A modular approach to organizational development – How you benefit from sociocracy 3.0

Jan 17, 2023

Agile, Scrum, Lean Management, Kanban, and so forth have been on everyone’s lips for quite some time. Companies acquire future viability within costly reorganizations and large-scale change projects. But what if there is another way?

What is Sociocracy 3.0?

Unlike most concepts, Sociocracy 3.0 – “S3” in short – does not provide an explicit roadmap. Instead, it is a collection of best practices that have proven helpful in organizations to enhance productivity, collaboration, and satisfaction. The repertoire includes Agile and Lean Thinking methods.

S3 takes an organic, iterative approach to change:
The situation and context of people and organizations are considered. The development takes place gradually instead of suddenly and has a transformative effect on individual employees and on the entire organization. The process begins where the need is greatest, and integrating new methods is done playfully – almost as a kind of experiment. It is not a matter of being able to practice the craft perfectly from the start – the approach “good for now, save enough to try” is sufficient for the beginning. The necessary skills are developed along the way.

S3 follows the view that withholding objections can jeopardize the goals of a team or even the entire organization. Therefore, the principles of equality and consent are followed for decisions: All affected parties are provided with information and equally involved in the decision-making process. Transparency may only be restricted in exceptional cases, for example for reasons of confidentiality.

A guest article by Lena Maucher

Consensus? No, consent!

What makes a minimal difference linguistically, means in practice a completely different approach to making decisions.

Whereas consensus decisions are based on everyone being in favor, a consent
decision is made when there is no opposition.


The impact of this reversal should not be underestimated: To reach consensus, sometimes all affected parties must agree on a compromise. If there is a veto, no decision can be made. This can lead to questionable attempts to resolve the veto by persuading the objecting person. The result is a disparity in the group.


With consent, on the other hand, a proposal is accepted as such without prejudice. Consent exists until someone among those affected raises a serious argumentative objection to the proposal being decided. If an objection is raised, those affected jointly try to integrate the knowledge it contains into the decision-making process. This is done by either modifying the solution or possibly finding completely new alternatives until there are no longer any serious objections.


Why is it worthwhile to engage with Sociocracy 3.0?

S3 offers solutions for organizations when dealing with increasing complexity and a rapidly changing environment. The fundamental advantages of S3 are:


  • Support for employees in dealing with rapidly changing conditions: The methods provided have been proven in practice to have a positive impact on employee engagement, productivity, as well as satisfaction. The required information is provided free of charge and updated regularly.

  • Maximum use of existing knowledge while minimizing wrong decisions: All stakeholders take equal responsibility for ensuring that information important for the success of the company is included in the decision-making process. If an objection is raised, the knowledge it contains is used to optimize the proposal made or to develop a better alternative solution.

  •  Fast decision-making through consent and agile mindset: Decisions are made in the best way possible at the moment. The principle of “good for now, safe enough to try” also applies here. As long as no serious objection is raised, a proposal is considered agreed upon by consent. Any decisions made are continuously reviewed by means of integrated feedback processes and empirical testing and, if necessary, subsequently adjusted.

  •  Need-oriented and continuous organizational development: Starting where the need is the greatest. The necessary skills are learned “along the way.” The pace is determined by those affected.

Who is Sociocracy 3.0 suitable for?

S3 is suitable for the further development of organizations of any size, from small start-ups to large international network organizations, as well as cross-organizational collaborations. In short, for anyone looking for practices and structures that help turn challenges into opportunities for innovation, learning, and development.

Are you considering whether S3 or other self-organized and participatory forms of organization can also be implemented in your company? Or have you already decided to implement it and are still looking for support for a successful implementation?

Feel free to contact us for a non-binding conversation so that we can find out together how we can best support you in your project!

Psst! At Edl Consulting we use S3 ourselves.

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