Sociocracy at Work
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.”
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
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?
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@example.com).
- Nothing AG (Switzerland)
- IT department, DTU (Denmark)
- Effinger (Switzerland)
- Coworking Lounge Tessinerplatz (Switzerland)
- subject:resoul (Germany)
- West Brabandt Homecare
- BioEnspiral (Brazil)
- 1STi (Brazil)
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.”
- 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?
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?
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?
Featured Resources for Workplaces
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?
Learning and Implementation
All SoFA Resources on Sociocracy in Workplaces
How does leadership, or hierarchy, go together with sociocracy? Are there bosses in horizontal organizations, and what does that mean?
There are organizations, and in them people, who will never see the value in involving employees in shared governance. There are those who, although they feel the growing discomfort of working ‘in the old way’, remain full of fears and doubts about the incomprehensible concept of self-organization.
Are self-management tools like sociocracy and Holacracy slow and bureaucratic? Or are they fast and agile?
Self-organization - a leap into the unknown ‘What?! Self-organization ?! What is self-organization? We have already practiced socialism in this country and it did not work for us. What are you proposing to us here? ‘ - such a comment was given to me by a colleague...
Domains combine clarity with flexibility, small groups with big picture thinking and alignment, empowerment of groups and individuals with responsibility. It’s a design pattern that we can use indefinitely – with a place for everything and everything in its place.
The primary source of the information in this case study came from a 2021 interview with Byron Shetler, CEO of Hertzler Systems Inc. HERTZLER QUICK FACTS Location: Goshen, IN Size: 17 Employees Field: Manufacturing Data Analytics Origins Since its...
5 Ways you’re already using restorative practices and how to become even more restorative when using sociocracy “Don’t tell anyone else we’ve trained, but this is by far the most restorative school I’ve ever seen.” I was shocked to hear that from the...
Leadership without hierarchy, is that possible? How can leaders empower others and move everyone towards the vision? This article describes healthy leadership in a consent-based system like sociocracy.
Often, our cooperatives are formed as a response or alternative to the destructive power dynamics in the mainstream hyper-capitalist and oppressive systems. However, it often takes some unlearning and new structures to help us create the workspaces that we dream of.
Creating the climate where Sociocratic principles can thrive. 6 months in the life of “Building OUT” – Abi Handley
Building OUT is Outlandish’s programme of services and workshops that can build any team’s Openness, Understanding & Trust (see what we did there?). It’s delivered by practitioners from co-operatives that really use the tools we share in their everyday work.
We are observers and participants of a paradigm shift in management. More and more attention is focused on dynamic governance, which slowly, but inevitably replaces the so-called traditional management, hierarchical in the power-over meaning of the word. Different names are being used to describe organizations operating under the new model.
Discussion between two cultures, discussion between a subsidiary and its owner. This presentation based on a business case will deal with the opportunity for command and control companies to test sociocracy and with potential obstacles and constraints.
John Buck’s presentation at the permaculture and sociocracy online conference 2020.
On what basis do we decide salaries in sociocracy? Is it based on the sum of all roles? But how does that work? Or are there traditional “positions” in sociocracy too?
How does strategy work in sociocracy? How does strategy work in a horizontal or decentralized organization? Read about a combination of bottom-up and top-down approaches that make a strategy aligned and alive.
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.
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.
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.
Presentation by Roberto Bonino. Assessing the soft-skills needed to thrive in a self-managed organization.
A presentation by Jacob Theilgaard. Hierarchy, power and sociocracy will explore the dynamic of power and emergence of informal hierarchies in sociocratic circles through micro behaviours. We will explore the different dimensions of hierarchy and how you can support equilibrium between perspectives and viewpoints with facilitation.
Presentation by John Buck. How do you deal with complexity? Have you heard of probing it to try to make sense? This presentation will talk about how to develop and launch experimental probes.
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?
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.
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 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.
When the Swiss design and development agency Nothing AG spun-off one of their internal products into an independent business called Peerdom, the Peerdom team initially started by replicating their mother company’s implementation of sociocracy.
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.
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.
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.