Sociocracy at Work

“Working in a sociocratic organisation is like playing in a band where everyone is master of their instrument but we’re playing as one, without a rigid structure that determines the way the different instruments sound together.

Within this, our circle and role structure is like the sheet music: you need it to understand how the music works (especially at the beginning!) but at the end of the day, it’s not what makes the music – what makes the music is what individuals do with it.”

Lara Portmann

Nothing AG (Switzerland)

Key Concepts of Sociocracy

Sociocracy focuses on organizational self-governance:

  • consent as a pragmatic and inclusive decision-making method, and
  • organizational structure with small empowered teams,
  • a built-in practice to evolve and learn continuously.

Sociocracy and Other Frameworks

We consider sociocracy one of the frameworks in this mix of frameworks designed to make systems that determine our lives more human and holistic.
Sociocracy is often combined with agile, compassionate and integral frameworks.

Top-down implementations of sociocracy are possible but not typical. More often, it is a team effort of changer-makers in the organization re-designing its governance system from within. Purpose-driven organizations will find the best fit in sociocracy.

Who is Already Doing it?

This list is FAR from complete. Many learn about sociocracy and we might never hear about it.
Help us by telling us about your company – send an email to Ted (ted@sociocracyforall.org).
  • Nothing AG (Switzerland)
  • IT department, DTU (Denmark)
  • Effinger (Switzerland)
  • Coworking Lounge Tessinerplatz (Switzerland)
  • subject:resoul (Germany)
  • West Brabandt Homecare
  • BioEnspiral (Brazil)
  • 1STi (Brazil)
  • Sociocracy For All (global)
  • Codento (Finland)
  • Social Care Network (UK)
  • MedLife (Chile)
  • meci-group (global)
  • Bright AssetBank (UK)
  • 10pines (Argentina)

“Sociocracy for us has delivered far beyond organization dynamics and team performance.

By giving people a voice, we are progressing to a new level of consciousness, ethics, and strategic awareness, activating collective intelligence, leadership development, and wholeness of presence in our company.”

Igor Couto

CTO , 1STi

Why sociocracy?

More and more workplaces are realizing that decentralized governance is a more resilient, motivating and effective way of making decisions.

  • Open minds: hearing everyone the first time makes sure that people’s expertise is wanted – employees know a lot about how their work can be improved.
  • Psychological safety: a meeting culture where it’s ok to share ideas, ok to care about something, and ok to make mistakes. Learning and making things happen go hand in hand.
  • Nimble organizations: putting decisions closer to where the action is makes decisions faster and more realistic.

Can we just do some pieces, or is this a package?

You can use individual pieces from sociocracy as you see fit.

Sociocracy is completely tailorable and is not owned or trademarked. You use what you want, and you learn from your experiences. (More on this topic.)

That said – you also decide how much time you want to invest in tweaking it. From our experience, starting out with a standard package saves some time and headaches.

Is sociocracy hard to do?

Many workplaces have shifted to more decentralized, role-based governance methods. Depending on how your culture is set now, there is definitely a learning curve. However, that learning is often experienced as liberating and clarifying.

We have noticed that sociocracy is easiest to implement in a young organization. Yet, even established organizations can switch and enjoy smooth, action-oriented and connecting governance if they are serious about a trust-based, blame-free governance system.

Where do we start?

Read and watch the information on this site. If you are interested in suggesting at your workplace, make sure to read The Sociocracy Starter Kit first. You will notice that it suggests involving other people in your exploration as early as possible. Having seen dozens of organizations in this situation, we really mean it!

“Sociocracy gives us the perfect balance between clear structure with effective tools, and a human-centered, relations-oriented organizational form that can be implemented gradually at our own pace.”
Egon Loke

IT department of the Technical University Denmark

Featured Resources for Workplaces

There is no hierarchy in sociocracy, right?

How can sociocracy, which served as the basis for holacracy, involve hierarchy? Wasn’t the promise that all would be different, more shiny and even more effective without bosses?

(Read article)

3 tools from sociocracy to use right away (plus magic phrases!)

Many organizations are intrigued by the idea of self-governance using circle-based frameworks. However, it can be intimidating to implement those methods. (…) Is there an easier way?

(Read more)

Keeping meetings short

Long meetings are a pain. Let’s make them shorter. Here are the tools that sociocracy has to offer.

(Read article)

Sociocracy Starter Kit

An article describing the phases of introducing sociocracy in an organization.

Read article

Common pitfalls for implementations

What could possibly go wrong if you turn the power structure upside down?!

Read article

Sociocracy Handbook

Written by the co-founders of Sociocracy For All. 300 pages.

More information and purchase options

Learning and Implementation

Sample governance agreement

A document that lays out a governance agreement (placeholder, needs to be tweaked!)

See document

Meeting posters

Having a visual makes every meeting easier to follow.
Use them in your meeting room, or laminate and bring along?

See posters (PDF)

Talk to a real human!

Individual coaching with implementation teams for individuals. Benefit from the experience from many other journeys similar to yours!

Learn more

All SoFA Resources on Sociocracy in Workplaces

The day I consented to a proposal I hated

The day I consented to a proposal I hated

It was yet another Thursday morning 7.30am – our weekly support circle meeting in Sociocracy For All with 3 staff people present. We were all stretched thin. The last few months had been a phase of wild growth, and although exciting and wonderful, the constantly evolving roles and processes had been wearing on us.

Is sociocracy ‘teal’?

Many of us have been and continue to be inspired by Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux. While there is reference to Holacracy in Reinventing Organizations, there is not much direct reference to sociocracy. So, where does sociocracy fit in?

Common pitfalls for implementation of sociocracy

Common pitfalls for implementation of sociocracy

A change in governance or an organization can be compared to open-heart surgery. Just like heart surgery is invasive for a human organism, so is a change in governance. Recognizing that is key to understanding pitfalls in implementing sociocracy.

Skills for a VUCA world

SoFA member Laureen Golden on skills that are needed in a VUCA world (VUCA: volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity).

Sociocracy and the brain

When, and why is learning fun? How can we create a meeting where everyone is addicted to learning together?

BOSSAnova

Jutta Eckstein and John Buck presenting their BOSSAnova framework: a combination of agile, beyond budgeting, sociocracy, Open Space.

Overcoming hierarchy

Presentation and conversation with Gregg Kendrick, a consultant working with non-violent communication and sociocracy in workplaces.

Blue Scorcher Bakery

We seek out small producers and bring you their heirloom varieties of everything from apples to beans to tomatoes. Being a cooperative means that stewardship of the business is spread out among the workers.

10Pines

10Pines is an Argentine Software company founded with the Agile manifesto values in mind. It is an open, participative, self-organised and trust-based company.

Codento

Codento is a change agent’s right hand helping with software development, IT Architectures and Agile Methodologies. 

Nothing AG

We are a digital design company (for-profit) based in Switzerland. Our overall purpose is simple: we want to create products which matter.

Mediagenix

MEDIAGENIX has chosen to implement their version of sociocracy (more precise S3) based principles and patterns.

Europace

Our mission is to make financing understandable and accessible for everyone. We make products comparable and the process comprehensibly, so that customer can make the right decision: anytime and with trust and confidence.

Imago relationships

Imago Relationships Worldwide is a network of Imago Relationships professionals and supporters in 17 countries, with the founders and majority of members in North America.

Denmark Technical University DTU

IT department of 45 people, embedded in a typical hierarchical IT organization of 190 employees, delivering IT-services and software development to the Universities 6000 employees and 12000 students.

Sociocracy: The Movement

Sociocracy: The Movement

Curious about one of the roots of Holacracy? This overview of past and current also conveys the values and emotional flavor of this distributed-decision-making systems

There is no hierarchy in sociocracy… right?

There is no hierarchy in sociocracy… right?

“Is there hierarchy in sociocracy?” is a fairly common question. And since people expect me to say no, I always say yes. Why? Because that’s the best way to get into a real conversation. Because the real answer needs to be given in a conversation, not in a quick...