The Holocratic Circle


Thank you for your interest in exploring the Earth Holocracy Proposal’s

advocated organisational model,

The Holocratic Circle


The Holocratic Circle is the proposal’s customised fusion of best-practice ways to achieve the type of egalitarian, transparent, horizontal, ethical, accountable, non-violent, cooperative and efficient self-organisation of the people that is both called for by the pro-democracy movements of the world and required – in order for humanity to make the shift to a life-sustaining and life-fulfilling human civilisation, in time:


The world’s economies and people face hidden dangers to sustainability that demand immediate action. [These dangers] …have the potential to upend social systems, environmental balance, and even entire economies.

“These threats are hidden in the sense that they are commonly overlooked or under-appreciated. But addressing them is critical to building sustainable societies”, notes Ed Groark, Acting President of Worldwatch.

“Each and every one of them has solutions, especially if we commit to an ethic of stewardship, robust citizenship, and a systems approach to addressing the challenges that we face,” says Ed Groark.
Gaelle Gourmelon, April 13, 2015, Press Release: Hidden Threats Imperil Quest for Sustainable Societies Worldwide

There are solutions…

“…if we commit to an ethic of stewardship, robust citizenship, and a systems approach

to addressing the challenges that we face”

Ed Groark, Acting President of Worldwatch

The Articles:

1. Introducing the Holocratic Circle

2. Establishing the Holocratic Circle

3. Holocratic Circle Processes

4. The Blueprint of WE Collaboration Document

5. Holocratic Circle Meetings

6. Consent-based Decisions-Making

7. Making Key Decisions

8. Holocratic Elections

9. Sociocracy: Origins, Features and Applications

10. How Holocracy Differs with Sociocracy

11. Benefits of Circular Organizing

12. Building a New Society: The Inspiring Example of Socialist Cuba

Foreword to Volume Four

The Holocratic Circle is the Earth Holocracy Proposal’s advocated organizational model for the proposed decentralized, participatory democracy: it is for use at all levels of society, embodying numerous critical processes for humanity’s success in meeting the challenges of this pivotal, transformative time.

Introducing the Holocratic Circle

The first article introduces the Holocratic Circle – its development, its distinguishing features, and how its organizational approach safeguards the democratizing process: that is, how its processes and design principles best ensure that the proposed new decentralized ‘participatory democracy’ is self-organized by civil society in an ethics-based, egalitarian, accountable, transparent, harmonious, horizontal, dynamic, efficient, focused and fruitful way.

Establishing the Holocratic Circle

The second article introduces the three documents that are co-created and agreed upon for the foundational establishment of the Holocratic Circle. These are living documents – Social Contracts – that inform the life of a Holocratic Circle, providing the inviolable compass for a Circle’s direction and all its policies, strategies and initiatives, and laying the foundations for the Circle’s transparency. A bit annoying to have to do the groundwork before beginning to build, but the the “speed of trust” and the “focused dynamism of positive, harmonious, egalitarian collaboration” that these founding processes make possible will assuredly and amply reward the time and effort put in.

Holocratic Circle Processes

The third article provides a detailed elaboration of the Holocratic Circle’s five key processes:

1. Establish the Ethical Guidelines for all the Circle’s Activity

In the first process, participants establish the Ethical Guidelines for all the Circle’s activity. The Ethical Guidelines represent the commonly cherished values at the heart of the Circle’s existence, the core reasons for each member’s presence and participation in the Circle: they are the Circle’s uniting principles, and they are inviolable.

2. Define the Circle

In the second process, participants define the Circle – its unique social function, purpose and place within the wider scheme of things, its challenges and opportunities, and also the skills, knowledge and experience that each member brings to the purposes of the Circle. This is a process for collective self awareness. In it members lay down the Circle’s ‘Foundations of Transparency’, collectively presenting all information of vital relevance to the life of the Circle, and establishing mechanisms for ensuring the Circle’s ongoing operational transparency. Within this process, the Circle creates its Blueprint of WE Collaboration Document – a vital process that extends transparency to the personal level so as to establish a positive social environment for harmonious and fruitful collaboration.

3. Clarify the Circle’s Vision

In the third process, the membership co-creates and endorses the Circle’s Vision, which clearly identifies the Circle’s

  • Goals – the membership’s ultimate aspirations for what the Circle might feasibly accomplish, and thereby sets the Circle’s strategic direction/s
  • Priorities – identifying the key areas in which the Circle will focus its attention and energy to further the Circle’s Goals, providing the framework for the cohesion of all the Circle’s diverse activities
  • Intended Outcomes – which identify, in each of the Circle’s priority areas, the major long-term projects, initiatives and ‘new conditions’ that the Circle will pursue.

The Circle’s Intended Outcomes are the Circle’s agreement about what the Circle is going to actually do. They are the tasks for which the Circle is accountable, the Circle’s ‘performance indicators’ / specific agreed goals by which to evaluate the Circle’s performance according to progress made in the agreed direction. (The elimination of hypocrisy, the congruence of word and deed, is a fundamental feature of the proposed new system of participatory democracy.)

The first three Holocratic Circle Processes produce the Circle’s founding documents: its Ethical Guidelines, its Foundations of Transparency, and its Vision – Goals, Priorities and Intended Outcomes. These are inviolable Social Contracts between the Circle’s participants, designed to ensure the integrity and authenticity of the proposed democratization of society.

4. Organize to Deliver

In the fourth process, the Circle organizes itself to further its goals.

The Holocratic Circle’s operational processes are based upon the key design principles of Sociocracy – one of humanity’s best-practice ways to self-organize as equals. This third article in the volume introduces Sociocracy’s design principles. The background of Sociocracy and the Earth Holocracy Proposal’s customized application of its design principles for the Holocratic Circle are the subject matter of articles six through ten.

5. Recognizing and Celebrating Achievements

The fifth and final of the Holocratic Circle Processes – “recognizing and celebrating the efforts and accomplishments of Circle members and the Circle as a whole” refers to both 1) “the attitude of gratitude” or (as the Buddhists call it) “sympathetic joy” as a daily practice and integral component of any team’s high morale, and 2) regular formal events, Celebratory Evenings, that make the standard “end of term awards evening” into a local community cultural event of fine and performance arts as together participants celebrate humanity accomplishing the seemingly impossible – step by step, stone by stone, community by community.

Blueprint of We Collaboration Document

The fourth article presents the Blueprint of We Collaboration Document. In the words of its co-creators Maureen K. McCarthy and Zelle Nelson: “The Blueprint of WE Collaboration Document is a new way to build, sustain and transition business and personal relationships with mutual understanding, trust and respect”. Described as an “idea whose time has come” and its effect as “the speed of trust”, widespread use of the Blueprint of WE Collaboration Document has proven its capacity to facilitate healthier, more resilient and more harmonious relationships – effecting more fruitful and fulfilling collaboration. This article presents the Earth Holocracy Proposal’s customized version of the Blueprint of WE Collaboration Document and the process for its co-creation.

Holocratic Circle Meetings

The fifth article, Holocratic Circle Meetings, introduces the five different types of holocratic meetings, when each is held, and the distinct purpose, issues and agenda for each type. The Regular Meetings of the Holocratic Circle are the Strategy Meetings held quarterly or annually, the Organizational Meetings held monthly, the Tactical Meetings held weekly, and the Status Meetings held daily. Special Meetings are called when and as required for the airing and resolving of tensions. The fifth type of Holocratic Circle “meeting” is the Celebratory Gathering: awards evenings made into local community cultural events, celebrating both the Circle’s achievements in the last period and the cultural creativity of the membership and their immediate community.

Consent-based Decision-Making

The sixth article presents Consent-based Decision-Making – the way a Holocratic Circle makes all its key decisions.

Consent-based decision-making, one of the Four Key Design Principles of Sociocracy, is a means by which to ensure the egalitarian operation of an organization. For Sociocracy, “making decisions by consent” means that collective decisions are made when there is the informed consent of all participants – when the issue and its proposed resolution have been clearly presented to all and there are no “paramount objections” to block the proposal.

The Holocratic Circle of the Earth Holocracy Proposal refines “decision-making by consent” in one very significant way. For the Holocratic Circle, an objection with the power to block a proposal, a “paramount objection”, derives its authority from the Circle’s core, founding documents. To block a proposal, the objector must clearly show how the proposal violates the Core Ethics enshrined in the Circle’s Ethical Guidelines and/or runs counter to (or somehow fails) the Circle’s agreed objectives as clearly identified in the Circle’s Vision: Goals and Intended Outcomes.

Making Key Decisions

The seventh article, Making Key Decisions, presents the procedure for consent-based decision-making in the Circle’s regular Strategy, Organizational and Tactical meetings. It lays out the process for the consideration (and endorsement, referral or rejection) of proposals presented to resolve the issues of particular agenda items. Adherence to the protocols for each “round” in the decision-making process is key to the efficiency of the holocratic meeting – an efficiency that imparts an up-beat atmosphere to the Circle’s meetings, as matters are dealt with both optimally and swiftly.

Holocratic Elections

The eighth article presents the procedure for Holocratic Elections – which replicates Sociocratic ‘elections by consent’: People are chosen for functions and responsibilities. Instead of a simple democratic majority vote, the ballots are discussed in public (who voted for whom and why), people may change their votes, and the facilitator proposes the candidate with the strongest arguments relative to the qualification who then undergoes a consent round. The election is complete, when no objections surface. It is noted how radically this election process departs from the current model of holding public elections for political representatives. The holocratic electoral process means that the proposed lattice for transparent, accountable, genuinely democratic, global cooperation could be established – from the grassroots – as swiftly as a mass social movement.

Sociocracy: Origins, Features and Applications

The ninth article presents background on Sociocracy, the theory behind the Earth Holocracy Proposal’s organizational model and key to an egalitarian (and efficient) society. First defined by Auguste Compte (1798-1857) as “a social system in which all members of a society would participate in their own governance”, the theory was brought to life in the 1960s by Gerard Endenburg who drew upon his knowledge of cybernetics, systems theory, chaos theory, feedback, biological organisms, and quantum phenomenon to design an organizational structure and the dynamic processes that would actualize sociocracy. In the first decades of the 21st century, the results of Endenburg’s interdisciplinary investigation, are enshrined as the ‘key design principles of sociocracy’.

How Holocracy Differs with Sociocracy

The tenth article clarifies ways in which holocracy and sociocracy differ: The proposed holocratic structure does not (as in sociocracy) maintain ultimate power in a central board of directors – as the proposed Earth Holocracy is a “flipped pyramid” where top-down directives come not from a few to the many, but from the many to the few – where the will of the people leads and genuine public servants follow. The holocratic organization’s inversion of power changes the sociocratic system of double-linking (for an organization’s vertical coherence) so that representation is all from the new-top-down. Whereas sociocratic circular organizing is imposed upon an organization’s traditional hierarchical structure, the proposed holocratic self-organization of society is unfolded from the grassroots.

Benefits of Circular Organizing

The Benefits of Circular Organizing is the subject of the volume’s eleventh article: After decades of practical use, the verdict is in: Sociocracy – that is, ethics-based, horizontal, transparent, egalitarian organization – works, and it works well! This article reveals why organizations that have applied the sociocratic model have typically reported productivity increases of 30 to 40 percent, and increased levels of job satisfaction among both workers and managers. Even the noted “disadvantages” of circular organizing are, in fact, the challenges faced on a steep, self-empowering, learning curve.

Building a New Society: The Inspiring Example of Socialist Cuba

The final article is the perfect note with which to complete this volume which sets out the proposal’s advocated organizational model and processes – the proposal’s “key to the world of common aspiration”. The article presents an excerpt from a collection of interviews with Vilma Espin, President of the Federation of Cuban Women from its foundation in 1960 until her death in 2007, and is entitled ‘Building a New Society: The Inspiring Example of Socialist Cuba’.

Espin provides a summary account of Socialist Cuba’s eye-opening achievements (what a difference it makes when the political agenda is the welfare of the people!), and with stirring eloquence describes the core significance of ethical work to individual fulfillment: “In Cuba, a country that is building socialism, the highest aim is human happiness, based on respect for the fundamental rights of each person. That includes full social equality to education, health care, work and professional training, with the chance to employ all of one’s faculties to take an active role in society and to help develop that society, to create the material and spiritual basis for a full, harmonious life, where the highest qualities of both men and women flourish. To reach those aspirations requires work, talent, dedication and willingness from everybody…Work that is free from exploitation does acquire a new dimension, a quality that stimulates and produces satisfaction: to feel that you are useful and are creating your destiny, to project yourself towards the future through your work, to cultivate the future. Our society of workers is fully convinced that through creative work, free of exploitation, well-being and happiness for all will be achieved, and a contribution will be made towards the happiness of other peoples of the world who need our solidarity.”