“This is the closest I’ve ever felt to the group”

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sociocracy: effective governance

This is a little story one of our participants in the current Sociocracy Leadership Training shared with all SoLT members today. We had told the group that only DOING sociocracy makes a difference, not thinking about it, and there they go and change the world!

I’m in a group of about six people that have been meeting regularly for over 5 years. We originally clustered together around a shared interest in co-housing. Our gatherings have always included a potluck component and have included some sort of check-in for probably almost as long. Check-in is a major part of our time together with an hour dedicated to it. However, I know that some in the group have been seeing less value in the check-ins recently. So, this time, before we checked in I asked “can we check in about check in?” I checked for agreement, and then prompted “so, let’s just go around in the circle and take a few minutes to say your thoughts about check-in.. what do you like? what don’t you like?” (i.e. I was doing a “reaction” round of sorts)

I listened and took notes, and then I recapped out loud to make sure I got everything and to aid the group memory. (checking for clarity)

There was interest from the group in re-thinking how we did check-ins together, so it seemed at this point like it would be worthwhile to focus on values. “What do you value from the check-ins that we do, or what value is important to you about checking in that maybe we aren’t doing now. Let’s do a round on that.” I took notes and did a re-cap again. This values discussion seemed like an initial step of picture forming to me, so in the next round I asked for ideas about check-in– “just brainstorming together here, so just say your ideas and if you have a reaction to someone’s idea then channel that into an idea of what you want instead”–and again doing it in rounds. Once we had a lot of ideas, I asked for reactions to the ideas, again using rounds. Through this it seemed we were converging on something and that the group was eager to choose something, so I offered a whole proposal integrating those parts and then did a round to check for objections. No objections!–which means we then went straight into using the new process!

Before we left for the night, I asked the group if they’d give a few minutes to give feedback on how the whole process went for them. I got clear feedback that I didn’t do a good job of letting people know up front how long it would take and that we were doing more than just a quick “check-in about check-in”, so there was some uncomfortableness about that. So, lesson learned! But the other feedback was very positive: “wonderful. Loved being led through it.”; “great!”; “this is the closest I’ve ever felt to the group”

This was the first time I’ve facilitated a decision using the sociocratic decision process and I’m very happy with the process and the results!

I want to point out the quote “This is the closest I’ve ever felt to the group” because it is so true, and I have heard it many times from first-time users of the process. A real participatory process is wonderful, connecting, almost magic. Way to go, Tim!