Kim Scott: More democratic power? What Scotland really needs is sociocracy

Ben Wray

Kim Scott, co-creator of Sandbox Enquiries, explains what Sociocracy is and why it could be an exciting idea for Scotland, with events in Edinburgh on Sociocracy later this month

GOVERNANCE and how we make decisions is a subject constantly in the spotlight. Whether we are making decisions, what decisions need made and what decisions we arrive at are all under constant attention. 

It’s widely recognised in Scotland that most of us have a lack of democratic power – but what we are really interested in is having more voices from the people.

Are we a ‘Demos’ – the many ruled by the elected few? Current political orthodoxy says yes, but we are not the common people of an ancient greek state, where the idea originated from, and which did not include those of any other cast, faith or ethnicity!

In Scotland I believe I see the work and the attitudes of a people serving the ‘Socio’ – rule by all members of a social group, the people, our society, the voice of the smaller collectives. And I would like to bring forward the idea that what we in Scotland really want is sociocracy.

Sociocracy is not a new word. Over 250 years old, Auguste Comte coined the name after our last enlightenment. Sociocracy is the big sister to democracy.

So what is this sociocracy – just another idea to bring in the communists? Socialists? Lead us to ruin…like our current system! No! 

READ MORE: How to govern ourselves: How Sociocracy can help Scotland

Since the beginning of the 20th century the Dutch have been a leading force behidn this concept. It was originally brought to Holland by dutch educator Kees Boeke and wife Beatrice Cadbury, founders of a school in 1926 using sociocratic ideas and practice. Out of the students who attended the school emerged Gerard Endenburg, an electrical engineer and a leading developer of his time. Gerard has spoken of how being part of a school which encouraged participation and ownership of your contribution has inspired him since the age of 8 years old in developing the current sociocratic principles and practice which are happening in many places across the world today.

Sociocracy is a governance and decision making toolkit – a way to make transparent decisions, policy, guidance, shared values. Ensuring mutual rules, achievable goals and manageable dates to review, creating space for every voice and most importantly, for Endenburg, especially the inclusion of double linking. This means that information can move down the chain from management and back up the chain from the workers and people directly engaged with trends and shifting technological knowledge. This ensures efficiency and effectiveness, adapting with current needs of the market as well as employees. When you value the people and their knowledge there is a greater mutual investment from stockholders and employees.

Key points which makes somethin sociocratic are: Transparency, efficiency and consent. This is vital to ensure all voices are heard and that any gaps or missed-takes can be seen by the collective working in that particular area of expertise and day to day running, building confidence and trust in the people and being more solutions orientated.

READ MORE: Robin McAlpine: Common Weal is embracing politics from the bottom-up – people power is our only hope

With all this in mind it is important we see that change like this is about ‘new learning’ – an attitude change. And I am happy to inform you that there is an opportunity to come learn this governance toolkit in February 2019.

Sociocracy has been around in Scotland for a number of years, brought to the english speaking world by John Buck and Sharon Villines in their book ‘We the people’. John Buck has been holding training in Scotland for many years and we look forward to his return.

This month we welcome Jerry Koch-Gonzalez, who is a consultant and certified trainer in Dynamic Governance/Sociocracy and Compassionate Communication (NVC), focusing on governance, decision-making, communication skills, and conflict resolution/restorative circles. Koch-Gonzalez is a founding resident of Pioneer Valley Cohousing, a community that has been successfully using Dynamic Governance since 2012. With his colleague Ted, Jerry co-founded Sociocracy For All, an international movement service organization that provides resources, training and networking for sociocracy practitioners. He co-authored the sociocracy handbook Many Voices One Song in June 2018 and has taught sociocracy workshops in several countries; USA, Canada, Brazil, and Italy.

Koch-Gonzalez will be holding two training sessions. On Saturday 23 February in Edinburgh there will be an introduction to the terms and words of Sociocracy, which will be held at Moray house, School of Education, Edinburgh University. Time: 9.30 – 5pm. (follow the link for details).

On Sunday 24 February, also in Edinburgh, Jerry will be hosting a training for those who have already attended an introduction and are up to speed with the language of Sociocracy, at the same venue and time (follow the link for details).

It is with much delight that we are holding this event in collaboration with the Scottish Climate Change Action Network (SCCAN) and Sociocracy for All (SoFA), with continued project development from Sandbox Enquiries (creative ideas organisation).