Gaze in the Wind by Etan Pavavalung

Dynamic Governance

As a learning organization, the International Transformative Learning Association endeavors to make decisions and share knowledge and power in a manner that is egalitarian and participatory.  To that end, we use a self-organizing form of governance called Dynamic Governance.  It is also referred to as Sociocracy, which means rule (ocray) by relationships (socio).

The structures and processes of Sociocracy promote transformative learning through its core features: Circles, Links, Consent and Elections. Click on the tabs below to learn more:

The organization is structured through circles, rather than hierarchical lines.

The circle, derived from indigenous thought, reflects equality of voices and a living ontology. Each circle defines its aims and is responsible for leading, doing, and measuring the accomplishment of its aims.

Each circle is double-linked.

The functional leader and an elected representative from each circle link to the next circle(s) to ensure information, ideas, and power flow dynamically throughout the organization.

Each circle makes policy decisions through a consent process.

The process uses “rounds,” where each individual asks questions, reacts, and consents (or not) to a proposal in a manner that provides critical reflection, multiple perspective-taking, and creative problem-solving. Consent requires decisions be equitably created and owned by the group, without marginalization of any minority.

Persons are elected to positions through a dynamic consent process.

The election process requires a transparency of views and opinions. Value, as defined by an organic group process rather than status, determines individuals’ positional role and power.

ITLA’s Action Circles

In 2018, ITLA was seeking a governance model that matched participatory values. At the 2018 International Transformative Learning Conference John Buck delivered a keynote address with Renee´ Owen on sociocracy as an agile governance model that created conditions for transformative learning. Inspired by the potential, the ITLA initiated a Leadership Circle made up of founding and newly invited Stewards to explore a system of dynamic governance based on the sociocracy model. Sociocracy proved to be an effective governance model that enabled ITLA self-organize and to collaborate with partners, sharing knowledge, solving problems, and seeking consent in ways that creates new mutually benefiting futures. Simply described, Sociocracy is a system of governance that seeks to achieve solutions that create harmonious social environments as well as productive organizations.

After a successful period of exploration, ITLA adopted sociocracy as a governance model and organized the ITLA structure into linking semi-autonomous circles. Leadership Circle suggested to the Stewards to form three initial Dynamic/Action Circles: the Stewards Circle, Leadership Circle, and Conference Circle.

Over time, circles have been formed and dissolved in response to the evolving aims and needs of the association.

Current Dynamic Governance Structures

Click on a circle in the interactive diagram below to learn more about the aim(s), domain(s), activities and members of that circle. Or, you find this information in table form at the following link: ITLA Circles, Aims and Domains


ITLA began implementing dynamic governance in 2019, with the help of consultant John Buck. Being truly dynamic, our organizational governance remains a work in progress. Each person who joins ITLA becomes an integral part of the dynamic governance process, organically affecting the warp and weave of the structure of ITLA and adding texture to the culture. We welcome your participation.