Blueprint for a New World Age

The History of Circle Organisation

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Kees Boeke had focused his attention on governance within educational institutions but under the name of Circular Organizing his system has also been developed as a new tool for governance of many different kinds of organizations including public, private, non-profit and community organizations as well as professional associations.

In the 1960s, Boeke challenged Gerard Endenburg, a long-time student and friend, to try applying Sociocracy in Gerard’s firm, Endenburg Electric, a small manufacturing company in the Netherlands. Out of that practical experience came several refinements:

As an engineer, Endenburg had learned that in nature and in machines, if a part cannot function, it stops. It objects. Thinking by analogy, he realized that in human systems, the analogous mechanism was "consent." A person could consent to a decision that affected their ability to function. Or object.

By changing the premise from "agreement" to "no objections," Endenburg made inclusive decision-making more effective. Like parts in other systems, individuals give consent. The boiler doesn't consult with the thermostat about whether they are in "agreement" or not. The boiler works or doesn't work. By using the word "consent" he emphasized the process of resolving individual objections and avoided any religious or emotional connotations.

Further, these objections were vital to the functioning of the whole system. If one part of a system doesn't express its objections as soon as it experiences discomfort, the whole system could suddenly collapse and be irreparable.

Consider the example of the body's organs working in "consent." If one does not object as soon as it begins to fail, like the heart, the whole body will die. Thus objections had to be taken seriously.

Objections, Endenburg realized, not agreements, were the needed and necessary corrections that allowed a group to make good decisions and maintain energetic and harmonious functioning.

We should bear in mind that within the sociocratic structure a group can decide, by consent, to use any other basis for decision-making, for some decisions.

Endenburg’s aim was the introduction of inclusive decision-making because it had proven to be more effective. When people are included in decision-making, they are more committed to the decisions, and equally important, perhaps even more important; the decisions include their information about the course of action that is being decided. Decisions are thus based on all available knowledge and seek to establish harmonious and productive organizations through good decision-making.

The difference between asking for "agreement" and asking for "objections" is profound. Consensus facilitators are more likely to be searching for agreement or to start the discussion by emphasizing agreement. The mindset is to bring people together by emphasizing shared values the value of being in accord with each other.

Sociocratic facilitators specifically look for objections because asking for agreement affects the perception of participants, often adversely. It influences the kinds of solutions they will propose or accept because they fear being viewed as anti-community or uncollegial.

Sociocratic groups understand that to hone a good decision, it must be examined critically and questioned. Objections must be examined carefully in order to make a decision that can resolve all the issues that prompted the need for a decision in the first place.

COG’s HARMONIC GOVERNANCE – A modern variant

Historically, Circle Organisations have been introduced into existing structures; usually those seeking an alternative, non-pyramidal form of governance that offers an ethical, efficient and reliable method of making good and timely decisions.

In the case of COGs, we shared that vision but were looking to build a Circle Organisation from scratch. We saw triple-linking as a perfect way to harness community groups into a cohesive whole and the new communication technologies as the perfect way to facilitate this. To avoid organisational paralysis due to a breakdown of electronic-based communication, emphasis was placed on the localising of individual groups and their linked Circles.

We recognise that the implosion of the old financial, economic, political and social orders provide ‘the 99%’ with opportunities to forge changes earlier generations could barely imagine possible.

Evolving from the original Quaker and sociocratic models, the COG’s system of Harmonic Governance allows us to give and receive effective leadership while remaining peers. It is a system of government in which the interests of all members are served equally; a full governance system that offers unique organizational, decision-making and election processes. It is a fractal and holographic system that remains constant at every level, moving energy upwards from local community to global governance. And it’s a system that can grow very rapidly.

A closing note: We are not trying to establish a global COGs International Inc. – a community umbrella with Copyright protection and Registered Trademarks. That is far from our intention. Rather, this idea, if the time is right, will take on a life of its own. We simply release it to the Universe and wish it ‘God Speed’.