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Value Stream Mapping and Sociocracy 3.0 – a perfect match

I have a long experience in doing Value Stream Mapping (VSM) and I have found out that one of the challenges is to get from analysis into actions to improve your flow and efficiency. When I came across Sociocracy 3.0 it was love at first sight!

So what do I mean with this. Well first of all, VSM is a method for visualizing the current state of your flow or process and it gives you a possibility to calculate its efficiency. I have explained this in my previous blog. What happens then? Well, usually you start analysing and a lot of improvement suggestions comes up. Often the identified improvements are not in the areas that you thought were most inefficient. The flow often span over several different teams or departments and someone else needs to do a change. My experience is that it is difficult to get the improvements you found acted on, especially if you have to motivate another team or department to act on something you found. My new insight in Sociocracy 3.0 gives me hope for the future, now I will definitely use my new findings to actually also improve the flow more efficiently.

Analysis and observations

The first step when identifying improvements is to define what you see and why you think it can be improved. In Sociocracy 3.0 this is called Drivers. It is simply an observation preferably as objective as possible and with a statement what you would like to see instead. The statement should not be a solution more a need. In sociocracy the idea is that those that will act are those that should decide how to act but of course take your need into consideration.

The team knows how

When the driver is identified and explained, in an as objective way as possible, you need to find who should take this on. In Sociocracy this is called Domains. Domains are areas in the organisation accountable for different things. In an organisation that uses Sociocracy as a governance model the Domains are specified with what is required, which decisions can be made within the domain and when the teams within the domain need to ask for permission. The idea here, and what I find very valuable with Sociocracy, is that those that will act and make the change are those that also decides how. In my world this will create more value both in the solution, since they have the deepest knowledge, and also in their motivation and innovation since they are presented with a need and a problem not a solution. It is very demotivating when someone comes with an already defined solution to a problem and your only task is to implement, the room for innovation is then also closed.

Say yes to experiment!

The last step is now to come to an agreement of how to implement our Drivers. Here is where I found love at first sight! In Sociocracy the agreement doesn’t have to be in consensus it is enough with consent. So, what does consent mean?

In Sociocracy collaboration is the key word and consent means in short that we can agree to a solution as an experiment, do things in the absence of reasons not to. We will try and you can be concerned that the experiment will not work but if you don’t find any objection you will not stop the experiment. An objection is that something will harm or create waste in the flow. Those that have an objection will be heard so they can explain how it will harm the flow and then we all update and change the experiment to mitigate that. Those that have concerns will be heard but that will be done after we have made a decision to act. A question you can ask is Is it good enough for now, safe enough to try?

In my experience we seek to get consensus, at least very common in Sweden, and in large organisations this can take very long time and endless meetings without getting into any action at all. So, instead of making our flow that we were analysing more efficient we create waste. We spent a lot of time in meetings and discussions which did not create any value. Using consent is a method to avoid this.


However, very few companies have implemented Sociocracy 3.0 but for me that is not a problem. These models, Drivers, Domains and Consent helps me to visualize how to get from analysis to action:

Driver – explain the problem, as objective as possible, and your need instead of a solution.Screen Shot 2018-09-22 at 10.47.48

Domain – find the team that have impact and knowledge in the problem area, this is hopefully visible in your value stream map.

Consent – let everybody get heard and speak their opinion but don´t let the negative persons stop you. Come to an agreement that an experiment is a way forward.

So, now I am combining Value Stream Mapping with Sociocracy 3.0 to create more efficiency also in the implementation of the improvements. A model that I believe will help me create action instead of waste!

By Cecilia Bjuhr

Agil coach, förändringsledare, scrum master

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