Sociocracy at Work

“Working in a sociocratic organisation is like playing in a band where everyone is master of their instrument but we’re playing as one, without a rigid structure that determines the way the different instruments sound together.

Within this, our circle and role structure is like the sheet music: you need it to understand how the music works (especially at the beginning!) but at the end of the day, it’s not what makes the music – what makes the music is what individuals do with it.”

Lara Portmann

Nothing AG (Switzerland)

Key Concepts of Sociocracy

Sociocracy focuses on organizational self-governance:

  • consent as a pragmatic and inclusive decision-making method, and
  • organizational structure with small empowered teams,
  • a built-in practice to evolve and learn continuously.

Sociocracy and Other Frameworks

We consider sociocracy one of the frameworks in this mix of frameworks designed to make systems that determine our lives more human and holistic.
Sociocracy is often combined with agile, compassionate and integral frameworks.

Top-down implementations of sociocracy are possible but not typical. More often, it is a team effort of changer-makers in the organization re-designing its governance system from within. Purpose-driven organizations will find the best fit in sociocracy.

Who is Already Doing it?

Who is using sociocracy in business and workplaces in general?

This list is FAR from complete. Many learn about sociocracy and we might never hear about it.
Help us by telling us about your company – send an email to Ted ([email protected]).

  • Nothing AG (Switzerland)
  • IT department, DTU (Denmark)
  • Effinger (Switzerland)
  • Coworking Lounge Tessinerplatz (Switzerland)
  • subject:resoul (Germany)
  • West Brabandt Homecare
  • BioEnspiral (Brazil)
  • 1STi (Brazil)
  • Sociocracy For All (global)
  • Codento (Finland)
  • Social Care Network (UK)
  • MedLife (Chile)
  • meci-group (global)
  • Bright AssetBank (UK)
  • 10pines (Argentina)
  • Voxel (Spain)
  • Titansoft (Singapore)
“Sociocracy for us has delivered far beyond organization dynamics and team performance.

By giving people a voice, we are progressing to a new level of consciousness, ethics, and strategic awareness, activating collective intelligence, leadership development, and wholeness of presence in our company.”

Igor Couto

CTO , 1STi

Why sociocracy?

More and more workplaces are realizing that decentralized governance is a more resilient, motivating and effective way of making decisions.

  • Open minds: hearing everyone the first time makes sure that people’s expertise is wanted – employees know a lot about how their work can be improved.
  • Psychological safety: a meeting culture where it’s ok to share ideas, ok to care about something, and ok to make mistakes. Learning and making things happen go hand in hand.
  • Nimble organizations: putting decisions closer to where the action is makes decisions faster and more realistic.

Can we just do some pieces, or is this a package?

You can use individual pieces from sociocracy as you see fit.

Sociocracy is completely tailorable and is not owned or trademarked. You use what you want, and you learn from your experiences. (More on this topic.)

That said – you also decide how much time you want to invest in tweaking it. From our experience, starting out with a standard package saves some time and headaches.

Is sociocracy hard to do?

Many workplaces have shifted to more decentralized, role-based governance methods. Depending on how your culture is set now, there is definitely a learning curve. However, that learning is often experienced as liberating and clarifying.

We have noticed that sociocracy is easiest to implement in a young organization. Yet, even established organizations can switch and enjoy smooth, action-oriented and connecting governance if they are serious about a trust-based, blame-free governance system.

Where do we start?

Read and watch the information on this site. If you are interested in suggesting at your workplace, make sure to read The Sociocracy Starter Kit first. You will notice that it suggests involving other people in your exploration as early as possible. Having seen dozens of organizations in this situation, we really mean it!
“Sociocracy gives us the perfect balance between clear structure with effective tools, and a human-centered, relations-oriented organizational form that can be implemented gradually at our own pace.”
Egon Loke

IT department of the Technical University Denmark

Featured Resources for Workplaces

There is no hierarchy in sociocracy, right?

How can sociocracy, which served as the basis for holacracy, involve hierarchy? Wasn’t the promise that all would be different, more shiny and even more effective without bosses?

(Read article)

3 tools from sociocracy to use right away (plus magic phrases!)

Many organizations are intrigued by the idea of self-governance using circle-based frameworks. However, it can be intimidating to implement those methods. (…) Is there an easier way?

(Read more)

Keeping meetings short

Long meetings are a pain. Let’s make them shorter. Here are the tools that sociocracy has to offer.

(Read article)

Sociocracy Starter Kit

An article describing the phases of introducing sociocracy in an organization.

Read article

Common pitfalls for implementations

What could possibly go wrong if you turn the power structure upside down?!

Read article

Sociocracy Handbook

Written by the co-founders of Sociocracy For All. 300 pages.

More information and purchase options

Learning and Implementation

Sample governance agreement

A document that lays out a governance agreement (placeholder, needs to be tweaked!)

See document

Meeting posters

Having a visual makes every meeting easier to follow.
Use them in your meeting room, or laminate and bring along?

See posters (PDF)

Talk to a real human!

Individual coaching with implementation teams for individuals. Benefit from the experience from many other journeys similar to yours!

Learn more

All SoFA Resources on Sociocracy in Workplaces

Leadership in sociocracy

Leadership in sociocracy

What is leadership when it’s not command-and-control? Why are there leaders in sociocratic circles, and what do they do? How can I be a good sociocratic leader? A presentation by Ted Rau.

How could Sociocracy help us reinvent our world in a context of complexity?

How could Sociocracy help us reinvent our world in a context of complexity?

Never had there been so much complexity in our world, even before Corona. Running organisations was proving increasingly difficult due to the complexity they were operating under. Partly this was because the methods we were using were never designed to run organisations in complexity. Leadership in complexity requires a completely different set of tools from conventional leadership. VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) also demands a completely different mindset.

VoxelGroup: Sociocracia en un “Great Place to Work®“ (Adrián Perreau)

VoxelGroup: Sociocracia en un “Great Place to Work®“ (Adrián Perreau)

Adrián Perreau. Voxel Group es una empresa tecnológica del sector turístico que nace en 2001 y que ha crecido orgánicamente desde entonces. En 2017 había llegado a superar los 150 empleados y se encontraba con dificultades. Voxel quería mantener el ritmo de crecimiento y no sabía cómo estructurarse. Mandó a varios directivos a hacer un MBA, pero los modelos clásicos de gestión no acababan de encajar con su cultura. Ellos querían seguir siendo como la start-up de antaño.

Hierarchy, power and sociocracy

A presentation by Kristina Čelke. Description: As H. Froyd said: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” In this presentation, I talk about how sociocracy and coaching skills can create bigger value for organisations and teams and that they could/would be able work with ease. Also I am representing the Revive model, as a diagnostic tool in order to diagnose organisation in more holistic approach.

Sociocracy and Holacracy through a human organization lens

Presentation by Emanuele Quintarelli. Description: Sociocracy and Holacracy, so similar and so different! Is there any lesson Sociocracy may learn from Holacracy? How can we look at both of them to be more intentional in organization design?

Coaching skills and sociocracy in our business

Presentation by Kristina Čelke. Description: As H. Froyd said: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” In this presentation I will talk about how sociocracy and coaching skills can create bigger value for organisations and teams and that they could/would be able work with ease. Also I am going to represent Revive model, as a diagnostic tool in order to diagnose organisation in more holistic approach.

Case study: 10pines

Case study: 10pines

10Pines is a 10-year-old software development company headquartered in Argentina with agile manifesto values and a peculiar way of working at its roots. With 85 employees, 10pines has more than $3M in sales and it serves both startups and large clients such as Starbucks, Burger King, Turner, Claro, Teespring in North and South America. Due to its culture and rituals, employees at 10pines are happy and turnover is less than 5%, compared to a 25-30% average value in the industry.

Codento

Codento

Codento is a Finnish consultancy company based on sustainable software development where customer satisfaction is the most important, even if that means to recommend other companies to potential clients. They grow up together with customers helping those on achieving their goals and expectations. 

Working with Flow: Sociocracy in the Funeral Industry

Presentation by Gina Price and Kevin Hartley. Earth Funerals is a brand, a trading model and a blueprint for sustainable practice in the end-of-life sector. The ambitious mission of establishing a national network of natural burial grounds across Australia called for a governance and planning system capable of meeting the demands of a complex, dynamic project. In an industry where ‘failure is not an option’, sociocratic workflow design is being embraced to ensure the delivery of professional, innovative funeral services, and products.

Applying sociocracy in my small business

A small mail-order business in the natural health field. I was amazed at how much value the process brought into so many areas of the business as we gave each one its particular focus, and many valuable new initiatives were instigated as a result.

The day I consented to a proposal I hated

The day I consented to a proposal I hated

It was yet another Thursday morning 7.30am – our weekly support circle meeting in Sociocracy For All with 3 staff people present. We were all stretched thin. The last few months had been a phase of wild growth, and although exciting and wonderful, the constantly evolving roles and processes had been wearing on us.

Is sociocracy ‘teal’?

Many of us have been and continue to be inspired by Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux. While there is reference to Holacracy in Reinventing Organizations, there is not much direct reference to sociocracy. So, where does sociocracy fit in?

Common pitfalls for implementation of sociocracy

Common pitfalls for implementation of sociocracy

A change in governance or an organization can be compared to open-heart surgery. Just like heart surgery is invasive for a human organism, so is a change in governance. Recognizing that is key to understanding pitfalls in implementing sociocracy.

Skills for a VUCA world

SoFA member Laureen Golden on skills that are needed in a VUCA world (VUCA: volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity).

Sociocracy and the brain

When, and why is learning fun? How can we create a meeting where everyone is addicted to learning together?

BOSSAnova

Jutta Eckstein and John Buck presenting their BOSSAnova framework: a combination of agile, beyond budgeting, sociocracy, Open Space.

Overcoming hierarchy

Presentation and conversation with Gregg Kendrick, a consultant working with non-violent communication and sociocracy in workplaces.