Our journey starts with founding partner John Buck, self-titled “official troublemaker,” in search of true democracy, where we the people truly have a voice.
When John graduated from college he was proud that he lived in a democratic country. He liked his first job as a technical writer at Boeing, liked his supervisor, his co-workers, his pay, and his interesting work. He was also distressed as he realized that Boeing was not a bit democratic. He had been inspired by studies of American history and knew that before the civil war soldiers in the military largely elected their officers. He wondered what had happened to that tradition! He certainly couldn’t vote for his boss at Boeing (but would have voted for him if he’d been allowed).
After graduating from Brown University, and working for Boeing, John’s worked for the Federal Aviation Administration and major IT organizations. What John found in the workforce, was nothing close to democracy. A democracy is where we get to elect our leaders. No matter where John went, leaders were always appointed and never elected.
John searched for years for a method that would allow him to elect his boss. Then one day in the Netherlands, where he was giving a presentation, he was lamenting to his hosts how he’d been on a quest to find a method of organizational governance where the boss was elected… and learned that Gerard Endiberg, engineer, had figured it out, was implementing it with success at his company, and was calling it sociocracy.
Gerard was not the creator of sociocracy; he experienced it as a youth, attending a private school after World War II. The private school was based in Quakerism, a way of life known for peace and efficiency, even with large gatherings over 1,000 people.
Kees Boeke, a Quaker, was the founder of Gerard’s school, a revolutionary thinker who wanted education systems to allow children to contribute their ideas and co-work with teachers. Kees borrowed the name “sociocracy” from philosopher August Compte, created with the intent that children would experience and respect democracy. (“Sociocracy” means rule by the “socios” – people who know each other. It is a subset of democracy, which means rule by the “demos” or general mass of people.)
Gerard was an electrical engineer with a keen understanding of power structures and the need for power to circulate and not flow in one direction, as it did in traditional top down, command and control systems. Gerard added cybernetic principles and systems thinking to what he had learned from Kees and gave the world what we know sociocracy to be today.
John was so inspired by what he learned that he did the hard work (when tools like google translate did not exist) of learning Dutch to translate Gerard and Kees’ work into English. If you have encountered sociocracy in any of its forms (holacracy, dynamic community governance, circle method, circle forward, etc…) there is a very good chance John’s work with sociocracy was the catalyst for its creation.
In 2006, John and co-author Sharon Villines, published We the People, Consenting to a Deeper Democracy, the first book in English about sociocracy. In 2007, Governance Alive was founded to help the world know and implement sociocracy. Because it was common for people to hear “socialism” instead of sociocracy, so John coined the term dynamic governance to introduce the concepts.
In 2018, John co-authored another book, based on a decade of experience training and consulting on sociocracy, that taught him, sociocracy is just the beginning. Scalable agile organizations need more than sociocracy, they need a synthesis of beyond budgeting, open space, sociocracy and agile. The acronym BOSSA nova… was born and the book Company Wide Agility with Beyond Budgeting, Open Space, and Sociocracy: Survive and Thrive Disruption … was published.
It’s Not All About John Buck….
“If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together.”
While our journey has talked a lot about John, he will be the first to tell you, that without a supportive and tenacious community around him, Governance Alive would not be where it is today.
In 2008, Monika Megyesi, an expert in mediation and conflict resolution, became a founding partner with John and has been relentless in her quest to co-build an organization made of multi-hearted beings focused on awakening within ourselves, so we are at our strongest in our aim to transform organizational and societal systems. Her work has greatly expanded and deepened the engineering based methodologies that John learned from Gerard Endenburg.
Monika is the CEO of GovernanceAlive, LLC. Under her leadership, its staff and focus are continuing to flower.
If you are part of our journey, you know John and Monika as loving human beings devoted to a thriving earth and an awakened humanity. If you don’t know that, then let’s get to know each other better! Join an upcoming community of practice, engage with us on social and register for one of our upcoming events.
If we are new to you, WELCOME, please introduce yourself, share with us what excites you about our collective aim to use sociocracy (and other social technologies) to transform organizational and societal systems.