Governance

Sociocracy

Sociocracy

 

Agile Boston uses Sociocracy for defining leadership relationships, roles, and related interactions.  Sociocracy is a governance structure that emphasizes relationships. The assumption is that respectful interactions lead to better decisions that lead to results aligned with a common goal.  A Sociocratic organization is composed of a hierarchy of semi-autonomous circles corresponding to units or departments of an organization.  Each circle governs a specific domain of responsibility within the policies of the larger organization and has the responsibility to execute, measure, and control its own processes in achieving its goals.  Each circle has an operational leader that by definition is a member of the next higher circle and represents the larger organization in the decision-making of the circle they lead, and elects a representative to represent the circles' interests in the next higher circle. These links form a feedback loop up and down the organization that can't be ignored.

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Decisions and Policy

All policy decisions require the consent of all members of a circle. Day-to-day operational decisions are made by the operations leader within the policies established in circle meetings. Policy decisions affecting more than one circle's domain are made by a higher circle formed by representatives from each circle. This structure of linked circles that make decisions by consent maintains the efficiency of a hierarchy while preserving the equivalence of the circles and their members. Individuals are elected to roles and responsibilities in open discussion using the same consent criteria used for other policy decisions

Decisions are made when there are no remaining "paramount objections", that is, when there is informed consent from all participants. Sociocracy makes a distinction between "consent" and "consensus" in order to emphasize that circle decisions are not expected to produce "a consensus". In Sociocracy consent is defined as "no objections," and objections are based on one's ability to work toward the aims of the organization.

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To learn more about a canonical Sociocracy structure, see the book WE THE PEOPLE: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy, written by John Buck and Sharon Villines.