The Holi Story

One thing Sociocracy seems to do is make you realize your own fallibility. Circle meetings and the Consent Decision Making Process very quickly surface your blindspots and the limitations of your perspective, usually bringing about interesting changes in the people involved (like an appreciation for multiple and diverse perspectives).

At one of the introductory Sociocracy workshops we conducted for traditional school administrators, principals, department heads and teachers, there was a Circle Meeting where such an interesting change took place by surfacing things that weren’t accounted for by simply giving everyone a voice.

Before we start the story, I need to give you a little context about the playful Holi festival that is celebrated in India.

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Peeling the onion: A Sociocratic way of dealing with a problem

In most organizations problems are treated as something bad and it must be avoided or solved ASAP.

Sometimes the psychology of solving the problems does not help to go to the root of the problem. The problem you see in the organisation is the tip of the iceberg. There is a big hidden aspects of the problem, which if not skillfully taken out and solved, it will then just change its shape/form and will continue to stay in the organisation. We are eager to solve problems before we truly understand their depth. It is important to peel away the layers in order to address the deeper issues that lie underneath the surface. Like an onion has many layers that cover its core, problems in your organization are also hidden. You will find them under layers of assumptions, ignorance, neglect, lack of skills, bad training, etc. To get to the root cause of these problems, those undesirable layers need to be peeled away, one-by-one.

In Sociocracy, problems/objections/tensions are not treated as bad instead they are welcomed as a gift which needs to be unwrapped.

Once a problem is experienced in a Sociocratic organisation, it is held with care and everyone tries to skillfully navigate through it while focusing on the root cause of it. First it is brought up in a meeting to everyone’s attention (The principal here is transparency). And then the problem is unwrapped and all the dimensions of it are brought up on the table. And towards the end everyone gets the platform to offer the solution (The principal here is equivalence). Final decision is made with everyone’s consent, keeping in mind that the final decision is the specific, measurable, time bound and reviewable (The principal here is effectiveness).

Let me tell you a story of how a problem in a guesthouse was solved using the principles of Sociocracy…

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Bringing Equivalence at a Permaculture Farm

Sociocracy, also known as dynamic governance, is a system of governance which provides different tools to achieve a collaborative working system based on three principles of transparency, equivalence, and effectiveness.

All the above principles are new age principles which might look simple but it delivers powerful results if applied in organizations. I have been researching and experimenting with all these principles for a while now and trying to apply it at grassroot level organizations. I am in awe of the results of my findings. Let me share with you one of my experiments with Equivalence in a permaculture farm where I was working, in Maharashtra, India. I was brought there by the farm owner to work on their systems. The farm owner was an experienced permaculturist living in another city. She used to visit the farm once a week to oversee the farm work.

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Sociocracy: Governance Structure, Decision Making & Feedback Loops – AgilityToday 2019 [Slides]

I was invited to give an intro to Sociocracy talk at AgilityToday 2019.

Here are the slides from my talk titled: Sociocracy: Governance Structure, Decision Making & Feedback Loops:

There were two Lead-Do-Measure loops during the talk. At the beginning of the talk I asked everyone what they expected from the talk. This was the measure part of the loop for which the submitted proposal was the lead part and people coming to the talk was the do part. Secondly, the talk content (the do part) was sandwiched between an agenda slide (the lead part) and a slide asking for feedback (the measure part).

The slides are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

“Good enough for now” is a better strategy for this VUCA world…

In our Indian culture, we used to ask,” abhi ke liye sahi he?”, “thode din ke liye chal jayega?”…. we must have experienced that how things move fast while we talk in this terms. And essentially it’s about “is it good enough for NOW?” That is really necessary in this time.

Market is becoming VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous). As we are done with preparing solutions for problem “A”, nature of the problem itself may have already changed. Then what are we addressing with our solutions? Is it random/unconscious experimentation? Or designed/conscious experimentation?

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Year 2018 in a glimpse

  • Consent Circle started in Ahmedabad, Gujarat every month. Consent Circle is the space where participants gather and then learn & experience consent based decision making in context of their life/work/business.
  • Sessions with entrepreneurs on “Sociocracy- a modern management approach” at Centre for Entrepreneurship Development, Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Average 1 session per month…
  • Workshop with childrens on “Art of collective thinking” for Dream India Camp, Oasis Movement, Karnali, Chanod, Gujarat
  • Talk on ” Dynamic Governance” at Baroda Management Association, Baroda, Gujarat
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