The UUSA Board of Trustees approved the formation of the Sociocracy Support Circle (SSC) as a standing committee of the congregation as an experiment in transforming governance practices. The purpose of the SSC is to help the UUSA’s committees, ministries, teams, groups and circles learn about and practice Sociocracy’s principles, patterns, practices and tools. For more on the SSC see it’s Scope of Purpose document.

According to Sociocracy for All “Sociocracy (or Dynamic Governance) is a governance system, just like democracy or corporate governance methods. It’s best suited for organizations that want to self-govern based on the values of equality. Some people refer to sociocracy as Dynamic Self-Governance or simply Dynamic Governance.” Please see the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Sociocracy Resources page for more information about sociocracy and it’s application in congregations.

Sociocracy at the UUSA

The UUSA Board of Trustees began an experiment using some of Sociocracy’s tools and practices beginning in September 2022. Perhaps the most useful tool was the simple use of “rounds” while discussing complex agenda items. If you have ever been frustrated in committee meetings that feel disorganized or even contentious, simply giving “rounds” a try might help. For guidance see: On Rounds.

Sometimes committee meetings feel a bit chaotic and participants leave exhausted and unclear about what was achieved. Using an informal and unstructured meeting format might work for small groups of people who know each other well. Larger committees and especially those in which new people are joining need more structure. Sociocracy’s meeting format is a useful way to ensure clarity and transparency. The UUSA Board of Trustees has employed check-in’s, the ADMIN tool, consent to agenda, clarifying the various agenda items as reports, exploration, or decisions, and check-out’s.

On December 3, 2022, the following UUSA members and committed friends attended a national webinar on Sociocracy organized by the UUA: Anne Moore, John Gerber, Carolyn Cave, Janis Gray, Naomi Yanis, Rev. Rachael Hayes, Pat Brinkman, Rodger Mattlage, Maura Whalen, MaryBeth Seminario, Ellen Pile, Deeya Pavelle, Susan Rice, Jess Murphy, Louise Grosslein, Ollie MacFadden. The UUSA was the largest group from a single congregation. The following is the introduction to the webinar.

For more on the webinar, including stories from congregations currently making a transition to governance by sociocracy, see: Widening the Circle of Governance.

Learning to “do” Sociocracy

One of the first activities of the SSC was the sponsorship of a Sociocracy Empowered Learning Circle, which is 8 hours of small group training. The following UUSA members were involved: Eric Murphy, Jess Murphy, Louise Grosslein, John Gerber, Naomi Yanis, Susan Rice, Pat Brinkman, and Rodger Mattlage. One of the things we learned was that there is a difference between training (learning to “do” sociocracy) and education (learning “about” sociocracy). For opportunities to practice “doing” sociocracy, we recommend any one start with the free workshops offered by Sociocracy for All. Then contact the Sociocracy Support Circle for help using the tools of sociocracy in your own UUSA group.

The SSC is available to help committees, ministries, groups, circles and teams of the UUSA practice with Sociocracy Tools. UUSA leaders are welcome to contact the Secretary of the SSC to learn more.

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