Re: Consider Sociocracy
From: eileen mccourt (emccourtCHARTER.NET)
Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2006 20:40:22 -0700 (PDT)
At Oak Creek Commons, we have agreed to or consented to a decision making
process that includes most of what is being described here as sociocracy,
but it does not seem as complicated (or maybe it is just as complicated, but
we don't have to know about sociocracy to use it).  I think it has embedded
in it the leading, doing, measuring concept, which seems to me to be key to
making and living with decisions.

I think most people at OCC would still say that we make decisions by
consensus.  We have a process for hearing and evaluating objections,
attempting to work through those objections, and deciding whether or not the
objection is valid for the group if the matter cannot be resolved to the
satisfaction of the person(s) objecting.  Our process includes the
development of proposals at the committee level and a series of check ins at
the community level to address and integrate concerns.  We also have a
process for deciding when and under what conditions we should vote in order
to keep moving forward on a project.  For low risk decisions (things that
can easily be changed if the results are objectionable), the process can
result in a decision in a relatively short period.  For more complex, costly
or values driven decisions, the process could take 3-4 business meetings (in
addition to the work of the committee in between).  We have been meeting 2
times a month (except in the summer it's one time a month), so this does not
take as long as it sounds. 

One of the objectives of the board is to move to one meeting a month by the
end of the year.  Something that would need to happen to be able to do this
is to have more clearly defined roles and responsibilities for committees,
so that a greater number of decisions could be made at the committee level.
Each committee does have a budget, and some authority, but their budget is
based on what is known at the time the budget is approved, and it is less
clear what can be done to meet interim and contingent needs that arise
throughout the year.  Some people believe that all of these kinds of
decisions should come back to the community.

We arrived at our process after a series of extremely divisive issues
brought decision making to a standstill and resulted in vituperative
interpersonal conflict.  At a facilitated workshop, the community finally
articulated a strong desire to have an agreed upon decision-making process
with a backup for some type of voting when things reach an impasse.  A
committee worked on a creating a well defined process for 4 months,
continually checking in with the community through discussion circles,
collecting concerns, and working through the concerns, all part of the
process that was being proposed.  The decision making process was agreed to
by all participating community members.

Eileen McCourt
Oak Creek Commons
Paso Robles, CA

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