Friday, February 08, 2013
John Buck: Dynamic Self Governance - Interview
Dynamic self governance expert John Buck, CEO of the Sociocracy Consulting Group, associate at Creative Learning Solutions, Inc, and author of We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about the principle of dynamic self governance, and about the Dynamic Self-Governance: Become More Effective Together workshop and conference.
Thanks to John Buck for taking the time to share his thoughtful responses to the interview questions. They are greatly appreciated.
What was the background to creating this workshop on the Dynamic Self-Governance: Become More Effective Together and how is it organized?
John Buck: Dynamic self-governance (DSG) emerged about 30 years ago from experiments in The Netherlands in Endenburg Elektrotechniek, Inc., a company that serves as a living management science laboratory while doing heavy electrical installation work for buildings, oil rigs, ships, and other large projects. The Sociocracy Group, an international firm spun off from Endenburg Elektrotechniek, offers workshops such as the one in Washington, DC, through affiliates around the world.
What does the concept of dynamic self governance mean?
John Buck: The Dutch name for the method, sociocracy, was coined by social scientist August Compte in the 1800s. It means "rule by the socios" - that is, people who have a social relationship with each other. Socios in Spanish means partner. In contrast, democracy means "rule by the demos" - that is, the general mass of people. Dynamic self-governance (DSG) means the same thing as sociocracy, and we have chosen to use it in the U.S. and Canada rather than sociocracy because it is more descriptive and easier to say! DSG is "a way to guide ourselves in a world that is constantly changing."
How does the idea of dynamic self governance help leaders make better decision?
John Buck: Leaders like to use DSG because it gives them a process that can think smarter than they can as individual leaders. Leaders don't share or diminish their power. Rather they reconfigure their power during policy formation. DSG procedures create a "many-mind" decision process that has been used successfully across nonprofit and business sectors in many countries.
Such sayings as “It’s lonely at the top” or “The buck stops here” reflect an assumption that ultimate authority to make decisions lies with one person. Now imagine that you are a CEO who no longer manages your company--rather you simply steer creativity. The loneliness at the top goes away as well as the constant pressure that pushes decisions upward to you, challenging your ability to delegate. Current corporate governance is seldom if ever so elegant.
In the Washington, DC workshop, participants will work in small groups to experience key structural principles and the new DSG decision-making methods that allow people to work together to make collective decisions efficiently.
John Buck (photo left)
Meetings are often unproductive in many organizations. How can this concept aid in making meetings more productive for everyone?
John Buck: The phrase "almost magical" seems to pop up a lot when people describe their experiences with making decisions in a DSG circle. Everything is organized around the aim or purpose of the organization, that is the organization's deepest potential. This focus lets everyone sense gaps between that purpose and what is and work together to resolve the tensions around those gaps. Every voice gets heard and respected. The processes gently handle the politics not related to purpose that so often prevent satisfying and productive meetings.
How does the dynamic self governance approach establish accountability and the ability to measure results objectively?
John Buck: DSG distributes power throughout an organization. It first asks the organization to lay out how it accomplishes its aim. It asks the organization to specify for each step in its process how it will measure whether the step is being accomplished successfully. Then defines roles with the accountability and authority to act on what needs to be done and what needs to be measured and adjusted. No one else can second guess that authority. The result is systems that are easy to guide and are so dynamic that they adjust to changing and often surprising conditions. As one DSG leader says, "I don't manage the organization anymore. I just steer the creativity."
Is the principle of dynamic self governance applicable to today's most pressing business and economic challenges?
John Buck: A complete list of today's pressing business and economic challenges AND opportunities would certainly be an exciting document. They go hand-in-hand. In the past we''ve gotten our sense of security from sticking to fixed patterns that have proved successful in the past. That's what happened to Kodak and Borders Books and General Motors. They felt secure until they suddenly collapsed. DSG helps us meet our need for security from our ability to steer our way through rapidly changing times punctuated by surprising, even shocking events.
Today's wild technology explosion is highly destabilizing. For example, there would not be an environmental crisis if we hadn't invented gas engines and medical technology that's unleashed a population explosion. We need DSG to give us the tools to cope with and prosper from that instability.
Where is the workshop held and how can a person get involved in participation in this workshop?
John Buck: The workshop will be held in Washington, DC on February 26-27, 2013. Go to www.sociocracyconsulting.com for more information and registration.
What is next for John Buck?
John Buck: I'm excited about new initiatives we have going for 2013. The next development for DSG is organizing collections of organizations for collective impact. That's how whole towns and regions can get together to improve their lives from a whole systems perspective - not just government but also businesses, nonprofits, schools, churches, neighborhoods all handling their piece of the society in a coordinated way. On the frontier proud and independent farmers knew how to get together for a barn raising or to build a local town hall. With DSG processes and tools, the many proud and independent organizations that make up our society can gather do the same thing and on a bigger scale.
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