The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. However, our mental programming can leave us stuck in the same old habitual ways of handling problems and facing challenges. We could be truly living up to the definition of insanity without even realizing it. That kind of rut can extend to the people we work with too, preventing a team from operating efficiently or solving a problem, causing them as a whole to perform poorly.
There is a way to navigate decision making within a group setting that can propel everyone, rather than block everyone and prevent a solution from happening. Sociocracy, a governance system designed for organizations that want to self-govern based on a foundation of equality, focuses on consent rather than consensus. With consensus, everyone agrees to the decision. If you are working with a large group, it can take a long time to arrive at an agreement and the solution may not be the most efficient for the whole organization. When the driving force is consensus, members also tend to show up with a competitive mindset, focused on getting the resources they need and doing things their way.
Consent, however, is different. When you operate from a position of consent, it’s okay that not everyone fully agrees. You can all still move forward because the solution you came up with is acceptable to all. A sociocratic catchphrase to ask the group would be: Is this good enough for now? Is it safe enough to try? Experimentation with solutions among the group is an important aspect to sociocracy because it ensures that even if not everyone agrees, you can still develop and test out a solution.
Imagine that you’re assigned to a group project with a hundred other people who are all working together toward the common goal. The group is comprised of subgroups from marketing, finance, management, etc. Those subgroups (called circles in the sociocracy method) have different priorities and agendas, which can affect communications unless the group finds a way to operate that allows all groups to be heard.
No single person can make every decision for a hundred group members. Sociocracy, however, focuses on letting each department or circle speak their thoughts via a delegate. The circle comes to an agreement by consent before the delegate makes their presentation. That information is shared with the rest of the groups. In turn, each of the circles has more data from the other departments so that they are able to align their ideas with the overall aim of the group and the scope of the operation. Working through a delegate system also avoids people speaking over one another in a chaotic “town hall” type setting. It also helps remove personal biases, which aids the whole group in staying focused on reaching their main goal.
What’s good about this system too is that it comes with checks and balances. Introverts can easily shut down and stop participating if there is a dominant voice in the group. For other people, it can be difficult to remain engaged and calm while one person is controlling the decision making. You may even check out because you feel like you’re not being heard. Sociocracy gives you a space within your small circle where you are going to be heard, because it’s expected that everyone participates, in order to reach a decision by consent. There also isn’t room for one person to dominate a conversation. Everyone’s point of view would be shared in a way that is helpful for the individual and the group.
Sociocracy can also give us insight about our own selves. A leader in this setting would be elected based on strengths that other members of the group may see. You may find that your peers notice a skill or trait you possess that could be meaningful in a leadership role. Perhaps you’re great at putting things in layman’s terms or distilling multiple pieces of information into one main message. The group may see your qualities of honesty, mindfulness, fairness, and elect you to be the leader. It’s about seeing each person’s skillset and putting them into the proper role so that the entire group is empowered and more efficient.
Think about how many meetings you’ve been a part of where everyone is talking in circles and there is no resolution to the problem you were tasked with solving. Maybe you get off topic and now nothing is related to the main goal of the meeting. Applying a sociocratic approach, where you divide the circles by department, give them each an objective, and allow everyone to have a voice before they reach a decision by consent, can help keep the conversation focused. Implementing this method can feel clunky and weird at first, as if you were learning to write with your non-dominant hand. This is something that will require a slow down to speed up, like we talk about with the rat race. Tapping into the creativity and wisdom among ourselves and others enables us to go further and faster, especially when we slow down first to really listen to one another.
When decisions are made solely on consensus, people may not understand how the resolution connects with the actual mission or the project. When you take the time to do your sociocratic rounds, and have everyone give consent, they are all on board as a unit. When a group finds their flow, it feels much more productive than having one person be the deciding factor.
What would it be like if you could truly leverage the talents of everybody on your team? What if everyone had input and could contribute their wisdom? Think about how fast you could be moving toward your goals as a group. There are no obstacles, only the ones that we create in our own minds. Write down any ideas that you may have, and take an inspired action that is aligned with those thoughts.
In the meantime, visit my website, RatRaceReboot.com, for more information. There you will find handouts on mindset and success that are available for download. Remember, everything is created twice, first in your mind and second in physical form.