KittenTech: A For-profit With Decentralized Governance

Interested in implementing sociocracy in a for-profit organization?

KittenTech was a young digital transformation consultancy that partnered with client businesses to help them deliver better digital products (e.g.: mobile apps) to their customers faster. This often involved helping clients restructure their business to optimize accuracy in measuring the changing needs of their clients and the speed at which they respond, such as through releasing a new or updated mobile app. KittenTech intentionally limited the layers of leadership and, those few leaders, actively pushed decisions into their teams in order to encourage faster decentralized decision making.

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Structural issues

While aspects of KittenTech’s government model.

  • Firstly, as KittenTech grew, it became more difficult to disseminate information across the organization in the absence of a management layer. This information was often important in informing distributed decision making.
  • Secondly, KittenTech carefully curated a diverse set of consultants as it recognized the value of diverse viewpoints in solving problems. However, this diversity naturally led to a dichotomy, with some consultants being more outspoken and willing to share their views, and others being more quietly spoken and less forward with their ideas.

Together this helped KittenTech understand that, as it continued to grow, it would be even
more important to find a method for disseminating information across the organization and
ensure all views from its diverse base of consultants were heard to inform distributed
problem solving and decision making.
KittenTech also realized that solutions to these problems would be informative when restructuring their clients businesses.

Going forward

Upon being fortuitously exposed to Sociocracy through one of its consultants attending
SoFA’s Sociocracy Leadership Course, KittenTech ran two sessions for interested
consultants to together explore Sociocracy as an opportunity to tackle some of the
challenges the organization faced.

After an overview of sociocracy’s consent decision making model and a session of proposal shaping, a proposal for a sociocratic circle structure was formed. With the new organizational structure, information dissemination would be supported by centering circles around clients, as this was seen as the primary dimension of collaboration, with sub-circles forming around client projects as needed. Cross-pollination between clients would be supported by both the general circle and other dimensions of circles, such as circles for communities of practice. Circles formed around projects – and potentially around clients – would be transitory in nature. when a project ends the circle would be disbanded in favor of a circle for whatever new project – or client – comes about.

The organizational structure below is an example outcome supported by the proposal:

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KittenTech proposed structure.

The next step in KittenTech’s sociocracy journey is to share the grassroots proposal, along with the associated benefits and potential obstacles, with leadership so they can make an informed decision as to whether they feel Sociocracy is the right tool given their broader strategic view of the organization. Should leadership feel this is the appropriate way forward, the implementation and greater details can be discussed.

Hopefully a sociocratic future awaits KittenTech, with the potential to accelerate the
decentralized organization through supporting information dissemination and the hearing of every voice.