From the SynEARTH Archives. I have argued it is time to move beyond democracy. But, how will we make decisions in a synergic future? Remember synergy means working together. We are seeking the win-win-win-win solution. This is where I win, you win, Life wins, and the Earth wins.
Consensus & Consent
Timothy Wilken, MD
Unanimous Rule Democracy or Synocracy is a much more powerful mechanism of decision making than the majority rule of present day democracy.
Synocracy is a synergic form of government. Synergy means working together—operating together as in Co-Operation—laboring together as in Co-Laboration—acting together as in Co-Action. The goal of synergic union is to accomplish a larger or more difficult task than can be accomplished by individuals working separately.
However Synocracy, which gives us humans the opportunity to accomplish more together than we can accomplish separately, also requires more from us. It requires synergic consensus. For any group of humans, synergic consensus can provide a much more powerful mechanism of decision making than even the best majority rule democracy carefully following Roberts Rules of Order.
Synergic consensus occurs when a group of humans sit as equals and negotiate to reach a decision in which they all win and in which no one loses. In synergic science this is called heterarchy. That means all members of the deciding group sit on the same level as “equals”. All decisions within a truly synergic group are made within “decision heterarchy”. A decision heterarchy is made up of a group of humans with common purpose. The minimum number is 2 the maximum number is presently unknown. I believe the ideal size may be ~six or seven individuals. The group is organized horizontally with all individuals sharing equal authority and equal responsibility.
Most Western humans are familiar with the democratic committee system. It is very different from the decision heterarchy. While both are methods of organizing human individuals to make decisions for group action. Committees are filled with conflict and highly ineffective. In a committee no individual is held responsible for the actions taken by the group. And decision is made by majority ultimatum. A desenting minority member is forced to support the action he voted against or leave the committee. Heterarchy within a synergic group, in contrast organizes individuals to have equal authority to decide on joint action with equal responsibility for the resultant that is produced by that joint action.
Synergic consensus occurs when a group of humans sitting in heterarchy negotiate and reach a decision in which they all win and in which no one loses. In a synergic heterarchy, all members sit on the same level as “equals”. No one has more authority than anyone else. Every one has equal responsibility and equal authority within the heterarchy. The assignment for the heterarchy is to find a plan of action so that all members win. It is the collective responsibility of the entire heterarchy to find this “best” solution. Anyone can propose a plan to accomplish the needs of the group. All problems related to accomplishing the needs would be discussed at length in the heterarchy.
The proposed plan of action for solving a problem is examined by all members of the heterarchy. Anyone can suggest a modification, or even an alternative action to solve the problem. All members of the heterarchy serve as information sources for each other. The heterarchy continues in discussion until a plan of action is found that will work for everyone. When all are in agreement and only then can the plan be implemented. The plan insures that all members of the synergic heterarchy win.
All members are required to veto any plan where they or anyone else would lose. This is not an arbitrary veto. This is a veto to prevent loss. The heterarchy is seeking to win together. Plans causing loss need to modified to plans that insure winning.
Therefore all vetoes are immediately followed by renegotiation to modify the plan of action so that loss can be eliminated.
Synergic consensus is unanimous consensus. Unanimous consensus is protected by the judicious use of the synergic veto. Synergic relationship requires that when any party within a group is losing, the action causing the loss must stop. But again all vetoes are immediately followed by renegotiation to modify the plan of action so that loss can be eliminated, and action can continue.
Thus synergic consensus is a two step process. 1) consensus–to find mutual agreement, and 2) consent–to find specific disagreements and eliminate those through modification and re-negotiation of proposed plans. This second step is initiated by use of the synergic veto.
After I designed Ortegrity, which uses the process of synergic consensus and synergic veto, I learned about Sociocracy. It is from Sociocracy that I have borrowed the term consent for the second phase of synergic consensus.
Originated in the Netherlands in 1945 by Kees Boeke, a Dutch educator and pacifist, Sociocracy was a way to adapt Quaker egalitarian principles to secular organizations.
It uses the decision-making process of consent which is different than most systems of ‘consensus’.
Consent looks for disagreement and uses the reasons for disagreeing to come up with an amended proposal that is within everyone’s limits. Consensus looks for agreement.
If a group wants to paint an outbuilding, consensus would require everyone agreeing on a color. Consent would require everyone defining their limits and then allowing the choice to be made within those limits. The painter might end up with 10 colors that are within everyone’s limits and then choose from those.
Synergic Consensus as described in ORTEGRITY seeks both consensus and consent by utilization of the synergic veto. When any member of the deciding group is in conflict and vetos a proposed plan, they are asked how would they change the proposal to accomodate their objection. Let’s take a deeper look at Sociocracy to see what we can learn. I will mark my annotations with an asterick.
The Four Principles of Sociocracy
1) Governance by Consent: The consent principle says that a decision can only be made when none of the circle members present has a reasoned, substantial objection to making the decision. The consent principle is different than “consensus” and “veto.” With consensus the participants must be “for” the decision. With consent decision-making they must be not against. With many forms of consensus a veto blocks the decision without an argument. With consent decision making, opposition must always be supported with an argument.
* Synergic veto always requires renegotiation to find a plan of action that will solve the group problems without causing loss. Veto is never arbitrary in Ortegrity.
Every decision doesn’t require consent, but consent must exist concerning an agreement to make decisions regularly through another method. Thus, many decisions are not made by consent. Rather, with consent, persons or groups are given the authority to make independent decisions. Consent can also be used with non-human elements.
2) Circle Organization: The organization arranges for a decision making structure, built from mutually double-linked circles, in which consent governs. This decision-making structure includes all members of the organization. Each circle has its own aim, performs the three functions of directing, operating and measuring (feedback), and maintains its own memory system by means of integral education. A good way to evaluate how well a circle is functioning is to use 9-block charting. Every circle formulates its own vision, “mission statement” and aim/objective (which must fit in with the vision, mission and aim of the organization as a whole and with the vision, mission and aim of all the other circles in the organization).
* Circles are equivalent to heterarchies. In ORTEGRITY, they are similar to Decision-Action Tensegrities.
3) Double-Linking: Coupling a circle with the next higher circle is handled through a double link. That is, at least two persons, the supervisor of the circle and at least one representative of the circle, belong to the next higher circle.
* Decision-Action Tensegrities as described in ORTEGRITY are single linked by the Organizers-Organized or the O-O.
Using a double link would add redundancy, security and allow more information to flow between Decison-Action Tensegrities–two heads are better than one, but at a price of decreased efficiency.
4) Sociocratic Elections: Choosing people for functions and/or responsibilities is done by consent after an open discussion. The discussion is very important because it uncovers pertinent information about the members of the circle.
* In Ortegrity, once the primary synergic task is defined and unanimously elected by the heterarchy, then a plan for synergic action must be developed using synergic negotiation. Now the members of the heterarchy will accept hierarchical roles with individual responsibility and authority.
In addition to the four main principles of Sociocracy, there are also these guidelines:
- No secrets may be kept (*Transparency in Ortegrity)
- Everything is open to discussion – limits of an exec’s power, policy decisions, personnel decisions, investment policy, profit distribution, all rulesÖ.
- Everyone has a right to be part of a decision that affects them.
- Every decision may be reexamined at any time
* I am in agreement with most of what I read about Sociocracy. In many ways Sociocracy and Ortegrity are complimentary mechanisms with lots of similarities.
Sociocracy accomodates growth by creation of new circles that are then connected by double linking. Sociocracy can be regarded as a fractal structure, which means that the same patterns occur at different levels in the structure. That is why, once the basics are understood, the procedures at the highest level are as clear as the procedures at the grassroots level. It also doesn’t require very many levels to include a great number of people.
ORTEGRITY grows by shreddng out. If the primary synergic task is within the abilites of the primary Decision-Action Tensegrity to accomplish it,then they accomplish it operating in action-hierarchy. When they are done, they reconfigure back into decision-heterarchy to define their next synergic task.
If however, the synergic task is too large for the primary Decision-Action Tensegrity to accomplish, then part of the primary synergic task will be to make the Ortegrity larger. This is accomplished by having the primary members recruit and organize secondary D-A Tensegrities.
Once all members have agreed to a primary plan of action, they then divide it into smaller secondary plans for distribution among themselves. This results in the self-assignment of tasks. The members of the primary tensegrity, then divide labor through the voluntarily formation of a action-hierarchy to implement the plan. Each “organizer”, the term “manager” is scraped altogether, then takes his task down to the secondary tensegrity which he is responsible for organizing.
The pattern of organization is from the top down. This is not the “other-directed” hierarchy of American Capitalism. The process of organization is from the top down, but the mechanism is “self directed” heterarchy. Only when synergic consensus has been achieved at the higher level can the organizational focus move down to a lower level.
Within the Ortegrity, most “organizers” will function at two levels of tensegrity. Within the primary tensegrity, they are “organized” by the primary “organizer” — the synergic alternative to a CEO. In addition these members are also the “coodinators” of their own secondary tensegrities which they are responsible for organizing.
Within the Ortegrity, those individuals operating at two levels are then both organized and organizers. As members of the primary tensegrity, they are organized by the “primary organizer” — the O’ (called the O prime) and they are also the organizers of their own secondary tensegrities. Each of these is therefore an “organized-organizer” — the O-O (called the double O).
An organization can have any number of Decision-Action Tensegrities. These Decision-Action Tensegrities can be on different levels. Large organizations would include several levels of Decision-Action Tensegrities. These different levels are referred to simply as first level, second level, third level and so on in synergic terminology.
The following illustration is of a base five, level two O.T.. Twenty five employees with one five-member primary DA-Tensegrity and five (five-member) secondary DA-Tensegrities.
The central DA-Tensegrity is the primary Tensegrity it is demarcated with the Omega symbol. It divides the primary tasks of the company into secondary tasks, these are then carried down to the secondary Tensegrities for solution by the O-Os, “organized-organizers”. In this example the O’ functions as both primary organizer and one of the O-Os.
No known system of organization is more flexible and adaptive then Living systems. The Ortegrity is a pattern of life.
The Ortegrity is ultimately flexible. There can be two to twenty individuals within the base D-A Tensegrities. Bases can be regular — all with the same number of members or irregular — all with different numbers of members or any mixture of regular and irregular.
There can be any number of levels, and any number of branches on each level. The system is so powerful that twelve levels looks like enough for most of our needs.
The following chart is based on a base seven regular tensegrity. All DA-Tensegrities would have seven members.
A level 12 Ortegrity would be adequate for organizing the entire humans species within a single organization. Recalling that the larger a tensegrity the more powerful it will is. Synergic science predicts this will also be true for human organizations structured as Ortegrities. Therefore, I would expect a trend towards very large organizations.
Imagine, what could be possible if the entire human species were a single organization. No conflict, no wars, no crimes. Is there anything we could not accomplish?
Synocracy—Unanimous Rule Democracy
Any group of humans organized as an Ortegrity are using synocracy. If a nation of people chose to organize as an ortegrity they would have a synocracy. If all of humanity were organized as an Ortegrity, we would have world wide synocracy.
Synergic consensus is unanimous consensus. I can hear the objections now. “That’s impossible, you will never get everyone in the group to agree.” “Decisions will never get made.” “It is hard enough to get a majority to agree.”
A Japanese business heterarchy is slower at making decisions than a single manager in an American business hierarcy. It takes longer for a group of individuals to discuss, negotiate, and come to agreement than it takes for a single American manager to decide all by himself and order his subordinates to follow his instructions. If the speed of making decisions is the only criteria for choosing a mechanism of decision making then the dictatorship—the rule by one is the clear standout.
However, humanity has moved beyond dictatorships for reasons of fairness and justice. Majority rule democracy is not a rapid decision making process. Individuals within a group deciding—whether the group is a small committee or a large nation choosing a President—are seeking to gain the majority of support. This takes time—sometimes a lot of time. Our national elections often take place over an entire year. The focus is on lining up votes—working deals—in a word—politics. This process is anything but rapid. If all decisions in American businesses were made by majority rule, decision making would probably be even slower than in Japanese companies using heterarchical consensus.
Synergic consensus is not commonly availability to humanity today. We do not yet know how fast it will be at making decisions. But, I predict that unanimous rule democracy will prove faster than majority rule democracy. Synergic consensus elimates conflict. Recall conflict is the stuggle to avoid loss. Conflict is at the very heart of majority rule democracy. The focus of synergic consensus is very different. The entire group knows from the outset that they cannot lose. They are focused on choosing a plan of action that serves the needs of all the members in the group—to choose a plan of action that causes no one to lose. The synergic veto is not invoked capriciously. The only basis for synergic veto is to prevent someone from losing. This is a mechanism to eliminate loss—to choose the very best plan of action for everyone. This may well speed up the process of decison making. In any event regardless of the speed of decision, implimentation will be rapid. There is no conflict. This is a major advantage over majority rule democracy.
Life Utilizes Synergic Consensus
Today, mind and brain scientists have made enormous progress in understanding how the human brain works. There has been many surprises in these recent advances. But the biggest shocker is that the brain doesn’t decide what to do. Decision making is not controlled centrally in the brain. The mind-brain appears to act as a coordination and consensus system for meeting all the needs of the cells, tissues, and organs of the body. The brain doesn’t decide to eat. The cells of the body decide to eat, the brain coordinates their activity and carries out the consensus will.
Our human brain stores the gathered information from the body’s sensing of its environment, the brain presents opportunities for action reflective of both the sensing of environment and the needs and goals of the 40,000,000,000 cells it serves. The brain is not the leader of the body, it is the follower of the body. It is a system that matches needs of the body with its sensing of opportunities to meet these needs by action within the environment. The brain is a ‘synergic government’ that truly serves its constituents—the cells, tissues, and organs that make up the human body. The body is governed by a unanimous rule democracy that has survived millions of years.
The apparent ‘I’ is not real. It is really a ‘we’. We humans have mistaken the self-organization of synergic consensus for the directed organization of an ego decider.
If the human body can using unanimous rule democracy and synergic consensus can organize and coordinate the actions of 40,000,000,000 cells so totally that we identify the whole organism as a single individual, then we humans should be able to use these same mechanisms to organize our species and solve our human problems.
More on Ortegrity. More on Sociocracy. Read a Synergic Version of Robert’s Rules of Order
References and Acknowledgements:
Barbara Hubbard originally coined the term Synocracy to refer to a not yet defined future system of “rule by the people” in a co-Operative society.
Barry Carter the author of Infinite Wealth also independently created the term Synocracy. He writes: “Barbara Marx Hubbard created the term synocracy. Having never read her book, I independently created the synocracy concept by way of mass privatization. When people are owning partners in a mass privatization organization they must participate because owners operate on profit and loss. As mass privatization communities work together we move beyond representative democracy and even beyond consensus democracy to create synergy-ocracy and synthesis-ocracy or synocracy. Infinite Wealth shows mass synocracy to be the new system of social order for the information Age to replace representative democracy. It even replaces the notion of government with the broader notion of social order. Just as learning is driven internally where education is driven externally representative government is external and where as self-organizing mass synocracy is internally driven.”