The term Quakers is commonly used to refer to members of the Religious Society of Friends. This society is a religious movement founded in England in the 17th century by rejecting Anglicanism. Conceived as a primitive form of Christianity, gathered around the personal experience of God - a mystical experience, the Quaker movement stands far from any written, rigid theology, giving priority to the spirit over the letter.
A remarkable feature of the movement is its deep egalitarianism. Convinced of the illegitimacy of any intermediary between an individual and God, the community does not recognize any hierarchy. However, the Religious Society of Friends survived without experiencing violent upheavals, despite the succession of some schisms throughout its history.
The solidarity of the Quakers is based on their full support for the project and the principles that unite them.
This is really the first lesson of the Friends' community's persistence over time: this adherence conditions all their choices, their behaviours, and ensures the minimization of friction within the movement.
The governance and administration of this company, with its particular operating principles, are also very instructive.
Decisions are taken at meetings, most often held monthly. Like any meeting between Quakers, these meetings are considered as cults, with a particular purpose, but always guided by the voice of the spirit, and the search for the divine will - that higher common goal that brings Quakers together. Rather than voting, assembly decisions are made by God's will. Each member participates in the decision-making process by heeding to the promptings from his or her inner voice. Power and ambition (which no hierarchy would reward) have no place in these debates, where only Truth is sought.
In practice, a decision is taken when a consensus is reached at an assembly as a whole. The fundamental criterion is the absence of any radical objection: not all members necessarily need to fully approve a decision. The only condition is that no one opposes it in conviction, convinced that it would go against the Truth and consequently against the will of God. Such a decision-making process is slow, since a decision can only be adopted when all Quakers agree. However, it also ensures that there are no losers in the implementation of decisions, and that all possible frictions are avoided between the individuals concerned by the proposals made. In addition, this governance approach is adopted regardless of the size of the meeting and the number of members.
This method of governance is based on three principles - common purpose, consensus and absence of hierarchy. It has greatly enriched modern concepts of collaborative organization and sociocracy.