This document defines the constitution for Animal Rebellion, which is a self-organising system for Animal Rebellion teams, which:
interfaces support/coordinates/aligns with local/affinity groups.
interfaces to align and coordinate with other Animal Rebellion initiatives at an international level.
is fractal and has the capacity to grow organically.
The following 3 features of this SOS mean that power is shifted out of people and into the processes of the system itself because:
the SOS is defined by a written down rule-set: this constitution
the rules in this constitution apply to everyone in the same way, there are no privileged classes, no exceptions
no single person has person power/authority over another person or the system itself
To ensure coherence, coordination and consistency of the Animal Rebellion Organism, membership of any Animal Rebellion Team (included in this structure) requires an agreement to work within this system.
It’s not complete or perfect, it’s always a work in progress, from which feedback can be gathered so that the system can evolve as needed.
This system is inspired by and uses some features of Holacracy® practice, and is also influenced by other methods of self-organisation. It is important to understand that this is not Holacracy and that Animal Rebellion is not practicing Holacracy; and to clearly and consistently communicate this message.
The last page gives some of the rationale for this system.
Major changes to this document need to be approved by the Animal Rebellion Anchor Circle.
The system is founded on the principle of distributed authority where decisions are decentralised to individuals in roles with clear mandates for those decisions. When someone has a mandate in a role it means that they have the authority to make a decision/do something; and at the same time it sets an expectation which others can have of that role-holder.
Only use group decision-making when it’s necessary and not by default! It’s perhaps the most expensive (in terms of time, and if not done well can also expend motivation too) way of making decisions and can slow things down a lot. While it’s important at times to tap into the collective intelligence of a team and/or get buy-in for decisions, it’s not always the best way to be making decisions, and there are other ways to achieve those things.
Transparency– the clearer you can be about:
the work you are doing, your mandate and the mandates of other roles and all teams; then the easier it will be to collaborate at scale.
This system is designed to manage the polarity between two different ways of operating, as needed in different situations :
being able to act quickly and be responsive to fast-changing situations when needed and integrating wisdom of multiple perspectives and harnessing collective intelligence when needed.
Information Sharing: the organisation’s structure and other parts of this system means that information is shared in team meetings at appropriate levels of scale, plus can travel between different levels of scale as needed
TRAINING & SUPPORT FOR HOW TO USE THE SYSTEM
Don’t be put off by all of this text! It’s not actually that complicated and is easy enough to get the hang of it once you start to actually use it. If you’d rather have someone talk it through with you to help you understand it or support with how to make it work in your team you can ask the Self-Organising System team via firstname.lastname@example.org
This videointroduces how the structure of the system looks and works (6 mins)
Other training videos and resources are to follow; email email@example.com with any specific requests.
PARTS OF THE SYSTEM
1. Animal Rebellion Organism Structure
The structure of Animal Rebellion is in units of teams (also sometimes called groups), which are clustered into circles of multiple teams.
Teams are autonomous & self-governing. This means that it’s up to the teams how they do the work to achieve their mandate.
Each team has its own mandate which needs to have at least one, or any combination of the following:
purpose– the reason the team exists/what it is working towards, as a smaller part of the purpose of the whole organism
accountabilities which define the ongoing work that needs to be done by a team, what that team is accountable for, and expectations others can have of a team
domain– which conveys ownership. So for example, if a team owns the domain of the website, it means no other person or team can change the website without owning the team’s permission. Could also apply to things like a Social Media account, contact list, bank account, script for a talk.
The teams are in a structure where larger teams have sub-teams within them, and sub-teams can have their own sub-teams and so on, like Russian dolls. A sub-team is a whole, autonomous team in its own right, while also being a part of a larger team (this is the same structure as found in natural systems and is called a holarchy). Here’s a way to see the teams/circles in the current structure, along with their mandates.
Each team should have one or two named coordinators (internal & external) with mandates as described here, and:
If a team is a sub-team of a larger team, the external coordinator is a member of both the broader team and sub-team.
The external coordinator can nominate someone to attend the larger team in their place who represents the sub team as the external coordinator.
This means that information and tensions can flow in both ways, both into and out of all teams and be addressed at the appropriate level of scale.
The Animal Rebellion structure should be published & updated so that everyone can see:
the structure and how the teams fit together
mandates for each team
the 2 coordinators of each team
a contact email address for each team
any mandates for roles in a team, plus who is filling those roles
Projects emerge which don’t seem to fit into the structure: the circles aren’t boxes to be boxed in by! If a project arises which involves work of people from multiple circles, one person should take the lead on the project (ideally with a mandate which covers it) and then create an ad-hoc project team to do the work with people from wherever relevant. This team can autonomously self-organise and doesn’t need to be represented in the structure.
By default, all resources and strategies are owned and defined by the Anchor Circle unless specifically delegated to another role/team/circle.
Creating Internal Roles: it is recommended that teams define their own internal roles inside their teams with clear mandates for all ongoing work within a team. This increases clarity and reduces potential confusion about who is doing what.This template shows an example and can be downloaded to create internal roles for a team
When a team defines roles with mandates, the authority for what is included in the mandates is then devolved from the team level into a role. This means that whatever is in those mandates no longer gets decided at a team level, instead it gets decided by the role-holder
Or teams may choose to not define any roles. This is the least preferable option since it reduces clarity about who will do what and has the potential for more confusion
Filling Roles: Here’s 3 options to decide who fills which roles. It’s recommended to do them in this order:
people volunteer for the roles they want to fill (authority is earned by taking action)
if there are more volunteers than opportunities to fill roles there are two options for electing someone into a role:
In some cases it’s appropriate for a single role to be filled by multiple people (e.g. meeting facilitator). In others it may not be.
In this system authority is earned; people earn the right to be a member of a team and attend meetings if they are actively filling a role and working on at least one project for that team as seen on a team’s project board (if using a project board). This prevents meetings being clogged up by people attending and sharing their views about how things should happen if they aren’t actually involved in any work.
Anyone can call for re-election of any coordinator role at any time, though there are times when a conflict resolution process may be more appropriate.
3. Four Options for Decision-making
Different issues require different ways of making decisions; the following ways of making decisions are to be used for the following situations:
decisions to define mandates for roles within a team or for a sub-team use the process below in #4 below, because multiple perspectives need to be integrated when distributing authority within a team into roles
when a role has a mandate, the role holder makes the decision about any issues covered by the mandate because the mandate conveys authority to take actions and make decisions. A role-holder may choose to get no input at all/or lots of input/or anywhere in between. One tried, tested and recommended method of a role-holder getting input into a decision they need to make is to use the Advice Process (this process is explained here).
for any other decisions– the person facilitating the meeting decides which decision-making process to use for each point. Here’s some of the most common options : simply seek agreement from team members. If agreement can’t be reached, take a vote (either simple majority or require a specific majority like 2/3) Integrative Decision Making
For any of the above options, if a decision gets stuck and can’t be made any other way and there is either :
a reason the decision needs to be made in the current meeting or if an item is being processed in its third meeting without a decision having been able to be made; then the decision can be made by simple majority vote. If the vote is tied, then the casting vote is made by the External Coordinator. If the External Coordinator isn’t present then the casting vote passes to the Internal Coordinator. If neither coordinators are present then one person is chosen at random to give the casting vote.
For more support with facilitating decision-making, ask the SOS team at firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Defining Mandates for Roles within a team
A ‘team Mandate’ can be broken down into smaller ‘Role Mandates’, so that decisions can be made by individual role-holders rather than at a team level
Mandates for any defined roles should be included in the Animal Rebellion structure document so there’s visibility about which roles exist in all teams
For this type of collective decision this adaptation of Integrative Decision Making (from Holacracy) must be used. Collective decisions can be made at any formal meeting of a circle. There are no attendee/quorum restrictions. It requires a Facilitator to facilitate the following process:
The short version for what seems a minor or non-contentious proposal the Facilitator says:
can I ask if there are any clarifications or objections that would prevent your non-objection to this proposal, otherwise we’ll go straight to a show of hands for no objection
The longer version for what seems a more major or contentious proposal:
A person Presents a Proposal for a new role or new sub-team, or change to an existing one
Whoever wants to can ask Clarifying Questions; only questions to better understand the proposal should be allowed. No reactions
Reaction Round: each person, one at a time gives their reaction to the proposal. No discussion or cross talk. Proposer does not react
Amend & Clarify: proposer can amend the proposal if they want to based on questions/reactions. They can also clarify their intent if they want to. Both of these are optional. Only proposer speaks at this step; no other discussion or feedback
Objection Round: the facilitator asks each person if they have any objection to the proposal (which is different to if they like it/agree to it/are happy with it). If someone has an objection the facilitator writes it down where everyone can see and then tests it. For an objection to be valid, all of the following conditions must apply :
The objection must be a reason that the proposal causes harm; where harm is defined as degrading the capacity of the circle to achieve its mandate.
The objection must be created by the proposal and not exist already.
The objector must be certain the harm will happen and give a reason how they know this, or if they aren’t certain, they must give a reason why it’s not safe enough to try.
The objector must be able to explain how the proposal will limit them from achieving the mandate of one of their roles.
If there are no objections, or if there are objections but they are not valid, then the proposal is accepted and recorded in the record of mandates.
If there are valid objections which meet the criteria above, then you move to Integration where the proposal gets adapted so that the objection no longer exists and the original intention of the proposer is still met.
After Integration you move back to another Objection Round for the integrated proposal.
Once there are no further objections the proposal is accepted and it is:
recorded in the record of mandates for that circle
emailed to email@example.com so it can be included on the Glassfrog.
If any changes are being made to mandates, all circle members need to be given reasonable notice of meeting time & date of the meeting.
5. Defining Mandates for Sub-teams within a team
To create/amend mandates for sub-teams the same process described above for creating roles should be used.
6. Policies: to create constraints which limit the authority given to roles/circles by mandates
A system which only has authority distributed into roles/circles could easily create chaos and fragmentation if there is nothing to constrain the distributed authority with and which creates alignment when needed; to prevent everyone just going off doing their own thing. A Policy is a specific expectation which either grants or restricts authority outside of the mandates of roles/circles
For example, if someone is giving the Animal Rebellion talk in a community, there needs to be something in place which restricts how much they can change the talk, if at all, while still keeping it as an Animal Rebellion talk. This restriction could be done by this policy: ‘Animal Rebellion talks may only be given as Animal Rebellion talks if they follow the format as defined by x role’
A policy that is created within a circle applies to all people/work/roles within that circle and any sub-circles within it, but not outside of that circle. For it to apply outside of the circle that created it, it would need to be agreed in the broader circle/s.
A policy can only be decided in a circle using the same decision-making process as to create/amend roles in Section 4 (together the mandates of roles/circles and policies is called Governance).
Format: It is recommended that meetings happen using this format or something like it, with a Facilitator (which is an adaptation of the Holacracy Tactical Meeting). Encourage team members to add agenda items prior to the meeting, though items can always be added during a meeting, either at the start or later on.
10 breaths: group closes their eyes (if comfortable) and takes 10 conscious breaths to ground themselves in the meeting
Minute Silence in solidarity with Animals: See script here
Information sharing: just for sharing information, no discussion in these steps, if anyone wants to discuss anything from this information then add an item to the agenda
review of action points from last meeting; if any person wants to follow up on any action point from a previous meeting (whether it has been completed or not), it is up to them to do so, either adding an agenda item or following up outside of a meeting
Process each agenda point one at a time, don’t mix them up
Closing round (check out)
Minutes: it is recommended to keep minutes and meeting outputs of each team as a google doc, recording any Action Points all in one place so they can be reviewed if needed
Project Board: it is recommended to have a table at the top of your team’s Minutes which shows all the projects that team members are working on. These can be used for project updates, and people can update this at any time, either inside or outside of a meeting. Recommendation: Trello.
All circle members are entitled to attend meetings of that circle, but there’s no obligation for them to do so
There is no required quorum or number of people for a circle meeting to happen, it happens with whoever shows up unless otherwise specified in a policy that a certain number or mix of people are required to be there for a meeting to be quorate. However, reasonable notice is required to be given to all team/circle members before a meeting happens by whoever schedules the meeting
A circle member may invite someone who isn’t a member of the circle to attend a meeting to process a specific tension and the guest may only participate for the processing of that specific tension
8. Documentation for Teams
Each Animal Rebellion Team should publish and maintain a single, short, key overview document which:
tensions about how things are working in Animal Rebellion that could be resolved by changes to this constitution, please contact Animal Rebellion’s Self Organising System Team.
Feedback about anything in here or about how this Self-Organising System is working in Animal Rebellion, or any questions about how to apply this to your situation, then please contact Animal Rebellion’s Self Organising System Team.
Mandate of the Animal Rebellion Anchor Circle
Defining the purpose & strategy of Animal Rebellion, or defining the processes by which these are decided
Defining mandates of all roles/teams/circles in the Animal Rebellion Anchor Circle and policies
Deciding on the use of resources between roles/teams/circles in the Animal Rebellion Anchor Circle where not decided elsewhere
Criteria & Conditions for Membership of a Working GroupOther countries may want to adopt their own version of this policy to create a boundary for membership around their national working groups. It isn’t included in the constitution as different countries may want to do this in different ways and create their own custom versions. ___________________________
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