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Mandates in more detail (and how to write them)

Why mandates?

We are based on autonomy and decentralisation. Mandates are the building blocks by which we decentralise and mitigate any concentration of power.

We divide all the different types of decision we have to make into mandates, and then we distribute these mandates to the people best able to carry them out. We trust them to do just that, and we hold them accountable if they don't.

So the mandate for a circle or role defines which decisions it can make.

Taking care of our mandates -- recording them, communicating them, updating them -- is critical to how we manage ourselves without managers.

What's in a mandate?

A mandate has three parts:

  • a purpose -- the result we want to bring about (e.g. for XR UK the purpose might be 'Achievement of the three demands');
  • some clear accountabilities -- the activities we will do to bring about the result;
  • some domains, if they’re needed -- the resources (e.g. PA system) or spaces (e.g. website, social media presence) to which we need to regulate access.

What makes a good mandate?

  • Short -- rebels need to be able to scan mandates quickly to find the right team, so try to make this easy.
  • Clear -- use plain does-what-it-says-on-the-tin terms that rebels don't need training to understand.
  • Specific -- each circle or role has a purpose which is part of, or contributes to, the wider circle or which it is part. So focus on what your part of that wider purpose is, and avoid overlapping with areas that other circles might think are part of their mandate.


  • None of this means that your team cannot create richly described visions of the world you would like to bring into being, or the strategy by which you might do this. If that helps you achieve your mandate, do it. But it is separate from your mandate, and serves a different function.
  • If circles do feel that their mandates are overlapping unhelpfully, then we count this as a tension and one or both circles may work on a proposal to resolve it. This is part of the wider Self-Organising System.