Sociocracy in a nutshell

Sociocracy in a nutshell

Sociocracy[1] is a whole system approach for efficient governance[2], inclusive decision making, and the ongoing evaluation and improvement of an organisation.

Sociocracy has three core values:

  • equivalence: policy decisions are made in consent with everyone affected by that decision
  • effectiveness: the processes and methods are in harmony with human psychology and make positive contributions (“artful participation”) easy
  • transparency: everything in the organization is transparent by default, unless members consent to having secrets

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A framework for process evaluation

A framework for process evaluation

There’s many processes advertised as the path to organizational or individual enlightenment. But how can we find out if a process has a chance to fulfill that promise? I propose a simple framework to evaluate a process according to a few simple criteria, and a reality check at the end for good measure. I will then apply that framework to some popular processes.

Complete: a good process contains all elements that are required to deliver its promise, not down to the level of minutiae, but good enough to leave no gaps.

Lightweight: a good process is free of fluff, boiled down to the minimal set of practices that are necessary for creating value and learning about the principles that drive these practices.

Synergistic: the practices in the process reinforce each other, together they create more than the mere sum of their parts

Transformational: applying the process allows us to experience something greater than we had before, something that opens new perspectives and new possibilities for growth. A good process is valuable from the start, but it grows on us as we continue to explore it.

Transcendable: eventually, given enough practice, the transformation triggered by the process is “complete”, and we are ready to transcend the process. We embrace the principles behind the process in a way that allows us to apply them naturally and without the harness of the process. (more…)

Who is using sociocracy?

Who is using sociocracy?

When I give presentations or workshops on sociocracy, participants ask me for examples who is using sociocracy in real life. They do like the idea, but often the myth of power structures being necessary for success of an organization makes it hard for them to accept that sociocracy can be applied in an organizational context.

To demonstrate that sociocracy is applied in many organizations (both for-profit and non-profit) and intentional communities across the globe I decided to compile a non exhaustive-list of organizations using sociocracy1.

One reason why so many sociocratic organizations are located in the Netherlands may be that sociocratic organizations are not required to have a worker’s council. I don’t remember where I’ve read that, I will add a source when I find one. (more…)

How vision follows the values

How vision follows the values

Often people approach me about working with their organziations to solve a particular set of problems they have: product delivery is too slow, the product has quality issues, there’s a lack of alignment between departments or branches, they complain about a lack of innovation, or they need a new team that builds a new and better product to replace the mediocre ones they already have out there.

To better understand the context I usually ask them about their organization’s vision and values. Very often there’s no clear vision statement, and the answer goes along the lines of “become profitable”, “make money for the investors”, “become #1 in our target market” or simply prepare an exit. And All these statements may appear to be perfectly valid goals, to top brass who probably have bonuses attached to reaching those goals, but is not a vision to inspire anyone else in the organization. When I dig deeper, I often find that employee turnover is pretty high, and finding talent is becoming increasingly difficult. I don’t think that’s a coincidence, I see that as a direct consequence of the lack of vision: A clear and shared vision is a vital ingredient for sustainable success, because it allows a people to align towards a common goal, a brighter future they all want to be part of creating. A strong vision decouples success from the abilities of “managers” to “motivate”, and enables everyone to make smarter decisions and point out conflicts.

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Organizational Values Workshop

Organizational Values Workshop

Our personal values do not only guide our behaviour, they also influence on our motivation and well-being through how the groups we are with respect and reflect our values. Most organizations or groups are not aware of the values they share, impeding effective collaboration and meaningful relationships between individuals with fruitless discussions that usually go nowhere and leave everyone exhausted.

The aim of this workshop is finding the shared values of a group or organization and implementing strategies for the group to learn living those values. It uses a narrative approach to elicit personal values from each participant and then iteratively consolidates those values into themes with positive value statements to guide behaviour. Reserve some time after the workshop to celebrate. (more…)

Scaling agile with Sociocracy

Scaling agile with Sociocracy

Scaling agile with Sociocracy

We are currently experiencing a paradigm shift in both enterprise and startup culture towards agile. Yet most of the agile transformations fall short of their expected benefits: things usually improve for a while, but then stagnation or even deterioration creeps in.

Agile software development is focused on delivering customer value. Governance in organisations is implicitly or explicitly focused on delivering shareholder value. The traditional way organisations are structured and governed creates a tension: The pull of the customer does not correspond to the way information and decisions travel along hierarchies. Decisions are often made far from the point of the highest density of information about the issue at hand, which affects high level topics as business strategy and portfolio management. At the same time crucial information is often not available at operational level, because it somehow gets lost travelling along the hierarchies. (more…)

Matching a company to the whole person

Matching a company to the whole person

Regardless of what people will tell you, trying to leave our personalities at the door is not possible. Not acknowledging who we are is not going to help with your work relationships and your performance. A job you do should be in line with who you are and what’s important to you.

The following assessments will give you a starting point to explore a cultural match between you and an organization you want to work with.

Part 1: Personal Assessment

A career is a series of experiments, to formulate a hypothesis for your next experiment, you need to figure out where you stand.

The following questions will help you list some assumptions you have about yourself. It’s important to note that your answers will only be assumptions, so make sure you evaluate each of those assumptions periodically to see whether or not they have proven to be true. The human mind has a tendency to assume some things about itself that fit with it’s current mental model, but not with the way we actually feel. (more…)

Transparent Salaries

Transparent Salaries

What is it, who does it, and how do they do it.

Transparent Salaries usually refers to a set of “objective” rules for how to calculate salaries for each employee, and those rules apply to everyone in the company.

Sometimes these rules are public, sometimes even the salaries of individual employees are public, salaries can be set by management or agreed on by all employees.

Putting in place transparent salaries might take a lot of effort, depending on the maturity of a company’s culture. (more…)