The Common Sense Framework for Organizations and Teams

See the bigger picture – identify what’s needed – prioritize where to start.

Through 10 essential principles, this Common Sense Framework for Organizations (short “CSF”) helps you grow and maintain organizations where BOTH the people and the organization thrive.

The Framework lays out the big picture of what to consider to achieve this, and suggests what specific practices and tools can help you to get there.

Each principle applies both to teams, and to the organization as a whole.

Two Principles for Orientation

Principle 1 – Clarify Purpose: Ensure that everyone understands who the organization or team is serving, why and to what end, so that everyone is able to focus and unite their efforts on achieving that purpose.

Principle 2 – Develop Strategy: Develop a strategy to guide value creation, so that everyone shares a common direction, and strategy is adapted as necessary to achieve the purpose.

Three Principles for Navigation

Principle 3 – Focus on Value: Focus your daily work on value delivery, so that the stuff that needs doing to achieve your purpose is done.

Principle 4 – Sense & Respond: Identify, prioritize and respond to impediments and opportunities, so that you can adapt or pivot as necessary and improve where you can.

Principle 5 – Run Experiments: Run experiments to address complex challenges, so that you learn how to move closer to where you want to be.

Two Principles for Structure

Principle 6 – Enable Autonomy: Free individuals and teams up to create value as autonomously as possible, so that you can deliver value fast and avoid unnecessary dependencies.

Principle 7 – Collaborate on Dependencies: Co-create and evolve a coherent system to deal with all dependencies, so that you deliver value fast when dependencies cannot be avoided.

Three Principles for Transformation

Principle 8 – Invest in Learning: Support everyone in developing competence and skill, so that their contribution remains valuable and the organization can evolve.

Principle 9 – Intentionally Develop Culture: Collaborate on fostering a cooperative culture where everyone can achieve their fuller potential, so that you build and maintain an engaging and productive work environment.

Principle 10 – Build Shared Mental Models: Invest in building shared mental models, so that everyone can engage in meaningful dialogue about what’s happening and what needs to be done, and in the process deepen their understanding of how the organization works, what it does and why.

Where to Start?

Each principle supports a specific outcome. To determine where to start in your organization or team, take a look at the outcomes for each principle (the text after “so that”) and reflect on where your greatest need lies at the moment. In any case, check that you are clear enough on your organization’s or team’s purpose and strategy before you proceed.

In the illustration you can see that some of the principles are more closely related than others, which might further inform you of where to start.

In the booklet you can download below, you will find a list of suggestions for things you can try. These suggestions are taken from the menu of patterns contained in Sociocracy 3.0. For now we only added the most essential patterns that support each principle, in future versions of this framework we will include even more patterns.


Explore the Common Sense Framework

We have compiled several resources to help you get started with the Common Sense Framework in your organization or team. All resources are shared under a Creative Commons ShareAlike License.

Common Sense Framework Booklet

A brief overview over the Common Sense Framework with suggestions for things you can try in your organization or team for each principle.

Common Sense Framework Slide Deck

A a slide deck for presenting the Common Sense Framework.

Common Sense Framework Cards

A printable deck of cards for working with the Common Sense Framework.

If You Are Familiar with Sociocracy 3.0 (S3)

Through our work describing, explaining and helping people apply S3 patterns to solve problems and respond to opportunities in teams and organizations, we gained a deeper understanding of the underlying common sense that guides people toward building more successful organizations.

The more people become aware of this common sense, the more they can use it to develop ways together that help both them, and the organization, to thrive.

The Common Sense Framework helps to make S3 more accessible to people: The 10 principles are easy to grasp and remember, and provide a simple navigation system through the 74 patterns that guides people on where to start, and which patterns to use.

Dive into Sociocracy 3.0

To help you discover, apply and teach the 70+ patterns in Sociocracy 3.0 we offer a growing variety of free resources about Sociocracy 3.0, which are translated by the community into several different languages.