marker Publication Date: 2020-03-10
Sociocracy, in its modern form, is an organizational governance method developed by a Dutch entrepreneur in 1945 as a way to combine social harmony and productivity in an organisation, based on collective intelligence.
This method is based on the principles of:
  • transparency in the decision-making process as all decisions are made known to everyone in the organisation
  • equivalency as all voices and concerns of the organisation members get equal consideration
  • effectiveness, as this system aims at producing higher levels of creativity and greater commitment from all parts which results in an increased productivity of the group.

Sociocracy differs from democracy as it tends to produce a group harmony when democracy produces dissensions and conflicts (as the majority can ignore the minorities). It has been successfully adopted by hundreds of companies and organisations in the world and is also implemented in several ecovillages for their decision-making process.

The sociocracy method is based on four essential principles:
  • decision-making by consent
  • circle organization
  • double-linking
  • elections without candidate

Decision-making by consent

Decisions by consent are made when each member has no argued and paramount objections to a proposed policy. Objections must be reasoned and explained: it has to be a valid reason why a particular decision will prevent a member of the group from doing his job and fulfilling the goals of the organization.
Objections should be seen as positive information which allows the group to improve the proposal and permit that the group responsibilities can be fulfilled more effectively.

Circle organisation

A sociocratic organization is governed by "circles" of members which are semi-autonomous working groups. Each circle has its own goals and drives its own work with the responsibility of executing, measuring and controlling its own processes. Performing these 3 functions enables the circle to be self-regulating and self-correcting.
All the members present in a circle are equivalent in term of responsibility and have the power to consent or give objection to proposed actions.

Double linking

To ensure that all the operative circles can communicate together, every circle will designate a delegate and a leader. The leaders and delegates of all the circles will form the "general circle". feedback travels across the organisation, all up and down and across the organization, circles are arranged in a hierarchy of overlapping circles.
The leader will be responsible for bringing the information down to his circle, by communicating the decisions and needs of the organization to the circle.
The delegate will make sure that his circle's decisions and feedbacks are heard in the general circle.

Sociocratic organisation
Sociocratic organisation

Elections without candidate

The last principle of sociocracy is that all members are elected to roles and responsibilities by consent and without candidate. Indeed, the members of the group will first define and discuss the task description. Based on that description, all members of the circle will nominate a member of the circle and will present the reasons of their choice. After discussion and possible change of the nominations, the person for whom there are the more arguments will be proposed and objections can be raised. When all objections are solved, the nominated person is elected.
This process ensures that the team selects the person that the group believes is the best for the role. It also gives legitimacy to the selected person to perform his role. The task description ensures that the person elected understands the group's expectations.