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Applying Sociocracy 3.0 Patterns for Implementing Agile Practices


NewsHubSociocracy 3.0 is an open framework which supports collaboration in agile organizations and helps them to continuously improve products and services. The framework provides patterns for activities like coordinating work, effective meetings, governance, and building organizations.
The Sociocracy 3.0 patterns are based on these seven principles:
The Sociocracy 3.0 movement provides resources to learn, practice and teach Sociocracy 3.0. Their aim is to make S3 available to organizations to help them become more effective, resilient and agile.
InfoQ interviewed James Priest and Bernhard Bockelbrink from Sociocracy 3.0 about what Sociocracy 3.0 is, how it relates to agile, how you can apply Sociocracy 3.0 patterns when implementing agile practices, and what will happen next with the Sociocracy 3.0 patterns.
InfoQ: What is Sociocracy 3.0?
James Priest & Bernhard Bockelbrink : Sociocracy 3.0 (a.k.a. S3) is a framework that people can draw on to grow more agile organizations. The framework is comprised of a selection of principles based patterns – definitions, guidelines and flexible processes – that have proven helpful for people when collaborating to achieve shared objectives.
S3 draws on key elements of the “Sociocratic Circle Organization Method” (SCM, a.k.a. Dynamic Governance in the US), agile software development and lean thinking, taking inspiration from many other sources, e.g. the scientific method, Non-Violent Communication, the Core Protocols, Holacracy (another descendant of SCM), psychology, coaching and facilitation techniques.
The patterns are modular yet mutually reinforcing, and compliment an agile (i.e. empirical and hypothesis-driven) approach towards many aspects of organization including: co-creation, organizing work, making and evolving agreements, effective meetings, building organisations, personal development, organisational structure, organisational development, alignment, and last but not least, rolling out and evolving S3 patterns. The patterns are both enabling and constraining in that they offer guidelines for how to go about things, whilst encouraging collaboration.
S3 is about building a culture of collaboration that compliments people’s natural desire for purpose, autonomy and mastery, alongside their basic needs for relationship and sense of belonging.
It’s an invitation for people to pay attention to what is actually happening and needed in the context of why they are collaborating together, and to focus on responding to this, rather than idealizing how things might or should be and trying to predict and control what happens in order to realize this.
Noteworthy in S3 are patterns for proposal forming and decision making, which encourage diversity of perspective and opinion to be shared and considered among those affected by decisions, building respect and trust in each other along the way. The patterns facilitate emergence of novelty (new ideas), continuity (maintenance of whatever is good enough) and safety checks to ensure that decisions appear (at least) safe enough to try and actions safe enough to continue based on what is currently known.
We believe that an effective organisation is one that creates value and flows it where needed, being able to easily change when it’s indicated that this would be helpful to maintain or improve the flow of value.

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