‘What Is DSG?’

The basics of DG – an outline

A very good explanation of DG (DSG, sociocracy) is this 20 page booklet by John Buck and Gerard Endenburg called The Creative Forces of Self-organization.

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Endenburg named his method after a word coined by Auguste Compte (1798-1857), the man credited with developing the scientific method and creating the field of sociology. Compte defined a social system in which all members of a society would participate in their own governance and called it ‘sociocracy.’ Compte’s sociocracy would be built on social ideals and scientific inquiry. The film will examine whether Endenburg’s sociocracy lives up to Compte’s ideal. The word sociocracy makes many people think of socialism and since many people in the United States have a negative attitude towards socialism, sociocracy has received other monikers such as dynamic governance (DG) and dynamic self-governance (DSG) to differentiate it.

Gerard Endenburg

Gerard Endenburg

In 1968 Endenburg realized that the critical element needed to reach his goal was to address the way power was handled. To do this, he turned to his knowledge of cybernetic, systems theory, chaos theory, feedback, biological organisms, and quantum phenomena. The foundational element of his system was his development of “consent decision-making”. In this method, a proposal is made, and, using people’s reactions and reasoned objections, amendments are gradually made to the proposal until no one objects to passing it. An objection can only be made if there is a good reason and if the member absolutely cannot work if the proposal were passed. This is called having a “reasoned and paramount” objection. This process of feedback involves the use of “rounds” in which each member has time to speak without being answered by anyone else.

Many people, when they first hear about consent, think that it can’t work, but the experience of Endenburg Electronics, and the Sociocratic Center in the Netherlands has shown that it not only works, but also accomplishes its design goals and results in quick and effective decisions. Endenburg also discovered that by giving employees influence over their own workplace increased their motivation. Making decisions collectively brought out the best of everyone’s knowledge, experience, and creativity. The emphasis given to reasoning, looking for objections, and resolving those objections stimulated creative solutions.

After implementing this model of decision-making, Endenburg soon realized that he needed to redesign the entire structure his organization as well. As an engineer he could see that the typical linear structure used in most organizations was a mechanical model that was not appropriate for social systems. Using technical disciplines like cybernetics and systems theory he created a structure for a dynamic organization.

The Dutch Sociocracy Center lists four main principles: Decisions by consent, circle processes, double linking, and elections by consent. Some of the other important aspects of sociocracy:

-All information, including financial, is transparent.

-It’s important to have the organization decide what its vision, mission, and aim are. All circles (teams) in the organization decide on at least an aim.

-Employees receive a base pay, plus short-term and long-term compensation based on their performance. It turned out that workers in this situation would not tolerate working with poor managers. This feedback loop has had the effect of weeding out managers who may be good at playing political games, but aren’t good managers.

-Endenburg later realized that he still had power over everyone else in his company by being able to sell the company and their jobs. Working with others, he came up with a way for it to be structured so that it owned itself and it has now for the last 24 years. It can be merged, but cannot be bought or sold.

Some of the benefits of sociocracy that have consistently been reported:

– Meetings are shorter and more effective, and people feel energized when they’re over.
– Worker happiness/retention/commitment is higher.
- Workers take less sick leave.
- Companies have better safety records.
- CEOs have more time for long-term visioning.
- Organizations are more adaptive.
- Clients are happier because they are more fully considered in the mission and goals of the organization.
- Creativity and innovation are fostered which improves product and process reliability and quality.
- Profits increase

After decades of practical use, the verdict is in: Sociocracy works and it works well!

While researching this film we have met many people who are looking for new forms of governance. They have already rejected the old, but don’t know of a better way yet. Democracy, although premised on the idea of all people being equal, in practice allows for great disparity of power and the ignoring of a minority, among other criticisms. Consensus, seen as an alternative, can be frustrating, allows for manipulation of power as well and can take a long time. These kinds of structures allow some people to dominate others. It is sociocracy’s rejection of domination that is its most important and powerful aspect. This aspect ties sociocracy in with many trends going on in the world today including permaculture, holistic and integrative medicine, strengthening local economies, etc.

This film makes it obvious what domination looks like, how to evaluate it in the world around us, and shows that sociocracy is based in a rejection of domination. There is an obvious need for people to live freely, yet we don’t learn how to evaluate what freedom is and whether we have actually attained it or not. The practice of sociocracy makes it clear what skills we need to be free.

The importance of the need for sociocracy can be illustrated by the fact that we don’t have the language to talk about the rejection of domination in the positive. Some possibilities are self-determination, cooperative, freedom-based, non-violent, ahimsa, and acceptance, but they all require more explanation. In the same way, we don’t think in these terms because we don’t talk about it.

There are many good reasons why sociocracy can improve our lives. In organizations using it, the structure creates guarantees: People treat each other as equals; They treat each other more humanely and not like parts of a machine; No one can ignore anyone else’s desires – the root cause of violence; We see what skills we need to practice freedom; We can also mitigate the problems we create when people make decisions by themselves – problems like lack of experience, extreme self-interest, corruption of power, and acting in the interest of an elite; Most importantly, though, it focuses the organization on an agreed-upon vision – not on profit maximization. Being fiscally viable is an important measurement, but it is not the only goal an organization will be pursuing if it is a responsible and contributing part of its community.

Sociocracy shows us clearly how to evaluate domination. Sociocracy shows us what freedom is and that we need to actively create it. Sociocracy allows us to work together to accomplish what really needs to be done.

The Book

John Buck and Sharon Villine’s book ‘We The People’

And at Amazon

A good place to start right now

A 28-page article by Gerard Endenburg and John Buck The Creative Forces of Self-Organization


P2P Foundation site about MY site! with a link to an old trailer.

The North American DG Conference was held in June 2010

The River Flows Both Ways – A New Era Of Organizational Governance

June 14-16 2010, in Whitehorse, Yukon


Fabien Chabreuil’s Integral Personality, in French

Jan Höglund’s Blog

Jean-Marc Perreault’s is in English

Leaving Babylon


Global website of the Sociocratic Centers

The Dutch Sociocracy Center

SocioNet – Network for Sociocracy, Governing with Consent Washington, D.C.

The French Center

The German Center

The Belgian Center

Sociocracy UK How-to, community & developing Collaborative Governance in the UK

A Swedish sociocracy website and translated into English

Articles and Misc.

Dynamic Governance: A New System for Better Decisions in Triple Pundit – people, planet, profit

Sociocracy: An Organizational Structure for Distributed Leadership is another article at Triple Pundit – People, Planet, Profit.

The Austen Bellydance Association uses sociocracy, but doesn’t mention it in their website.

Here is an article from January 22nd, 2012 about the Blue Scorcher Bakery in Astoria, OR. “…the Blue Scorcher… …will incorporate the sociocratic form of governance, and may be the first coop in North America to do so.”

Busting the Myth that Consensus-with-Unanimity is Good For Communities, Part I

Some very cool stuff going on in the Children’s Parliament in India

The latest Sociocracy newsletter in English

Dynamic Governance about the US Green Building Councils experiment with DG at Worldshapers! Social Innovators “Rebalancing” Society.

A conversation about a sociocratic school

“I have checked the government’s inspection board reports from the last 5 years, since you’ve asked… and the school scores above average on the whole… low scores on ….lol pushing paperwork (for teachers, control administration and students, midterms) and high scores in next to the basic education subjects, more attention for art subjects and nature.”

The Future of Governance is Circular

The Netherlands has a sociocratic political party!
Here is the same page translated into English.

Maureen and Zelle in Asheville

My old sociocracy site Here you can find the

* meeting format

* proposal part of the meeting format

* election format, as well as more detailed info about other aspects of DG

A video interview with John Buck on the Jim Rough Show (28:31)

Wikipedia’s ‘sociocracy’ entry.

P2P Foundation wiki’s ‘sociocracy’ entry.

A very nice article from the Australian magazine NOVA

Als u het Nederlands kunt lezen, zijn hier sommige goede artikelen

A number of cohousing villages use sociocracy

Woodbury University School of Media, Culture, and Design

Worldshapers Social innovators “Rebalancing” society

Katywil ”eco-village” in Colrain, MA “Find” the word ‘sociocracy’ in the article.

Gaian Democracies: Redefining Globalisation and People-Power has a lot in common with DG. The author’s, Roy Madron’s, blog.

Piapot Landing An Oasis on the TransCanada Hwy In Saskatchewan, Canada.

A new site called ‘Sociocracy.’


The Sociocracy Consulting Group Equivalence. Effectiveness. Transparency.

Genius Engine If you’re building something that matters, they’ve got your back.

John Buck’s Governance Alive

Sheella Mierson’s Creative Learning Solutions, Inc.

Both-And Consulting Supporting Effectiveness, Efficiency and Transparency

Gilles Charest’s Sociogest
Sociogest in English

L’ecole Internationale des Chef

Fabien Chabreuil’s IDEOdynamic, in French
IDEOdynamic in English

Bernard Marie

Communicating with Compassion (NVC)

Sociocratic, Ecological and Economic Development Looks interesting, but they don’t have their own website yet I guess

Eco-living Cultural and ecological designing

Sims & Steele Consulting Serving nonprofits since 1994.

Communities using Dynamic Governance

A large Canadian experiment with DG DG will be used to explore the notions of “participative democracy” among the 750 inhabitants of Très-Saint-Rédempteur through a co-op using a $250,000 (Canadian) grant

Cohabitat Quebec, a community of neighbors in an urban village.

Champlain Valley Cohousing – Country living close to the cultural center of Burlington, Vermont

Earthhaven in North Carolina has adopted the elections process and some there are adopting more of it.

Ecovillage of Loudoun County, in Virginia near Washington, DC

The Farm of Peace – A Farm Retreat in South-Central Pennsylvania

Findhorn Foundation in Morayshire, Scotland

Green Haven Cohousing, a growing cohousing community in the greater New Haven area.

EcoVila KanAwen in Spain is adopting it. There’s more about them in English here.

Legacy Farm Cohousing in Rosendale, NY

Metta Earth Institute – A Center for Contemplative Ecology in Lincoln, Vermont

Narara EcoVillage in Australia – inspired by life.

Neighbourhood Community Network – a very large experiment going on in Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh, whose office is in Nagercoil, a municpal town and headquarters of Kanyakumari District, the southernmost district of India!

New Findhorn Association – Findhorn Foundation and Community

Pacem Learning Community an educational center for 10-18 year old students dedicated to sustainability and the principles and promotion of peace.

Sustainable Ballard – A Blueprint for EveryTown USA in Seattle, Washington

Zen Peacemakers – A force for Socially Engaged Buddhism in Montague, Massachusetts

Enterprises using Dynamic Governance

Alter Ego theater company in France.

Asheville Movement Collective

Charlottesville Medical Research in my own Charlottesville, Virginia

Children of the Earth, based in the US with initiatives in Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, and Uganda

CÔTE À CÔTE les ateliers artistiques

Creative Urethanes in Winchester, Virginia

De School The School – translated by Google in Zandvoort, The Netherlands

Decision Lab Facilitation, training, coaching & consultancy services

Here is a nice article based on an interview with Nathanial Whitestone, a co-founder of Decision Lab.

Endenburg Electronics is the original laboratory for DG and is located in Rotterdam, in The Netherlands

Fabrique – a Dutch multi-disciplinary design company for new media, brand-development, graphic design and industrial design in Delft, the Netherlands

GRAAP – Swiss Francophone group for psychological action
And in English

The Guus Kieft School in Amstelveen, the Netherlands

INVCI the Institute of Nonviolent Communication in India

Living Well in Bristol, Vermont

Living Well earned the ’2008 Governor’s Excellence Award, Program Champion’ by the Governor’s Commission on Healthy Aging, and Dee DeLuca, the “administrator,” won an ‘Administrator of the Year Award’ for residential care homes from the state of Vermont in 2009.

Next Step Together – a viral {r}evolution of grassroots organizing in Seattle, Washington

NextGEN was conceived at Findhorn with activists from all over the world

NextGEN’s regional development handbook You can get involved immediately, anywhere you are! It

Rainbow Mountain Children’s School

Reekx in Groningen, The Netherlands

The Roombeck School, with two schools and over 100 teachers in Enschede, the Netherlands. They are called “Consent Schools”. Here’s the
English translation.

Smart Nuts Technology

Sunwater NVC trainers in British Columbia, Canada

Télévision du Monde – a production house in Maillen, Belgium

Third Ear Project – communication for life in Port Townsend, Washington

Universite de Regina, Institut français in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada – (for the English version, click on the button in the top right corner.)

Yukon College in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada

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