Section 13 of 16
In Progress

Select Mode

Ravi Resck 29 de July de 2021

In a VUCA world, our organizations must have a high capacity to perceive the environment and respond appropriately. That's how we navigate complex systems, rather than detailed plans and control mechanisms. THE dance of changes and keeps going.

The act of changing involves new discoveries, unlearning, but also a lot of discipline. And as the saying goes, practice makes perfect. In the Organic Organization it is no different: we need some roles to keep the “system” running. Self-organization does not happen only with good will.

There are some essential O2 roles needed in each circle, which we call Facilitator, Secretary, External Link and Internal Link.

In another text, we address in greater depth the role of the External Link, responsible for allocating, prioritizing and structuring the circle. Today we will talk about the other 3, who are elected in the select mode.


First of all, let's remember the purpose of the mode, described in the Meta-Agreements:

[…] to choose Circle Members to perform the 3 Essential Roles elected: Facilitator, Secretary and Internal Link.

Very simple, isn't it? There is nothing very complex that the Facilitator must do here. At the end of the text we will talk about 2 possible patterns to make this happen. The most important question is perhaps, why are these roles elected? And why are the other roles not also elected?

A review of the Facilitator, Secretary and Internal Link

Let's take a closer look at the purpose and responsibilities of each of the 3 essential elected roles, and then answer the questions.

Facilitator: The facilitator has only the responsibility to facilitate circle meetings. Its purpose is Healthy Circle Meetings and in line with Meta-Agreements. Basically it is the role that drives the moments of the group defined by the Organic Organization. The purpose is clear in the sense that the facilitator is there to represent agreements. He cannot simply follow a path that goes against the rules of the game. It is important to clarify that a facilitator in the circle need not necessarily be an “agent of change”, or a “professional facilitator”, whose goal is to drive the transition to self-management in the organization. These roles are distinct, although it is possible for the same person to play both. It would be impractical to demand that each circle have an “expert” in O2.

Secretary: The secretary is a support role for the facilitator, with the aim of not making the first one so “full”. The secretary is responsible for scheduling circle meetings and recording exits, such as agreed projects, changes in organizational structure, etc. In case of any conflict of interpretation of the agreements, the secretary is the role responsible for arbitrating, or interpreting the Meta-Agreements and / or the organizational structure.

Internal Link: The purpose of the Inner Link is the same as the Outer Link, which in turn is the same as the circle. It represents the circle in the outer circle, especially in meetings. His responsibilities include providing visibility of health from the inner to the outer circle, as well as understanding the appropriate tensions to deal with and processing in the larger circle.

Why elections?

All 3 roles have a common characteristic: the skills needed to play them are easily observable. To know if a person is doing the role of facilitator or secretary well, you only need to know the O2 Meta-Agreements and participate in a meeting in which they are acting. The same goes for the Inner Link: it is very simple to see if a person is doing a good job representing the circle. That is why an election process is perfectly valid and functional for them.

In addition, elections create a greater balance of power. In the case of the Internal Link, it is dysfunctional to have the same person playing the role of Internal and External Link. This is an explicit rule in Meta Agreements. The reason is that, as in the image in this post, it is difficult to sustain the two radically different perspectives at the same time. The Outer Link is concerned with expressing the purpose of the circle as a whole, according to the constraints of the outer circle. The Inner Link seeks to remove barriers in the outer circle that are disrupting the inner circle.

The Facilitator and the Secretary are also highly authoritative roles. The first cannot be concentrating on the same person who plays the External Link in the same circle.

For any elected role, a member of the circle may request that the Facilitator engage the select mode immediately. Generally, each election has a term of 3 or 6 months (although the O2 Meta Agreements do not prescribe this), which automatically triggers a new election. Rotating roles also allows different people to experience new perspectives.

Remember that only members of the circle are eligible for these roles. That is, people who already play a role in the circle, or are links in the inner circles.

Now that we know what each role does, let's go to the questions!

Why are not all roles elected?

Let's assume that our circle is responsible for developing an application that connects passengers to drivers, Umber (you don't know, I'm sure). In this circle we have Adam as the External Link. Adam has experience with digital product development and has had several roles in his career. As a good External Link, Adam has a good view of the whole.

In addition to Adam, the circle has Ivan, Manoela, Aline and Juan in the circle. The first two are software developers specializing in a technology. Aline is a designer and Juan is a specialist in public transport. Each of them has roles in the circle and were invited by Adam, according to his responsibility as an Outer Link.

Now, imagine that the role of Aline's designer was elected. We would have two problems there. First, anyone in the organization would be eligible, right? We would have to hold an election that goes beyond the barriers of the circle, because the only way to be a member of a circle is to play a role in it. Second, not everyone is able to assess who are good people to play the role. Worse, Ivan and Manoela have no idea what the skills are for a good job in that role. The election would be made on the basis of camaraderie rather than based on a specific evaluation criterion.

Approaches such as Sociocracy 3.0, use elections for all roles. And in return, the description of a role becomes much more complex: it is necessary to add evaluation criteria, necessary skills, levels of experience, etc. In other words, following this path would imply a major O2 redesign.

We believe that organizations demand a certain agility and flexibility in allocation. That's why the role must be simple. Generally, an External Link, as a vision of the whole and a certain experience in the area of activity, manages to make invitations much more assertive for appropriate people to play the right roles.

Defaults to select

There are 2 common patterns that are already in the Library for the select mode:

Integrative Elections: It is the pattern I usually use when there is more time available. Based on sociocratic elections, this step-by-step allows you to select a person for an essential elected role, minimizing group influences. It has the following steps: 1) present paper, 2) initial vote, 3) initial explanation, 4) final vote, 5) final explanation, 5) proposal, 6) round of objections and 7) integration (if there are any objections). More details here.

North Pole: A quick way to make an election. In a circle, all participants raise their hands up. The Facilitator gives everyone time to think about their vote. So he counts 1, 2, 3… and now! Simultaneously, everyone drops their hand pointing to who they would like to vote for. This standard has the disadvantage of not allowing the selection of people who are members of the circle but who for some reason are not present (this is allowed in O2).

Originally written by Davi Gabriel da Silva and published ON HERE