Beyond Democracy 5 How People Who Use Sociocracy Talk About It

So now we know the rules of the game, what’s the experience of playing the game? What does sociocracy look like in practice?
Well, in 2007 I got a high definition video camera and some editing software and made a 28-minute video about sociocracy. I traveled to Vermont, Washington, D.C., the Netherlands, and one mile from my house to a medical company that was adopting it that year. I later also got an interview with a school director in North Carolina. I’m just going to show you some clips that will help paint a picture of what using sociocratic processes results in.

If you’re getting this in an e-mail message, you can check out my vlog here.

Below are the transcriptions from those interviews.

Renee Owen, Executive Director of Rainbow Mountain Children’s School in Asheville, North Carolina: “One thing that was very interesting that somebody said at the very beginning of the school year – right after we adopted dynamic governance – was something like, ‘It seems like we have so much more work to do. We’ve taken on so many more jobs, but my job seems easier.’ And I think the reason for that is because the organization was running so much better.”
“So, at first, it was taking a little bit more time, but that only lasted a couple months and now it’s actually running more efficiently, but even if that had continued, and it was taking a little bit more time, I think most of us would rather go home after an 8 ½ hour day that we felt empowered, and we were satisfied and we were successful than going home at the end of an 8 hour day feeling belittled and inefficient and ineffective.”

CMR is Charlottesville Medical Research in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Nancy Bolton, former CEO, CMR: “No one is really saying ‘pass’ or ‘I don’t have anything to say’ unless they truly are just neutral with the subject. Whereas before some people would not be saying anything. So I think it’s created much more of a trusting environment actually.”

Penny Amos, research assistant, CMR: “We have never left a meeting with something just hanging in mid air and said,
We’ll have to get back to that. We’ll have to think about it.’ We go in and we discuss it and we make a decision.”

Chike Delmore, patient recruiter, CMR: “It’s sped up the process by which our group has been able to make decisions.”

Renee Owen: “It’s completely, really taken us by surprise. We didn’t expect to adopt it originally. We didn’t expect to adopt it so quickly. And we had no idea the results would be so incredible. And I would like to find a way to let more organizations know about it.”
“It was really kind of a benign monarchy before we had dynamic governance because I prefer to run an organization in a way that everyone is empowered and they have a voice, but we didn’t have the structure for that.”
“Since we’ve adopted dynamic governance, it’s much easier and more efficient for me to delegate. I’m able to receive information from different committees in a much more efficient fashion. I can’t tell you how much more enjoyable my job is.”

Piet Slieker, CEO of Endenburg Electronics where sociocracy was first developed over thirty years ago: “My clients, they are convinced that this is the method they want, because we have better motivated people. They know that we want to listen to them and that they are not a number or something.”

Renee Owen: “Dynamic governance has created a fabulous model because they are watching everybody in our community now work together and everybody’s empowered. We’re always talking to the kids about being creative. We’re always wanting them to be inspired and to use their own intuition and creativity and now they’re seeing a much better model amongst the adults in the organization because we’re being more creative and we’re working together in a much better fashion than we were before.”

Joyce Womack, current CEO: “It’s taken us a year to really understand ourselves to a certain extent, to set up all of our domains, to really understand what is each circle’s mission and aim, how it fits with the mission and aim of the company overall, and what is your personal level of responsibility to that circle.”

Renee Owen: “Since we adopted dynamic governance it has been easier for parents to integrate into policy making at the school. Dynamic governance has ended up becoming one large, ongoing visioning process at our school. Dynamic governance naturally creates visioning all the time. It’s naturally pulling the opinions of all stakeholders at all different times.”

Bert Lambeck, principal of the Roombeek Schools in Enschede in the Netherlands: “In this school and also my former school the people get more involved. We are more productive. The quality is better. There is less illness by the teachers. There are less problems. The atmosphere is better. It’s good for the children. It’s good for the parents.”

Joyce Womack: “A more satisfied staff including me. I like coming to work. They like coming to work. We care about each other in a way and things that matter. It’s not just about the bottom line. It’s about human individuals and why else are we on this earth? I’m not here to make a dollar for someone. I’m here to make a contribution.”
“I’ve been in business for 30 years and I haven’t run across a better way.”

What I learned while making my video is that sociocracy is not only a great way for people to self-organize, it also fosters personal transformation.
My next vlog will have more clips of people talking about that transformation. Please join me again for that one.


  1. Deborah Andrew says:

    Dear Steve,

    I am both fascinated and curious. You ‘fearlessly’ call Sociocracy by it’s name throughout, yet the folks in your video call it ‘Dynamic Governance’ … On a personal level, I find the latter sad as Sociocracy has a noble history that I feel is not honored by the use of Dynamic Governance. John Buck is not the only person who has re-named Sociocracy. Does this serve us well in the long run? I would suggest not. There appears to me to be an uneven quality and depth of understanding amongst some who are being sent out as ‘trainers’ … As I have such a high regard tor Sociocracy and have, among other things, written a handbook that has been approved by the Sociocratsch Centrum, I find myself troubled.

    You have expressed through your video and work a deep appreciation for the possibilities inherent in the practice of Sociocracy, that I seek your comments, thoughts.

    With all good wishes,

    Deborah Andrew

    • Hi Deborah,
      Yes. The name confusion is unfortunate and I have gone between preferring DSG for awhile, then DG, then Sociocracy. Now that I’m trying to bring it beyond businesses I tend to use sociocracy to compare it to those other ‘ocracies.

      Where are you? What’s your sociocracy story?