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Sociocracy: revolution, chocolate, peace, work - a history


Early history, pacifism and Quakers

Little known in the UK, sociocracy is more widely practiced in mainland Europe, after being developed in depth in the Netherlands several decades ago. First proposed in 1851 by philosopher August Comte, founder of sociology and the Religion of Humanity in response to the French Revolution, and further developed by Lester Frank Ward, prominent early environmentalist and advocate of equal rights for women, and Kees Boeke. Boeke was influenced by the Quaker movement in Britain and married Beatrice Cadbury, of the famous chocolate family; together they became Quaker missionaries and were expelled from Britain during the first world war as pacifists. Boeke was nearly executed as a result of a paper he wrote developing sociocracy, that was found after he was arrested during the second world war in the occupied Netherlands, for harbouring Jews.

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We are in a period where businesses need to change. This may mean developing new models of doing business, adapting to the new economy or becoming a conscious business. This may also mean adapting agile business practices, becoming a lean organisation, or implementing sociocratic governance principles.
This involves a certain degree of change, across the whole organisation.

Yet given that many change programs often do not seems to deliver expected results, it is understandable that leaders feel a certain degree of trepidation towards change.

One of the main causes for poor results in change programs is that the goals of the change are mandated and enforced. Employees are often simply told what changes are required without being consulted, indeed without being involved in the creation of the new system. This produces resistence and resentment, and frustration with the top leaders at the same time