Learning About S3

Sociocracy 3.0, or S3 for short, is a collection of principle-backed patterns for more effective collaboration. It can be seen as an attempt to reduce hierarchy while at the same time providing an alternative type of structure.

Sociocracy 3.0, or S3 for short, is a collection of principle-backed patterns for more effective collaboration. It can be seen as an attempt to reduce hierarchy while at the same time providing an alternative type of structure.

This week I’m attending a three day workshop about sociocracy 3.0, or just S3 for short. The idea of sociocracy has apparently been around for a very long time. The class I’m attending is focused on “S3”, created by James Priest and others as a continuation of the idea of sociocracy.

Patterns, here, can be explained as previously observed behaviors that have been collected and described for future use. They are linked together in various ways, so that they can complement each other.

I find sociocracy and S3 interesting because it might hold some clues for how to answer some currently important questions, like:

  • “We like self-organizing teams – but how could we get self-organization on a larger, organizational, scale?”
  • “If we remove the traditional organizational power pyramid, what should we replace it with?”
  • “I like the principle of self organization, but I can’t see how.”
  • “How can we be more agile outside of software development – maybe in the whole organization?”

I like the idea of a collection of patterns backed by principles. This is how Scrum started out, and while too many have only experienced Scrum in it’s most ossified form (blindly following a subset of the practices, with none or little focus on the principles) – Scrum is still most interesting when seen as patterns on top of princples. I would actually be very happy if the official description of Scrum could evolve more in the direction of more open patterns, building on the same principles as now – but more about that in a future post, maybe.

In general, I would love to see less discussion about which framework a given organization is using, and more about which patterns they have chosen to adopt and how they are tying them together. S3 fits perfectly into this desired reality, and I look forward to learning more over the coming months and years.

What are you doing to spread the principle of self-organization in your organization?

Learn More About S3

Author: Tobias Fors

I'm a software management consultant. I help other people succeed with software development. In my work, I help teams and organizations be more effective and ship software.

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