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Our Vision, Mission, and Aim

The vision of dynamic community governance is a society in which all members are equivalent in their ability to consent to the conditions that govern their lives. We value inclusion, transparency, and creativity. Our mission is to inspire community groups to view conflict as an opportunity to hear all sides so that they can reach their fullest potential. A unique approach, dynamic community governance uses circular power and consent decision making to inspire transformative organizational change.

We provide:

  • Training on basic dynamic community governance skills, advanced facilitation, meeting management, and structural analysis.
  • Monthly networking and peer learning events.
  • Ongoing implementation support.

Background

Dynamic Community Governance is a method of governance that values the input and perspectives of each person, the importance of focusing on aims, and transparency of information. Its principles and methods are derived from the science of cybernetics and the Quaker tradition of peace and education.

"Sociocracy," synonymous with Dynamic Community Governance, was first used in 1850 by French philosopher Auguste Comte, a leader in establishing sociology as a formal study. He called for a society governed by sociologists who could balance humanism and critical analysis to set social and economic policy.

The root word for both "sociology" and "sociocracy" is from the Greek and Latin, "socius" meaning "companion." Sociology, as a combination of "socius" and "logy," the study of, is the study of companions, or social groups. Sociocracy, as "socius" combined with "ocracy," from the Greek "kratien," to rule, means governance by companions.

(Note: Socialism, which advocates centralized ownership and distribution of wealth by the state, is unrelated to sociocracy.)

Beginnings

The first practical application of dynamic governance began in the lead up to World War I. Before the war, Dutch educator Kees Boeke and his wife, English educator Beatrice Cadbury, had been active internationally in peace education, predominantly in the Middle East. When their efforts to convince the Kaiser to adopt more peaceful methods failed, they were deported from Germany and returned to Bilthoven, a small community near Utrecht, in the Netherlands. Needing a school for their children, they founded an experimental school called "Children's Community Workshop," applying their Quaker egalitarian principles to its governance. They also incorporated sociocractic concepts as articulated by Comte and Frank Ward, professor at Brown University and founder of the American Sociology Society. Although the school grew to 400 students, including the Dutch royal princesses, the teachers and students continued to work together as equals to develop and manage the school, making decisions by consensus.

Boeke continued to write about the abuses of power that were becoming evident in democracies and considered sociocracy "democracy as it might be."

Business Application

A graduate of the Boeke-Cadbury school, Dutch engineer Gerard Endenburg developed methods for implementing sociocratic ideals in the governance of  competitive, results-oriented businesses. Endenburg's family owned an electrical engineering company and in 1968 he became managing director. As an engineer, he found it frustrating that he could design remarkably successful electrical and mechanical systems, but in managing people, it seemed impossible to produce satisfactory results for everyone—managers, workers, and investors. He knew from his own experience and Boeke-Cadbury teachings that everyone's needs had to be addressed to create an effective organization.

While teaching radar technology in the Army, Endenburg had become interested in the new science of cybernetics, which focused on the ways that systems self-regulate, communicate, and respond to a changing environment. Could cybernetic principles be applied in business?

In 1970, Endenburg began using the company as a laboratory to experiment with implementation of sociocracy/dynamic governance. His goal was to reproduce the environment of harmony and self-directed achievement that he had experienced at the Boeke-Cadbury school and missed when he attended university and later served in the army. Endenburg established consent (rather than consensus) as the foundation of decision-making and invented the concept of circular power, power that flows both down and up. His experiment succeeded. In the fast-paced, highly competitive world of electrical construction engineering, the company was harmonious, self-regulating, and highly profitable.

In 1984, Endenburg developed new bylaws for the company that transformed Endenburg Electrical Engineering into a "free corporation" without traditional owners in exclusive autocratic control, rather one in which employees, shareholders, and other stakeholders all guide the company by consent. Still a vital company, it is in no danger of hostile takeover by another corporation.

Present Day

In 1978, Endenburg established the Sociocratisch Centrum (later The Sociocracy Group) and began consulting with other organizations that wanted to organize sociocratically. He established a process for certifying sociocracy experts, and recently established the Endenburg Foundation to support sociocracy research and innovative projects. The Center for Dynamic Community Governance grows out of Endenburg's vision to bring egalitarian and effective governance to the world.

Today sociocratically run organizations and companies exist in Australia, Brazil, the United States, Canada, many European counties, Korea, and India. The range of organizations using sociocracy is wide, including national and international associations, building and manufacturing companies, health care services, public school systems, villages, private schools, religious organizations, software companies, residential communities, colleges, veterinary offices, retailers, and consulting firms.

By-Laws (revised June 2017)