principles for founding sol community, as of march 1997

In September 2009, the “Group of 25” produced the Future of SoL White Paper. This white paper contains the following Peter Senge foreword about the principles for founding SoL:

The roots of any democratic system of governance are governing ideas that have power. In some ways the definition of democracy hinges on the relative power and authority that rests with individuals versus explicit governing ideas. For example, although most corporations have statements of values or principles, few executives are replaced because they violate these ideas, and it is rare that someone with little formal authority can safely challenge someone with more authority based on questions of conduct vis a vis the espoused values.  In this sense, such espoused ideals are more good or nice ideas than truly being governing ideas, ideas that actually shape how actions are taken.

The founding of SoL took almost two years and consumed over 500 person-days of face to face meetings, and many more telephone conference calls, among twenty or so individuals who became a core of the original consultant-, practitioner- and research- members. A good deal of this time went in to articulating a set of principles that would guide the community. They fall into two groupings: (1) guiding ideas that articulate core beliefs, about learning, organizations and today’s world; and (2) ways of operating that embody how we intend to work with and be with one another as we work toward our guiding ideas.

I believe these have stood well the test of time, and should be reviewed and incorporated in an updated form in the governance documents for SoL as it is re-launched as a global network.  They also can serve as a point of reference for articulating the purpose, mission and vision of the new global network. It is for this reason that they are included here.

From time to time, we have used shortened versions of this list that included about 8 principles but the list below is the full list as they were written in the SoL Constitution.

Peter Senge August 23, 2009