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.
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…