Glossary

A note about language and spelling: In the Global SOS Network we aim to support the top most spoken languages. By default this website uses Oxford International English, which is increasingly recognized as an international standard. As a result, we use the spelling 'organize, organizing, organization' (with a z)
A (3) | C (4) | D (2) | E (3) | G (2) | H (1) | I (2) | L (1) | M (3) | O (2) | P (4) | R (3) | S (4) | T (2) | V (1)
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Accountability
An ongoing activity expected of a Role. Accountabilities can only be added to roles or circles via the governance process. They’re captured as full sentences that begin with an –ing verb. For example, a “Website Maintainer” Role might have an accountability for “Building and maintaining the groups website.”
Action Point (Next Action)
A concrete action that could be taken immediately towards the completion of a Project. All Circle members are required to capture and track Action Points (Next Actions) for their Roles in a tangible form and to regularly review and update them.
Autonomy
An organisation that relies on individuals to administer their own activity.
Circle
A group of Roles that all contribute to the same Purpose. SOS has a number of 'template roles' that can be used. In Holacracy every Circle has “core roles” (e.g. Facilitator, Secretary, Lead Link, and Rep Link) as well as other Roles doing the work. A Circle is treated like a Role with the additional authority to break itself down into sub-Roles.
Coaching
Being able to facilitate a group using XR principles and self-organising methods.
Consent-Based Decision Making
A focus on whether a proposal is safe and unable to cause harm.
Constitution
The documents defining the fundamental rules, processes, and other constructs of the SOS/Holacracy system for organizational governance and operations. Within an social organism running SOS or Holacracy, the Constitution is the formal power-holder in the organization rather than a specific person (e.g. CEO, President, etc.)
Decentralised
The distribution of power and controlling influences over a large number of individuals.
Domain
A Domain is a "property" of the social organism (e.g. asset, function, or process) given to a Role or Circle in order to give it exclusive control of that resource. For example, a “Social Media” Role might own the Domain of “Twitter account.” A Role may impact its own Domain to achieve its Purpose, but may not impact another’s Domain unless given permission.
Election
An integrative process for selecting people to fill a role. Elections follow the Integrative Election Process that includes nominations and the processing of Proposals and Objections.
Empowerment
An emotion when fulfilling a role's purpose.
External Coordinator (Rep Link)
An elected Role used to represent the interests of a sub-Circle to its super-Circle. Also note that the Internal Coordinator (Lead Link) of a Circle may not serve as the External Coordinator (Rep Link) of that Circle. External Coordinators (Rep Links) allow Tensions from the sub-Circle to be processed by the super-Circle when the issue seems to extend beyond the sub-Circle’s current authority.
Governance
An explicit, written set of rules and expectations including the Circles, Roles, Purposes, Accountabilities, Domains, and Policies of the social organism. The Governance of the social organism changes in response to the demands of the environment through the processing of Circle member’s Tensions during Governance Meetings.
Governance Meeting
A recurring meeting to process Tensions related to the Circle’s Governance by making Proposals and raising Objections. Changes can be made to the Circle’s Governance by creating new or making changes to existing Roles, Policies, and Elections.
Holacracy
A set of rules which distinguishes clear roles and responsibilities without granting status. Members at every level work towards the same goal using different pathways.
Implicit (Social) Power
Influence, status, rank or reputation which determines how your voice is heard and power dynamics in a group
Internal Coordinator (Lead Link)
A Role that holds the Purpose of the overall Circle. The Lead Link is responsible for assigning people to Roles that have been created through Governance Meetings. The Lead Link also allocates resources and defines Priorities, Strategies, and Metrics within the Circle.
Leaderful Groups
a decentralised group where leaders rotate regularly, as and when it is needed, with a task that fits an individuals' skillset.
Mandate
When someone has a mandate it means that they have the authority to make decisions. A mandate describes a role and is made up of 'purpose', 'accountabilities' and 'domain' (optional).
Meeting Facilitator
An elected Role with the purpose of facilitating the Circle’s Governance and Tactical meetings in accordance with the rules of the Constitution.
Metrics
Data chosen by the Circle’s Internal Coordinator (Lead Link) to provide visibility into the work of the Circle. For example, a Metric for a “Social Media” Role might be “Number of Twitter followers.” It is up to the Lead Link of the Circle to define and assign relevant metrics to the Roles within that Circle.
Objection
An Objection is a reason why a Governance Proposal will cause harm or move the Circle backward. A Circle member raises an Objection during a Governance Meeting when that member experiences a Tension in response to the Proposal.
Open SOS
Open SOS is a modular international standard for self-organization in groups. This standard allows anyone to co-develop and contribute Open SOS modules or modifications to Open SOS modules The Open SOS Development Framework
Policy
A Policy allows or limits others from impacting a Domain. For example, if a “Social Media” Role owns the Domain of “corporate Twitter account” then a Policy might be enacted to allow an “Events Promotion” Role to make posts to Twitter (e.g. “Events Promotion has permission to post events-related content to the corporate Twitter account”).
Project
A Project is a specific outcome that requires multiple and/or sequential actions to complete. Projects are phrased in the past tense as in, “Budget report completed.” All Circle members are required to capture and track Projects for their Roles in a tangible form and to regularly review and update them.
Proposal
A recommended change to the Circle’s Governance presented by a Circle member during a Governance Meeting. A Proposal is based on the proposer’s felt Tension and may involve as many parts as necessary to resolve that Tension.
Purpose
Clarifies the identity and intention of a Role or Circle. The Purpose orients the action of a Role even if any other explicit Accountabilities, Policies, Strategies, Priorities, or resources have not been defined. In SOS and Holacracy, each role or circle has its clearly defined purpose, which needs to support & contribute to the purpose of the organization.
Regenerative Culture
A society where we are all crew. Decisions are based on skills that can be used in the moment, allowing positive change with a focus on reconnection with other beings.
Role
An organizational entity used to define certain functions of the organization. The definition of a Role includes a Purpose to express, Domain(s) to control, and Accountabilities to perform. The only way for a Role to be created, revised, or destroyed is through the Circle’s Governance process. What is a Role in SOS/Holacracy
Root Framework
In Open SOS, a Root Framework is a collection (package) of Root Modules that define the basic agreements, to which other modules (contributed Open SOS modules) can be added to form a self-organization application such as an SOS Constitution. A Root Framework is like the grammar of a language, serving to maintain consistency of that version of the self-organizing system in its international use. The Open SOS Development Framework
Secretary
An elected Role with the Purpose of aligning Circle Governance and operations with the Constitution through maintaining Circle records, scheduling meetings, and interpreting Governance upon request. The Secretary works actively and collaboratively with the Facilitator during Governance and Tactical Meetings.
Self-Organised
A method of organising where power is distributed through roles and mandates rather than through an individual's status. Those doing the work are the ones who get to make decisions about the work.
Sociocracy
A form of organisation which draws on individuals' strengths to allow continuous improvement.
Strategy
An easy-to-remember rule used to guide Circle member’s decisions. A Strategy defines one potentially valuable activity, emphasis, or goal over another. The Internal Coordinator (Lead Link) is accountable for defining the Strategies of the Circle and may use whatever process he/she feels is appropriate for gathering input from other Circle members.
Tactical Meeting
A recurring meeting for Circle members to surface operational data, updates, and triage Tensions into Projects and Next Actions. Agenda items are created during the meeting while the Facilitator works to get through all items in the allotted time.
Tension
A person’s felt sense that there is a gap between the current reality and a potential future. The Circle processes member’s Tensions during its Governance and Tactical meetings. This approach ensures that Governance and operational changes are driven by real experience rather than theory. What is a Tension