Dynamic Governance at Living Well Group

Something that makes us unique here at Living Well Group is the way we organize ourselves when it comes to decision-making. We use an approach called Dynamic Governance (DG). DG was created by Gerard Endenburg, an electrical engineer from the Netherlands seeking a type of management that was more productive and inclusive than the typical hierarchical or majority wins decision-making structures found in many organizations. In contrast, DG principles include distributing power equally among members of a group, a hierarchy of “circles” or groups rather than a hierarchy of people, and consent vs. consensus on issues.

At Living Well Group, each residence has groups called circles that meet on a regular basis to discuss policy-related issues together. Each circle has an elected representative that also participates in the next “higher” circle, creating a feedback loop between circles. For example, there is a “general circle” at each location in which administrative team members and managers meet to discuss issues. In that meeting, reps from the “wellness” or caregiving circle, housekeeping, kitchen, and activity circles all attend to bring up relevant ideas from their respective groups.

In order for a group to make a decision, members do not all have to agree, but there does have to be consent given. This puts an emphasis on consent vs. consensus. It can take far longer for a group of people to reach agreement on a solution, than to consent to a solution. Significance is also placed on trial and error. If we can all consent to trying out a certain idea, we can acknowledge that the idea may not work out in the long run and we may need to alter or change it completely. Still, we are taking action and trying out an idea rather than spending a lot of time trying to figure out the perfect solution.

A primary benefit of DG is how it ensures power gets equally distributed among a group of decision-makers. Regardless of what people’s roles are in our organization, when we all sit down together, our voices hold equal weight. We find it enjoyable to participate in DG at Living Well Group, because it helps us ensure that everyone’s voice is heard. Overall, using DG makes us stronger as an organization, enabling us to serve more Vermont elders with compassion and confidence, each and every day.

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