Back to the Portal of the Global Community|
Back to the Global Proceedings
Back to Global Files
Earth Community Organization (ECO)
the Global Community
Sociocratic Centre of Australia
for Discussion Roundtables 1, 4, 25, 26, 28, 29, 35, and 40
Table of Contents|
A solution to the democratic deficit:
the Sociocratic Method of Decision Making
by Marielle Jansen
If you have wondered how democracy can overcome its flaw of the inherent "dictatorship of the majority", which can even be the narrowest majority of just 50.001%, please consider the Sociocratic Method of Decision Making.
This method was developed by professor Gerard Endenburg of Maastricht University, the Netherlands. Endenburg, who is also an electrical engineer has applied his knowledge from the field of cybernetics to the social sphere and in his own business, Endenburg Electrotechniek in Rotterdam. He also applied the basic idea of the Quakers’ decision making model: draw the information required for decision making from the wisdom of the whole group, not just from the leader(s). He became familiar with the latter in his school years, through the method that his teacher, Kees Boeke, and his English wife, Beatrice Cadbury, had developed for reaching a high level of communication between teachers, pupils and their parents.
Endenburg thus created an open method for organizations to be led on the basis of equivalence in decision making.
The continuous stream of requests for information about the method led to the foundation of the Sociocratic Centre of the Netherlands. Sociocracy is now used in organisations in a number of other countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, the USA and Switzerland.
The value of the sociocratic method has been recognised by the Dutch government through a knighthood for Endenburg and also through the fact that organisations that work with the method are exempt from installing a works-council (which is obligatory in the Netherlands for businesses employing more than 50 people). The method also prepares an organisation for ISO certification.
The sociocratic method can be summarized in four ground rules:
- The principle of consent governs decision making;
- The organisation is built up of departments / functional groups of a maximum of 25 people, who have a common aim;
- The groups are connected through a double link, in such a way that both the leader and at least one chosen representative from the group take part in decision making on the next higher level (to ensure both top-down and bottom-up communication);
- Allocation of tasks and functions takes place through sociocratic elections, which means (among others): application of the principle of consent to the election process. This means: open discussion within the group about the skills and knowledge of the proposed candidate.
It is a great honour for me to be invited to introduce myself to the members of the Earth Community Organization (ECO). Since the mid eighties I have been involved in NGO’s that deal with issues of global governance, so I was quite surprised to find out about the ECO only one month ago, when a friend passed the previous newsletter on to me. What struck me as its most important feature was the expression of compliance with the Divine Will.
I have been involved in the work of World Goodwill since the early seventies. It is mainly through their publications and esoteric schooling that I experienced the spiritual growth that helped me become aware of what being a world citizen really means. World Goodwill has always supported the United Nations as the only organization we have at the moment to deal with issues on a global scale. Despite feelings of pain and disappointment about the apparent failures of the UN in dealing with important global issues, I was prepared to do whatever I could to contribute to the work of the UN.
My first question, after learning about the existence of ECO was: "Why aren’t these people willing to co-operate (e.g. with the UN), and: "Why must they form a different organization?" After studying the ECO web-site, however, this question had vanished and I knew why. Spirituality was the key. Of course there had to be a new organization, if spirituality was going to have its place! No money, but great results! That is why I wrote an email to Germain Dufour, telling him about the Sociocratic Method of Decision-Making as a tool for communication and co-operation. He is one of the very few people who recognized its potential for organization building immediately.
"When communities, nations, or international bodies make decisions affecting sustainable development, there are many voices to be heard" (Barsky, Diepeveen, Wilson and Hanna).
Sociocracy is a tool to make sure this will happen!
I would like to tell you how my involvement with sociocracy started and give a little bit of background information for you to get a general idea about the method.
I worked as a volunteer for different NGO’s, dealing with issues such as refugees, development aid, education, and global governance. One of these contacts led me to the work of Pieter Kooistra, who conceived a plan for a basic income on a global scale. He introduced me to the sociocratic method, as he found that it was indispensable for his plan. The founder of the sociocratic method, Gerard Endenburg, derived his ideas from the educational method of his schoolteacher, who was inspired by the Quakers’ practice of involving all of the members of a group in important decisions. Endenburg developed these ideas further and applied them to his own business. From the fact that sociocracy started in a school environment, it is evident that the method is also suitable to involve school children in matters of decision-making. Sociocracy is sometimes referred to as "the next step in evolution after democracy". Its implementation, however, does not require abolishment of democracy, which makes sociocracy a suitable method for a gradual changeover to more refined patterns of participation. It is a fractal structure that offers a logical and uncomplicated way of reaching unity in diversity in organizations of any kind and any scale.
The four ground rules are as follows:
- The principle of consent ("no argued objection") governs decision making;
- The organisation is built up of "circles", (departments / functional groups) of a maximum of 25 people, who have a common aim and guide their own circle process of: leading, doing and measuring and who maintain their own memory system through integral schooling / permanent education);
- The circles are connected through a double link, in such a way that both the leader and at least one chosen representative from the circle take part in decision making on the next higher level (to ensure both top-down and bottom-up communication);
- Allocation of tasks and functions takes place through sociocratic elections, which involves application of the principle of consent to the election process. This means: open discussion within the group about the skills and knowledge of the proposed candidates.
I hope to explain these ground rules in more detail at a later occasion.
Sociocracy in world scale governance has been worked out in theory. I do hope that the ECO will take up the challenge of trying sociocracy in the practice of world scale governance, so that the imperfections of the democratic process will be ironed out and the ECO will guide democracy in its next evolutionary step.
These days I am spending all my free time on the Global Community’s web-site, reading up on the papers that have been presented and the transcripts of the round table discussions. I feel so much more optimistic now about the future for humanity and I feel grateful for all the hard work that has been done so far. I am also hoping to take part in what remains to be done. From the contributions that were published on the web-site it is obvious that here, finally, a community is forming of people who are not only highly intelligent, but who have opened their hearts to their fellow men and all the other creatures, great and small. This mode of working with "heart, head and hands" is what really appeals to me.
I am currently involved in a group that is looking into new ways of work and employment and we also study the requirements for integrity development. We have adopted the Earth Charter as a guiding principle. I do hope that one day the fruits of our labours will be part of the "collective wisdom" of the ECO.
Send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with
questions or comments about this web site.