Sociocracy 3.0…

…is a method for growing effective, agile and resilient organizations of any size, from small start-ups to large international networks and nationwide, multi-agency collaboration.

…provides a collection of principles and patterns to dynamically steer and evolve organizations.

…incrementally processes available information into continuous improvement of products, processes and skills.

…helps organizations making the best use of the talent already present, and to grow flexible organizational structures that support effective travel of information.

…contains a soft, iterative approach to implementation that meets organizations where they are and helps them move forward at their own pace.

…draws on the collective intelligence of the group

…facilitates the development of strategies that are “good enough for now” and “safe enough to try

…fosters accountability and a sense of engagement …is a transformational mechanism for both individuals and the whole organization

Sociocracy 3.0 may be applied within…

  • …startups
  • …small and medium businesses
  • …large international, networked organizations
  • …families
  • …investor-funded organizations
  • …communities

What’s in a word?

  • socio
    • from Latin socius - companion, friend
  • -cracy
    • from Ancient Greek krátos - “power, rule”
  • different to the rule of the demos
    • the general mass of people with voting privileges

A Brief History of Sociocracy From 1851 to Today

  • 1851 – Auguste Comte
    • Scientific method applied to society
    • Sociocracy is “the social order of the future” - not yet achievable but inevitable
  • 1881 – Lester Frank Ward
    • redefined the term Sociocracy to describe the rule of the people with relationships with each other
  • 1926 -1954 - Kees Boeke
    • Established the first sociocracy in his residential school (based on Quaker consensus principles)
    • Book “Sociocracy: Democracy as it might be” (1945)
  • 1970’s - Gerard Endenburg
    • Student in Kees Boeke’s school
    • Integrated principles from Engineering and Cybernetics
    • In his company Endenburg Electrotechniek he evolved “The Sociocratic Circle-Organization Method” (later becoming “The Sociocratic Method”)
  • 1978 - Sociocratisch Centrum Utrecht
    • created to promote “The Sociocratic Method
  • 1994 - New law in the Netherlands
    • Sociocratic organizations are no longer required to have a worker’s council
  • 2000 - emergence of a now wide-spread grassroots movement
  • 2007 - We the People
    • John Buck / Sharon Villines make Sociocracy accessible to the English-speaking world
  • 2014 The Sociocracy 3.0 Movement is born

The Sociocracy 3.0 Movement…

  • …develops and evolves Sociocracy 3.0 to make it available and applicable to as many organizations as possible.
  • …provides resources under a Creative Commons Free Culture License to learn, practice and teach Sociocracy 3.0.
  • …is a distributed network of pioneering consultants and trainers from a variety of fields, who:
    • share a deep appreciation for the transformational potential of sociocracy to help organizations and their members thrive
    • dedicate some of their time to developing and evolving Sociocracy 3.0

Why “Sociocracy 3.0”

Respect to the lineage, and a step forward.

  • un-centralized distribution
    • open: principle-based and modular patterns make it easy to adapt the method
    • free: eliminates barriers to entry
  • a change method that meets organizations where they are
  • condensed to the essentials
  • integrated with lean and agile thinking
  • new ways to evolve organizational structure

Design Goals

  • open:
    • Do with it what you want
    • Take just what you need
    • Remix, extend and adapt it as you like
  • free
    • Free resources
    • no hidden fees
    • no certifications
    • no small print!
  • effective:
    • Principles and tools have been tried and tested for decades in many organizations.
    • need-driven, value-driven, customer focus
  • actionable:
    • There’s something that YOU can use right now, regardless of your unique context
    • Sociocracy 3.0 contains lots of ideas you can try out within your area of influence.
  • lightweight:
    • just the essentials: Common-sense practices, bare-bone processes.
    • no stuff that gets in the way
    • no busywork


Definition: A pattern is a template for successfully navigating a specific context.

  • patterns are discovered through observing many organizations as they solve problems
  • patterns may need to be adapted and evolved to suit differing contexts.

Principles behind Sociocracy 3.0

  • Sociocracy is built on 7 core principles
  • the core principles are also values that shape organizational culture
  • understanding these principles is paramount to adopting and adapting Sociocracy 3.0 patterns
  • practicing Sociocracy 3.0 helps people appreciate the essential value that these core principles bring, both to individuals and organizations

Principle: Empiricism

Knowledge in an organization can only be gained through experience, as it is highly dependent on context.

  • basis of the scientific method
  • in a complex adaptive system all knowledge is tentative
  • embrace change: continuous revision and falsification
  • reality vs. assumptions
  • learning organization

Decisions are made only in the absence of reasoned objection from those affected by them.

  • when dealing with complexity, group wisdom exceeds individual abilities
  • deliberately seeking objections invites collective intelligence:
    • allows for harvesting information to improve the decision
    • helps identify misunderstanding early
    • fosters support and accountability for decisions

Principle: Effectiveness

Devote time only to that which brings you closer to achieving your objectives.

  • avoid waste
  • remove impediments
  • good enough for now, safe enough to try

Principle: Equivalence

Everyone affected by a decision has the power to withdraw consent on the basis of reasoned objection.

  • position, rank, function or role has no special influence in decision making

Principle: Transparency

All information is accessible to anyone in an organization. Confidentiality requires consent.

  • all relevant information is kept up-to-date
  • historical information is archived for reference

Principle: Continuous Improvement

Evolution is more effective than revolution (most of the time).

  • applies to everything (e.g. strategies, guidelines, products, skills, processes and tools)
  • respond to change by building on and transforming what is already there
  • small steps create less resistance, lower risk, and accommodate steady empirical learning

Principle: Accountability

The process of entering and keeping agreements, and managing expectations in any relationship.

  • an obligation or willingness to do what we agree to and to answer for when we don’t
  • a principle relevant to groups, organizations and individuals
  • a shift from being held to account, and towards a culture of self-accountability


An organization is defined by its values, driver and strategy.

  • an organizations values define culture and set parameters for action
  • an organizations existence is motivated by its driver
  • an organizations service is defined by its strategy

  • organizations are aligned towards values, driver and strategy
  • with Sociocracy 3.0, purpose is implicit (to satisfy drivers)
  • to transition towards Sociocracy 3.0 an organization:
    • identifies values and driver of the organization
    • incorporates vision, mission, aims or objectives in the strategy
    • seeks out drivers for all existing policy and agreements (including circles and roles)