Introduction to SOS

This summary is based on Open SOS Framework 1.0  For more info: Introduction to the Open SOS Framework'



The Self Organising System frameworks enable teams to harness group wisdom while remaining agile and able to respond quickly to emerging situations.


Principles of the Self-Organizing System


1. Regenerative Culture

  • As in nature, a self-organizing ecosystem only growths and thrives when its culture is regenerative. This also is the foundation for groups that use Self-organizing systems methods.

2. Shared Purpose

  • Shared goals and ways of working. We need to agree on the basics in order to organize effectively.

3. Consent-based Decision Making

  • Instead of asking 'Do you approve?' we ask "Do you have an objection?'

4. Distributed Authority

  • People fill roles with defined Mandate (= purpose + domain + accountabilities).
  • They have full authority to make decisions and take action within that Mandate.
  • When making a decision from their role, people are responsible for seeking input from those with experience in the area or those affected by it

5. Mandates

  • Purpose: what will you achieve? 
  • Accountabilities: what do you need to do to achieve that?
  • Make it clear what decisions a team or role can make and what they are accountable for.

6. Communication

  • Speak to those with expertise and those most affected by your decision
  • Seeking advice and providing info when relevant is essential.

7. Transparency

  • Easier to collaborate at scale if clear about:
    • the work you are doing 
    • your mandate
    • mandates of other roles & teams
  • Trust is essential so hang out!



More details to 'get the picture':


mandates and circles


  1. Each circle (or team) has its own Mandate and can define and refine its roles.
  2. For large roles, the circle may create a sub-circle that will in turn self-organise.
  3. This circle structure widens out to the Anchor Circle which contains all circles.
  4. Consent and linking ensure that no individual has power over another, and mitigate the negative features of a hierarchical structure.
  5. Each level of the structure is slightly further removed from the nuts and bolts and take a broader view regarding resource use, purpose and priorities.


  1. Authority is distributed into roles and circles using a collective decision-making process. Mandates empower roles to make operational decisions. 
  2. To add/change a role/circle, a member presents a proposal to resolve an sensed issue, referred to as a tension, and each circle member has the opportunity to object.
  3. Objections are encouraged, as they represent important information that can be integrated to improve the proposal, before it is either accepted or withdrawn.
  4. The aim is to get something workable that allows movement forward.
  5. The decision can be revisited later on, so it doesn’t have to be perfect first time.