We have adopted sociocracy as our mode of governance. Sociocracy allows for decentralized decision-making by taking advantage of the strengths, aspirations and values of each member of the organization. The sociocratic process relies on collective intelligence and allows the community to reach a common goal with the consent of each member; nobody is ignored.
Sociocracy can be adopted by organizations of any size: a family, a company, a country! It was developed by Gerard Endenburg, a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur, and uses four principles: circles, double linking, decision-making by consent, and election without candidates.
At Cohabitat Québec (CQ), all members must have received training in sociocracy.
- Core (thematic) circles are made up of full members and have an elected director. These circles are responsible for decisions that fall within the mandate and objectives assigned to their circle by the Board. They forward proposals to the General Circle for adoption or approval.
- The General Circle, which at Cohabitat we call the General Board of Directors,is an expanded Board of Directors. It is formed by the directors and double links of each circle as well as the general coordinator. This circle makes strategic decisions sociocratically and adopts the rules and policies of the organization. By default, all decisions taken by the General Board of Directors are decisions of the Board, unless a director objects.
- The restricted Board of Directors operates in a circle within the General Board of Directors. It is made up of the directors from the thematic circles and an outside director. The general coordinator also participates in Board meetings.
Two people from each circle participate in the decision-making in the next higher circle: the circle’s coordinator and an elected representative (also called a delegate). The latter represents the general interest of their circle to the next higher circle. Their term of office is two years.
Decision-making by consent
Unlike consensus, which is one of the tools of democracy and seeks to convince and rally all YES votes, consent requires a commitment not to oppose a proposal. It does not seek to have members approve a proposal, rather it asks if members oppose it (the aim is zero objection).
Selection and assignment of members
The sociocratic election is an election without a pre-determined list of candidates. It happens in the following way:
- Individuals are given functions or certain mandates with the consent of the Circle.
- Each person nominates the candidate of their choice and presents their arguments.
- The Circle decides to select a candidate based on the arguments presented.
- The choice and assignment of people to a role or the delegation of a task is made on the basis of the consent of the members present, after an open discussion in the Circle.