The term “sociocracy”, which literally means the governance of the “socios”, that is to say the governance of people linked by meaningful relationships, was coined by Auguste Comte . Its main principles come from the work of Kees Boeke , a Dutch educator, then from those of Gerard Endenburg who operationalized them and confronted the facts by implementing them within Endenburg Elektrotechniek, the family business that he was leading.
Sociocracy is a mode of governance and managerial animation particularly suited to Team-Based Organizations whose principles constitute, from my point of view, an increasingly relevant alternative to the traditional hierarchical model (see my posts on the subject by clicking here , here or here ). Sociocracy is based on four main principles. What are they ?
Circles and consent
A circle is a semi-autonomous structure very close to the team concept of the Team-Based Organization. It must be able to define its objectives, implement them and measure its results in order, if necessary, to make adjustments. So far, nothing really new. It is the principle of consent that brings significant added value to the governance and managerial modalities of the Team-Based Organization. What is it about ?
A sociocratic circle establishes its functioning and defines its organization on the basis of the consent of its members. This means that no major decision can be taken if one of its members raises a reasonable objection.
An objection is considered reasonable if it satisfies two criteria: (1) the contemplated decision prevents the person raising the objection from properly performing his or her function; (2) this same person actively participates in the search for an alternative.
Consent has the advantages of consensus, without having its disadvantages. In the consensus, everyone says “yes”. In the consent, no one says “no”.
Operational decisions are not necessarily made by consent. However, the team decides by consent which decisions may escape the rule, how and by whom they are made and for how long it is possible to proceed other than by consent.
The double bond and the election without a candidate
Unlike the pyramids of the traditional hierarchical model, a circle is not connected to the higher rank circle by one person, but by two. One is designated by the upper level circle to represent it within the lower level circle. And another is chosen by the lower level circle to represent it within the upper level circle.
The first person is similar to the manager of the traditional model. The second is more related to the notion of leader who is co-opted by team members to represent them at the higher level.
Finally, the choice and assignment of people to a function within the team is carried out by a voting process without a declared candidate. Each member of the circle suggests the person he considers best suited to the position, then justifies his choice. The absence of a candidate ensures that there is no loser, and the consent that everyone is convinced that the best possible choice has been made.