The Agility Podcast: Episode 2 – Sociocracy

In episode 2 of The Agility Podcast, TC and I talk to John Buck, the first native English-speaking consultant certified to teach and implement the sociocratic organization method in the 1980s. This is a fascinating chat about organizational design and governance methods with some brilliant stories from John’s impressive journey so far.

John is the co-author of two books – We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy: A Handbook for Understanding and Implementing Sociocratic Principles and Practices along with Sharon Villines, and Company-wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space & Sociocracy: Survive & Thrive on Disruption along with Jutta Eckstein.

With this episode, we moved into a territory where we talked about a system of governance that seeks to achieve solutions and creates harmonious social environments as well as productive organizations and businesses. Thus, furthering the cause of attaining much-required business acceleration for products or service development and strengthening their market position and also helping them innovate. 

The idea was to get a general perspective on what sociocracy is and how much it should mean to an organization if they are genuinely interested in it. With highlights to its implementation and the consequences thereof. As we know that every process/model/idea has a basis of operating, so, we asked around the core principals on which sociocracy works, and who we think are the prime candidates where Sociocracy would be successful and where it will fail. 

Then we moved to gain an understanding of Sociocracy’s relationship with respect to Agile and the Agility movement. And in today’s business environment we talk a lot about VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) and we wanted to take John’s perspective on that. 

The idea of scalability is not new to any one of us, especially in the coaching circles. And looking at larger corporations and the scalability issue for any framework — we wanted to know the possibility of applying Sociocracy to larger organizations and then scaling up. Also, understand the issues around transparency.  

Next, we delved deeper into some concepts within Sociocracy and around it such as Double Linking, another buzz word – self-governance and Holacracy. And here John reflects some true insights to these concepts and ideas and takes home the applicability of Sociocracy. 

Overall, we talked a lot about various facets of Sociocracy, its applications, and the methods including some larger concepts, and truly it was truly an amazing learning experience in talking to John. 

Industrialization 4.0 is going to be interesting as the management methods, the understanding and learning are improving with every decade. The customers and employees both are aware and informed – the feedback loops are getting shorter and the need to act on items/action is becoming immediate. Sociocracy and other similar ideas do bring a perspective that is apart from the two theories of X & Y (based on Douglas MacGregor) there might have a few little more theories developed over the past few decades with the changing ways of working. 

Let’s listen to the podcast and see what all we could learn and some more. 

Listen to episode 2 of The Agility Podcast here —