Sociocracy

These are notes from the Arterra EU Erasmus Plus project (May 2019), by 3 Güneşköy participants, Billur Gödek, Emrah Karaağaç and Işıl Biçer. 

DAY 1

Sociocracy is a system of decision making which is based on consent and feedback loops. It is about finding the best solutions to take the next step with group consent, for good governance.

In sociocracy, correction is always possible. Making mistakes is encouraged rather than trying to be perfect. That leads one of the most important principles of sociocracy, getting feedback. The system should be able to receive feedback from its environment. Another principle of sociocracy is the elements in the system should not control each other. The last principle is the system must benefit from an external source that guides it. Sociocracy works in a circular process. For example, management is the big circle and it has three linked circles and those are linked to other smaller circles. You need to organise management as well as the others. The circular process is based on the triangle steps. This triangle is more about equivalence. The main objectives are leading, doing and measuring by order. In doing process, one needs to do with or without material and by doing you can eventually measure which is the feedback part.

There are 4 essential rules in sociocracy.

  1. The first rule is organising in circles. In organisation to be in safe in a sense that want to live with, not forced into something. It needs space to practice to trust each other. , without feeling the need to defend your opinion. There is a basic test for feeling safe. If community feels safe, there will be objections. If you don’t hear any objection, then there is problem. Objection is also a present that given.
  2. The second rule is consent governs policy, and decision making. In policy changing, meetings do not have to be in a short frequency. Otherwise, you can even get together every morning. Theoretically we want everyone at every meeting, but it is not realistic. That's why smaller groups are important. People can focus on their interest and be a part of it.
  3. The third rule is double linking. In one circle, there will be one facilitator, one secretary and two double links. You choose one link from big circle and you choose one from another circle that is linked. This is a technique for communicating in two different ways. Links are representatives. By sending two representative, you can see a different sides of conflict.
  4. The last rule is election by consent - without candidates. During elections, look for the best person in a group - not the perfect person: someone that I can trust, rather than my opinion/idea. It is not hierarchical. On the top, you can come there with the consent all of them. There were some last different topic discussions. One of them was about the roles. For example, 'facilitator' is a role. A role is different from a person. A role can be held by many people, and a person can hold many roles. Furthermore, people in a sociocratic community are empowered by the circle, and they give power to the circle. Finally, problems in a system should not be taken personally.  Maybe another person needs to try that role; or there may be a problem with the definition of the role. It is not about the person and personality.

DAY 2

On our 2nd day, We went deep into the sociocracy. As it mentioned before, consent is a crucial feature of sociocracy. To explain it more clearly, there need to be no paramount to reasoned objections. All decisions are based on consent. After a proposal, facilitator should try to take all consent. Proposals may not be found as a group. Even one person may propose an idea, the important part is getting the consent of the group.If there is even one no consent, they try to explain all the reasons. So instead asking for consent, asking for objections should be done. Sociocracy is the right place for doing this. The practice of consent conception is beginning in meetings and elections. Basically, the meetings are made of this entries;

DOMESTIC:

  • silence
  • chatting
  • announcements
  • approval of previous meetings
  • approval of agenda
  • agree on next meeting

CONSENT:

  • agenda clarification
  • opinion round
  • opinion round 2
  • proposal
  • consent round(lf no consent, reasons told and then make a new proposal will be made)

First of all, it is important to have a beginning and an end in a meeting. This leads planning the meeting. Sometimes it can be confusing to choose a facilitator, then the group should trust the process and may spin the pen for choosing facilitator. In the consent rounds, first round is more like opinion and second round is more like reaction. If you listen others opinions, it comes together. To make decisions, you should think the detail(when,where,how etc.)  but if you go into deep of the details, it will be analysis paralysis. After the consent rounds, the group try to make a proposal together by the leading of the facilitator. When there is proposal, digging out is essential like asking yourself “what would you add” and “what would you take out” considering the proposal. The facilitator has a big role when making proposal. Being clear, being specific and not adding unnecessary words is crucial when proposing. If the facilitator proposes part by part, it would be better for the consent. The group should always feel safe enough to say “can we go back?”. Always to remember, it is not permanent and feeling safe is crucial. In elections, there won’t be any candidates. Everybody should write the name on their mind with their name on a paper. The crucial part is describing function and describing profile. Facilitator collects papers. In the first round, everybody explains why you proposed that person. In the second round, if someone wants to change their opinion, they change. Based on the result, the facilitator makes proposal based on the reasons. If there is objection for everyone? The facilitator needs to find the best way. After the proposal, there should be a consent round. If not? A new proposal should be done after hearing the reasons for no consent. In the elections, you can nominate yourself as well. And proposed person’s idea should be asked last. We first elect our Link 2 which we’ll see why.  After the elections, the task meeting happened as a last process of the day. In the task meeting, lots of proposal have been made and people take leadership and the responsibility of the task.

DAY 3


In the 3rd of Y-Tools, the workshop focused more on individual. To deal with sociocracy, one should deal with their inner sociocracy. To get to know ourselves, the session started with some questions:

1- what has been significant in my life the last year?

2- what quality is life suggesting me to develop?

3- Formulate your personal/professional challenge in this moment.

The introduction to inner sociocracy has begun with these questions. In inner sociocracy, there is 4 characters that one has. First character is your public character. Who you’re in the society. Second character is your inner private character. Third character is the mediator character. If we say first and second character is the orchestra, third one will be the director. And the last fourth character is inspirational character. It can be called as composer. As we did today, it is good to visualise those characters and making a name that contains the name, quality and the difficulty of the character. We did it with little smurf figures. After choosing the figures, open out of thoughts about the figures to someone is drawing an imaginary frame that makes easier to think about. As the last part, making a simulation of the characters’ facing meeting with several people to role them was an illuminating experience. To improve yourself, your mood and your mind. You have to have a consent of all of the characters of yours and solve the objection of theirs. Differences can be the reason of tension between themselves. The power is also the leadership of the mediator. If no one take leadership, there would be no changes in life.Todays learning was more experimental and in the afternoon session, we went another village called “Lakabe” which is not using sociocratic decision making. They use a system which is called “corolla” and the petals of their decision making flower is consisting of these;

  • Growth
  • Roots
  • Ecoyesours
  • Wellbeing
  • Celebration
  • Territory

 

DAY 4 

In 4th day, we connected the learning outcomes from the 3rd day. Roles of the characters of inner sociocracy express similarities between in the groups. Like in the simulation that happened in the 3rd day of Y-Tools, when the characters face with each other and when you ignore a character of yours actually it is nearly the same in the group and one can say “why did you ignore me?” So it can be said that the relationship between the characters of the inner circle can be named in an another way. 4th character would be vision while 3rd character is the mission and the one guides. 4th character can be matched with top circle while 3rd can be called part and 1st and 2nd Operational task. To make it more easy to visualise, you can relate it with a human body. While the top circle would be the head, coordination would be the body and operation would be the hands and feet of the body. Visions are more like big pictures. You can’t think yourselves in it when it becomes to vision of a community, otherwise that won’t be successful. It’d be good to clear that mission and aim is also different. Mission is more wide while aim is like you have a red point to shoot. Today’s plan was about choosing the 1st link. It may become a confusing subject when you consider some questions like “why are we choosing the 1st link after the 2nd link?” To understand more clearly, the role of the 1st link can be explained as this: 1st Link is the one who taking a part of coordination meeting with 2nd Link,which is representative, to bring info to their little group. To choose 1st link, representatives gathering and deciding link 1, the link 2s are talking about their group, about their observations. Link 2s can suggest people from their group, but the other link 2’s may observe people by themselves and they can nominate a person from that group based on their observations. 2nd links choose 1st link because they are actually choosing the people they want to work with. You choose 2nd link as your representative bc you want someone to represent you as all. It is about a person you’d totally trust their choice and trusting the process. But If there is an objection, you can solve it in your circle and there is still objection then 2nd link can bring this to the big circle to discuss. As the last subject of the day, role evaluation has discussed. Feedback process was crucial as it is discussed in the first days of the project, and role evaluation is actually about giving feedbacks to everyone. It can be done once per year and it can be done for everyone who has a role. The process starts with two questions and continues one by one. First question is “what went well?”. One may talk about the good actions of the evaluated person and may appreciate him/her. After that comment round has finished, the second question will be asked; “ What can be improved?”. After all, the feedback will be collected and the person who evaluated will make a proposal considering the feedback. Eventually, people will get their feedback to improve themselves and their role.