Shared governance

In the spirit of walking our talk Starter Culture is a self-governing organisation whose processes, structures and relational agreements are grounded in the collaborative culture that lies at the heart of our approach to change.

The way that we work is largely inspired by what we call a ‘shared governance’ model which is a blend of sociocracy and holacracy that offers a range of processes and structures that seek to support us to:

* Enable dynamic, creative collaborations within which individuals feel a sense of freedom to get creative and take action.  

* Explore ways of working that help us operate more effectively and transformatively in a complex and fast-changing world, responding to what emerges while staying connected to our organisational purpose.

* Nurture, experiment with, and model group culture, processes and structures in which power and decision-making is visible, examined and distributed.

* Invoke and experiment with processes and structures that enable a blend of vertical and horizontal power and decision-making supported by clarity and transparency around roles, accountabilities and where decision-making power lies, and why.

* Be energised and informed by collective intelligence and a diversity of perspectives drawn from across and beyond our Starter Culture family.

* Achieve more clarity about, and skill around; working in circles;  inhabiting roles; emergent strategy; holding healthy flexible boundaries; radical self-responsibility; and collective decision-making processes for the benefit of our team and those with whom we connect and collaborate.

Key elements of shared governance

* A more resilient and agile structure rather than being over-reliant on one or two individuals or roles.  

* Team members take on one or more roles, each of which has a clearly agreed purpose (an intention that the role will pursue or express on behalf of the organisation) and corresponding accountabilities (ongoing activities that the role will enact to manifest in service of its purpose).

* We work through self-organising circles in which all roles in any circle exercise equivalent power and which are guided by the purpose of their individual role, their circle, and Starter Culture as an organisation. 

* Roles and circles have sovereignty to choose the best way to fulfil their purpose and accountabilities, based on a fluid and dynamic process involving gathering information, seeking advice and feedback from those their decisions will impact and making decisions as feels most appropriate to them in their specific role.

* All members of the organisation are required to be transparent about their activities and find timely ways to inform and obtain advice from anyone likely to be impacted by their decisions.

* Through our emergent strategizing we use dynamic steering rather than predict and control, identifying small, incremental steps, taking pragmatic decisions, maintaining momentum and being alert to evidence that something needs to change.

* We use participatory forms of collective decision making in the form of consent based decision-making. 

* We have a relational organisational culture that supports our collaborative working to be generative and transformative and which provides a north star (overarching intention) in regard to ways of relating and collaborating that cultivate the trust that is needed for us to deliver on our organisational purpose.

* We hold healthy flexible boundaries that give teeth to our relational agreements.

As a small team, in reality this all plays out very informally, and nevertheless this underbelly, along with the rest of our organisational culture, provides us with incredibly rich soils that nourish our roots and which is so far bearing delicious collaborative and heart warming fruits.

This video (produced by Université du Nous) gives a sense of the philosophy that underpins our shared governance model - Video: our relationship with power.

You can see more details on how our shared governance model works here

We are deeply grateful to both Universite de Nous and Transition Network for all their support and inspiration around this way of working.