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TobTalks 6: the art of sociocracy 3.0 in decision-making

Jef Cumps, co-founder of the agile consultancy company iLean, reveals an insightful way of using collective intelligence in the decision-making process: sociocracy 3.0.

TobTalks 6: the art of sociocracy 3.0 in decision-making

Our sixth edition of TobTalks took us back to basics. How do we make decisions effectively as an organisation and in teams? According to iLean co-founder and agile consultant Jef Cumps, the answer is – or at least should be – sociocracy 3.0. This form of dynamic governance relies on collective intelligence and consent. The result was overwhelming: an inspirational and practical session that gave all attending Tobians ample food for thought.
‘Sociocracy’ sounds like a political movement dating back to Ancient Greece, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is a burning – albeit not always addressed – issue for all present-day companies. More importantly, it is what distinguishes agile and resilient organisations from the rest, by providing a modular set of principles and patterns for decision-making.

Consent vs. consensus

Undoubtedly, one of the major keywords in sociocracy 3.0 is ‘consent’, as opposed to consensus. The latter is when all decision-makers agree upon a certain decision, leaving no-one behind. Often, that leads to needlessly long discussions and unsatisfactory compromises. “Consent has a different vibe to it,” says Jef Cumps. “Basically, a decision is taken when nobody objects to it. In other words, not everybody has to be in favour, but enough to be able to live with it.” What if someone is opposed to the proposal? Then he or she elaborates and the issue is dealt with in the group. This may lead to a change in the original decision, or be resolved by explaining the proposal more effectively.

The benefits of sociocracy 3.0

All participants realise that mutual consent is needed to make decisions. This creates a shared responsibility and more support once the idea is launched. As a team, you inspire collective intelligence and speed up the whole process. When asked to put his money where his mouth was, Jef Cumps put a group of Tobians to the test. He guided them through a real-life demo of consent-based decision-making with practical tips and tricks. An inspirational experience that provided the room with plenty to talk about.

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