Session 1

The first session is to ensure you have the basics of what it takes to run a circle. You will be able to use those two features in any group outside of this Learning Circle:

  • Use rounds. As often as possible. Rounds not only enable everyone to speak, but they also support listening.
  • Always have a facilitator in any group to ensure equal voice, intentionality and effectiveness in your discussions and decisions.

Sociocratic tools you will know about after this session (in all sessions completed so far):

Session 1 preparation (optional)

activityreference materialest. time
PrintPackage session 115 min
Reading about roundsReading on rounds20 min
Reading about roles and electionsReading on elections25 min
Many Voices One SongSections 5.5.1, 5.5.2, 5.5.3, print version: p. 203-21815 min
Many Voices One SongSections 3.6.2, 3.6.3, 3.6.4, print version: p. 131-14915 min

Session video

Session 1 activities (total meeting time: 90min)

activityreference materialest. time
video (0:00)
10 min
selecting a facilitator
video (3:58) (elections sheet in handout, nomination sheets in handout)
25 min
selecting a secretary
video (12:13) (facilitator for rounds, using elections sheets and nominations sheets)
25 min
Q&A elections
video (14:18)
10 min
evaluation round election
video (17:27)
10 min
evaluation round session
video (17:42)
(facilitator for rounds, secretary take notes!)
10 min

Session 1 enrichment (optional)

activityreference materialest. time
articleThe myth of natural flow (how rounds help break power patterns)8 min
videosSee a selection process during a workshop (with trainer comments)30 min
articleOn process roles5 min

Session 1 follow-up with coach

activityreference materialest. time
meet with coachFor groups that have booked a coach: submit the form. You will then receive an email to make a new appointment to talk about session 1 and to prepare session 2.30min

FAQ session 1

  • How do you nominate people for roles if members of the group do not know each other well?
    That is not uncommon. We do selections at the very beginning of the life of an organizations – if the circle has just started out then it is fairly likely that they will not know each other. In an established organization, there might be new people as well. Here are several thoughts to consider:
  • You could do something that gets you more relevant information. One idea is to do a round first where people share something about themselves. In our trainings, we often do a round on “how I see myself in groups” (people will say things like “I tend to sit back and listen”, or “I tend to do things and get impatient with team members” or similar statements).
  • For your consideration: for exactly that reason we do share reasons. Circle member A might know circle member B but not C, while B knows D best. By them all sharing what is relevant to the role, the whole circle gains access to more shared information.
  • Most importantly, note that we never have full information. Even if we have known someone as a friend for years, how would we know what they are like as a secretary? We cannot predict that. We are always making guesses about people in roles and about what kinds of special situations might come up. In that way, a group of complete strangers is only gradually different from a group of people who know each other. The only way we can get the information we need (“how XY will perform in a role”) by trying it out. Make your best guess and see what happens. Do not wait for the perfect situation, it will never come.
  • If selecting someone into a role does not seem safe, suggest to make the term short. You could say “since I don’t know people well, I’d like to review this selection in 3 months. That would make it much easier for me to make a decision here.”
  • What if qualified people are shy and don’t nominate themselves, thus miss out of enlightening the group of their qualifications?
    What is rather likely to happen if there is someone with a lot of potential hidden from the group is that someone nominates that person. We do not have to wait for someone to nominate themselves. Someone else might nominate them. We have seen many people step into leadership who would not have taken on a role had not every circle member expressed their trust and confidence.
    Of course we might never find out how qualified a circle member is in a particular domain. There might be some changes over time, as more introverted people gain trust in the group and the process. But sociocracy is not a magic bullet. Sociocracy provides the space for people to step up but they still need to take that opportunity.
  • How do you respectfully object to the nomination of an unqualified person?
    You stay focused on the task. Answer the question “how would them filling that role affect my ability to contribute to the circle”, and keep ownership of the issue. In different words, don’t make them the “problem” but say how their style conflicts with you needs. For instance, “you facilitation style is muddy”, say “being in meetings is just so much easier for me when, in every moment, I am clear on what we’re doing”. Beyond that, this question feeds into a much bigger topic of “how to give feedback”.