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Transforming Humans and Organizations Through Sociocratic Circles

What if organizations could be places for healing not just for doing?

A conversation with Ted Rau.

Governance as a concept by itself may not seem too sexy a subject to many, but when you dig into new forms of governance that take into account theory and practice integrating the work to be done, the humans - as doers and beings - and the passion, it makes for a “super-powerful, beautifully brilliant tool,” in the words of Ted Rau, the author of three books and reference manuals for sociocratic facilitators. 

Rau points to sociocracy as a self-organized system that connects the work, the humans and the passion in one organization, giving voice to all. It is a consent-driven method. Many organizations that try consensus have ultimately ended up as they experiment. As Rau acknowledges, having 150 people in a group responsible for a unanimous decision - consensus - can be “insanity,” or chaotic at best. Sociocracy also pulls people into circles and fractal into sub circles for decision making at all stages of an organization to empower the humans and inform the decisions. 

In many instances, organizations are cross pollinating to institute presencing, integrating Theory U - the being mode, and sociocracy - the doing mode, and this question of dualism is the current theme of Ted’s research as well as the subject of his next book.  In this episode, Ted highlights the role of self-sovereignty and personal responsibility in sociocracy and how it can empower individuals to make meaningful contributions, as well as scaling governance systems with sustained respect for balancing individual agency with collective responsibility.

In these sociocratic circles, the question becomes how does the group find balance between both what people know and what they are used to? There is an assigned approach, and then the humans enter the circle, which is both challenging and beautiful. Sociocracy attempts to equalize the voices by holding discussions in rounds, rather than going back and forth between just a few people, which can be polarizing. Through rounds, Ted examines how to disperse the energy between human beings and hold it collectively as issues are discussed and resolved.

Source: Sociocracy for All

Listen to the whole episode to experience a deeper dive into how to integrate the human doing and being, how these spaces can become healing places, and how the successes can be mimicked in other environments.

About Ted Rau

Ted is the Program Director at Sociocracy For All, leading advanced program for trainers, consultants, and practitioners who want to implement sociocratic self-management in their organizations and communities. He turns his passions into support for collaborative systems that foster willingness, dignity, and interdependence among people and with their environment. He says that governance is part of a transformation that helps us be better humans.

He has written 3 books, with the latest titled Collective Power: Patterns for a Self-organized Future, and a series of guides for facilitating sociocratic circles. Ted He also serves as a board member of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, a global organization that promotes compassionate communication and conflict resolution.

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Kimberly Marsh



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