the word 'organization,' so I've started using 'enterprise.']

In a message through the sociocracy yahoo group Sharon Villines also included accountability, inclusion, and effective action, but since I'm not sure how she came up with these I am not including them in my list.


So, in conclusion, my list of values created by a sociocratic enterprise would be: transparency, feedback, diversity, dispersed power, co-operation, purpose, self-ownership.

Non of these go directly against running a weapons manufacturing firm, but I think discussions of purpose would lead to interesting exchanges about personal values and what is moral behaviour.

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