New web site launched!

We have just launched our new and improved web site – if you are reading this, it is the new site you are seeing!

A fundamental improvement is that our site is now mobile-friendly, and will be far easier to use on smartphones and tablets (if you find any problems on your phone or tablet please let us know!).

There’s a batch of new videos by our CEO, Jerry Koch-Gonzalez,  on our About -> Resources page – check them out! And watch for more coming soon, along with more Success Stories on the About -> Sociocracy page.

regards,

The Sociocracy Consulting Group

 

How to Improve Employee Engagement

A November Gallup Poll finds that employee engagement – trending downwards in recent years – is still distressingly low.

Consequences for companies in all sectors include increased employee turnover, with associated costs for hiring and training. What causes this – and more importantly, what can be done to address low employee engagement?

In this press release, some of our member consultants, and clients, comment on this situation, illuminating how sociocracy – dynamic governance – can turn this situation around, increasing employee engagement and bringing the benefits of committed, enthused team members to your business.

 

Smooth flying for PULSE Board thanks to Dynamic Governance

In this post on the Exceptional Boards blog, Michael Kelrick, chair of the biology department at Truman State University, describes his experiences as he and his fellow PULSE (Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education) members begin to implement Dynamic Governance in their organization, with training and support from members of The Sociocracy Consulting Group (TSCG).

Mr. Kelrick will be joining TSCG’s Jerry Koch-Gonzalez and Sheella Mierson to present a session on Consent Decision Making: The “Dynamic Governance” Model at the BoardSource Leadership Forum taking place in Washington, D.C., on October 9th and 10th, 2014.

 

Learning Organizational Agility – From A School Success Story

Triple Pundit has just published the third of three articles by writer Sarah Lozanova on sociocracy (also called Dynamic Governance), a collaborative and highly effective organizational design and governance system for both for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations – “What Can a School Teach Us about Organizational Agility?

The article focuses on Rainbow Community School as a real-world example of the benefits for teachers, students, administrators, and families that come from running the school sociocratically. Executive Director Renee Owen speaks to how sociocracy supported difficult tasks such as rebranding and renaming the school and taking it from struggling financially to being at full capacity and with would-be students on a wait-list.

Engaged Employees – Dynamic Governance at Residential Care Home

Triple Pundit has just published the second of three articles by writer Sarah Lozanova on Dynamic Governance (Sociocracy), a high employee engagement approach for both for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations – “How This Residential Care Home Bumped Employee Engagement Into Overdrive.”

The article focuses on Living Well Care Home and the Ethan Allen Residence as real-world examples of the benefits for residents, families, and staff from increased employee engagement, which is built into Dynamic Governance’s approach to organizational design structures and processes. TSCG’s Sheella Mierson contributes some clarification and additional information on how sociocracy generates these benefits.

Five common facilitation mistakes

Five Common Mistakes Facilitators Make that Can Ruin a Meeting and Leave Participants Thinking They Wasted their Time

by Sheella Mierson

5. Agreement about who is the facilitator

The facilitator ensures that the group has clear processes and that everyone’s voice is heard. Other people can help, but being wishy-washy about who is the facilitator usually makes things messy. It’s a paradox. Having one person who is clearly in charge can provide structure and safety for everyone to take part. Sometimes in the name of equality groups will avoid clearly designating who is facilitating the meeting, and hope for the best, and you as the facilitator go along and skip getting clear agreement about your role. Occasionally that can work. If there are agenda items to discuss that are emotional for participants, that strategy can come crashing down around your ears.

4. Advance preparation

I often spend as long or longer preparing for a meeting as actually facilitating it. When I’ve prepared well, the payoff is enormous in terms of a sense of accomplishment and even pleasure at the end of the meeting on the part of all participants. There are multiple aspects to advance preparation. Here are a few:

  • Creating the agenda ahead of time. That includes identifying what even needs to be on the agenda and what is better handled another way.
  • Distributing the agenda ahead of time.
  • Deciding on priorities if time runs short.
  • Anticipating challenges. This can include challenges to you being the facilitator, dealing with people who tend to dominate the meeting, what to do when participants’ emotions run high, and what to do when your emotions run high (yes, it will happen, especially if you are a member of the group rather than an outside facilitator).

3. Clarity about how to handle each agenda item

This is part of advance preparation. If you skip thinking this through, you can flounder a lot in a meeting. For each agenda item, it’s helpful to think about

  • How to introduce it, and who will do that.
  • What process you will use to address it, and what outcome you desire. Do you plan to do picture forming only? Do you want a decision in this meeting? I find that when I include this information in the agenda, participants know what to expect and can be better prepared; they may also be more relaxed.

2. Feedback about the meeting

If you want continuous improvement in how the group functions in meetings, ask for — and make sure you receive — feedback in a closing round at the end of every meeting. Request feedback about the meeting as a whole and about the facilitation specifically. In addition, from time to time ask someone in the group to take notes and give you individual feedback afterwards, to help you grow as a facilitator. Mistakes happen; the trick is to learn from them. Following these suggestions will help you learn, so that you can be your best self and bring out the best in your group.

1. Investment in developing yourself as a facilitator

Excellent facilitation is both a science and an art. It helps bring out the best in a group, so that the group can accomplish its purpose. Good facilitators make it look so easy that we may overlook what went into developing their skills. To expect that you will somehow know what to do in every situation in a meeting without training and practice would be like expecting that you could fly an airplane or play the flute without training and practice. Investing in developing yourself as a facilitator can pay off in every aspect of your life, and of course for the group that is lucky enough to have you as a facilitator.

Here’s a chance to develop yourself as a facilitator: Register for our online Dynamic Governance Facilitation Class. It’s a great opportunity to learn how to avoid mistakes as a facilitator and to send your meeting participants off with a joyful sense of having accomplished what they came to do. The class includes lots of practice and feedback.

Join our e-mail list to get advance notice of upcoming classes, and follow us on Twitter, @SociocracyGroup.

Dynamic Governance for better decisions – new article at TriplePundit

Triple Pundit has just published the first of three articles by writer Sarah Lozanova on Dynamic Governance (Sociocracy), a new operating system for both for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations – “Dynamic Governance: A New System for Better Decisions.”

The article features a real-world example of Dynamic Governance’s effectiveness in helping the Virgina plastics manufacturer Creative Urethanes through some significant business challenges, as related by CEO Richard Heitfield. TSCG’s Sheella Mierson contributes some clarification and additional information on how sociocracy works in particular situations.

 

Triple Pundit looks at sociocracy for distributed leadership

Thanks to Triple Pundit and writer Sarah Lozanova for this article on sociocracy as an organizational structure for distributed leadership, featuring some comments from TSCG’s Jerry Koch-Gonzalez.

Lozanova mentions MacGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y of human motivation, saying “Theory Y depicts employees as intrinsically motivated with a participatory approach to problem-solving…Although the latter may sound like a good idea – helping to bring out the best in employees – it is difficult to implement on a factory floor or in an office setting.”

She then goes on to briefly outline how sociocracy provides practical principles, processes, and structures that can be used to implement Theory Y.

There is no lack of theoretical approaches to, and ideas about, shared and/or distributed leadership, self-steering and self-owning organizations, collaborative decision-making, cooperative enterprises, and other more effective, productive, and humanizing alternatives to primarily hierarchical organizations. And, implementing these theories can be, as Lozanova points out, problematic.

What sociocracy provides are functional, practical tools to make these ideas and theories come alive in real-world organizations.

Dynamic Governance for Nonprofit Organizations

There’s a new publication on our resources page!

Dynamic Governance for Nonprofit Organizations,” by John Buck and Jerry Koch-Gonzalez, explains how the principles of dynamic governance, also known as sociocracy, apply to nonprofit organizations, and serves as a supplement to the article “The Creative Forces of Self-Organization.”

We appreciate your feedback for improving how we communicate about dynamic governance. Please send your comments on this article to contact@sociocracyconsulting.com.

TSCG presents at International Leadership Association Conference 2013

TSCG members with colleagues at 2013 ILA conference

TSCG members with colleagues at the 2013 ILA conference. Rear: John Buck, Ghislaine Cimon, Gilles Charest, Christine Larose, Jerry Koch-Gonzalez, Sheella Mierson, Guy Chagnon. Front: Sabine Heyman, Pierre Barbès, Francine Proulx-Kenzle.

TSCG members were active contributors to the 2013 ILA conference in Montreal.

  • John Buck and Jerry Koch-Gonzalez presented on public leadership with the workshop Intentional Neighborhoods: Key to Regional Resilience.
  • John Buck was also a co-presenter in the area of business leadership, joining Lynne Williams and Ryan Siemer of TW Telecomm, Inc. in offering Transformational Leadership and Dynamic Governance: A Partnership for Possibility.
  • Sheella Mierson collaborated with Jessica Brown of the Barrett Values Centre to present Design and Build Healthy Professional Relationships Using the Blueprint of the We Process.
  • Francine Proulx-Kenzle teamed up with Christine Larose of Sociogest to offer Sociocracy: The Basis for Resilient Educational Institutions.