We use sociocracy to help us collaborate in a non-hierarchical way.
The goal of sociocracy is to optimise organisation efficiency, while ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard. One crucial aspect of this is that decisions are made by consent, not consensus.
One crucial aspect of sociocracy is that decisions are made by consent, not consensus. We use this method of making decisions almost on a daily basis. Any member can propose something to the rest of the group. Other members can ask for clarifications or amendments to the proposal. From there, they can decide to either give their consent or block the proposal. The criteria for consenting to a proposal is that it’s “good enough for now and safe enough to try”.
This method recognises that most decisions aren’t permanent, and optimises for efficiency and iteration over consensus. It is about trusting the people you work with to make decisions that impact the collective as a whole. It removes the expectation that everyone must be deeply involved in, and supportive of, every decision that needs to be made. Although an individual member may give up a little of their personal agency, overall it increases the collective’s ability to act, learn and grow rapidly.
It also encourages each member to take ownership of a proposal and then follow through with it. Moving from a freeform discussion towards a concrete proposal requires one to formulate an idea in a clear and structured way. Responding to clarifications often highlights aspects of a proposal that might have gone unnoticed by just one person. The end result of this process is usually clarity around what needs to be done next and who is responsible for it.
Our regular meetings are good opportunities for syncronous proposal discussions. Sometimes we will make smaller decisions during meetings and then note them in the minutes, elsewhere in Notion, or on Twist for posterity and for absent members.
We try to discuss and log more formal decisions on Twist.
Aside from decision-making, sociocracy offers a framework for facilitating meetings. We've written a little about a few of these methods in these previous posts:
As well as starting with a check-in, we try to always end meetings with a check-out. This provides space for everyone to say how they're feeling as a result of the meeting, reflect on how it was run and identify how to improve the process in future. In our experience, these cycles of evaluation and iteration enable us to continuously improve how we collaborate.
Sociocracy for All has some more practical tips on how to facilitate meetings.