30 Jun 2012
26 Jun 2012
26 Jun 2012

Sociocracy: Good Governance

The following is an excerpt from the book, We the people: Consenting to a deeper democracy by John Buck and Sharon Villines

Creating More Perfect Organizations

One of the struggles in building effective organizations whether they are associations, businesses, or governments is finding an effective decision-making method. In democratic organizations, majority vote is the accepted standard. Majority rule, however, automatically creates a minority. This encourages factions and divisiveness rather than harmony. Majority rule encourages people to build strategic alliances and to trade favors rather than to think in terms of the best direction for the organization.

In business, decisions are generally made autocratically by the owner or manager or by a Board on behalf of investors. This can lead to poor decisions because those who execute them may not be free to express their views and critical information is thus not available in the decision-making process. As in majority vote, those who are not included in the decision making may also feel less comitted and thus will not enthusiastically support the organization. Autocratic decision-making also does not encourage leadership.

Sociocracy was developed to correct the deficiencies in both these methods. Sociocratic businesses and organizations set policy by consent and use a governance structure in which each person in the organization is appropriately engaged in making and evaluating the policies that affect their domain of responsibility. Working in self-organizing, semi-autonomous circles, they decide how they will meet the aims of their organization most effectively. This creates more effective, productive, and harmonious organizations — both businesses and associations.

1. Consent governs policy decision-making. Consent means there are no argued and paramount objections to a proposed decision.

2. Circles are the primary governance unit. Circles are semi-autonomous and self-organizing. Within their domain, they make policy decisions; set aims; delegate the functions of leading, doing, and measuring to their own members; and maintain their own memory system and program of ongoing development.

3. Circles are connected by a double-link consisting of the functional leader elected by the next higher circle, and two or more representatives elected by the circle, all of whom participate fully in both circles.

4. People are elected to functions and tasks by consent after open discussion.

Not all decisions in a sociocratic organization must be made by consent. The group can decide by consent to use majority vote for some decisions (when to hold the next meeting) or autocratic decisions for others (letting the shop supervisor assign daily tasks). But everyone must consent before another decision-making method is used and everyone must consent to the policies that determine the parameters for such decisions (who must be included in meetings and how daily tasks are defined).

Self-Organization and Governance

“To govern” means to steer. Everyone wants an organization with lots of energy but an energetic organization needs good steering so its energy is directed and not dissipated. The analogy used to describe how to design and manage a sociocratic organization is to “steer chaos.” To steer, not stifle, energy.Most of us think of chaos as a negative state, but chaos is a very powerful and energetic condition, not to be confused with random or purposeless activity. In chaos, each element is full of energy and freely pursuing its aim without restraint. Free, uninhibited energy creates good conditions for self-organization. In a sociocratic organization, each person and each cluster of persons is encouraged, even required, to self organize and to steer their energy toward their shared aims as energetically as possible. By establishing shared aims, and steering everyone toward them, the sociocratic structure uses all the available energy to move forward quickly and efficiently.

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19 Jun 2012
19 Jun 2012
13 Jun 2012
13 Jun 2012
13 Jun 2012
12 Jun 2012

Beauitful from First Principles

What impresses us the most about some developers is the combination of power and beauty some can bring to our kitchen table. The Apple Design awards announced yesterday highlighted some great examples of this. Check out the our staff favorites. These are truly a labour of love and sweat, and the best part is they’re free… okay two are free one is ten bucks.

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11 Jun 2012

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