Circle Structure Introduction

What is a circle in sociocracy?

circle in sociocracy is a working group with defined membership that has authority to make decisions in a certain domain. In organizations with more than one circle, circles are nested in a way so that each has clarity over their domain and can do its work while still being connected with the other circles. Circles are double-linked by a leader and delegate to ensure flow of information across the organization. 

Example Circle Structure

Example Circle Structure General circle has sub-circles: Distribution Circle, fundraising Circle, people circle Distribution circle has sub-circles: store circle, delivery truck circle People circle has sub-circles: volunteer management circle HR & schedule circle

This example is for an organization that has a mission of providing affordable food access through a low-cost grocery store and grocery delivery service.

  • The Mission Circle sets the overall vision and mission for the organization.
  • The General Circle makes the aims of the organization operational by delegating authority to departmental subcircles, which perform the operations of the organization.
  • The Fundraising Circle both performs all fundraising-related tasks, and also sets fundraising policy and workflow guidelines.
  • The People Circle serves to direct two sub-circles, Volunteer Management and HR/ Schedule. The sub-circles perform tasks and set workflows for HR and Volunteer Management, and also send a Leader and Delegate to the People Circle to make sure all activities are coordinated.
  • Similarly, the Distribution Circle coordinates the Delivery Truck Circle and Store Circle, which perform store and delivery truck related tasks.

Why use a sociocratic circle structure?

The benefits of using a circle structure are that small working groups make decisions about how to get work done. Everyone’s voices and ideas are heard through consent decision-making. There is a balance between inclusiveness, shared power, and efficiency. Those who do the work and are affected by decisions are empowered to decide together. Double-linking ensures that the whole organization is connected and informed about decisions in other circles. Try your hand at drawing a circle structure today!

Learn More about Circle Structures