Governance and Operations Prototyping Overview

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CHALLENGE

The platform currently has a strong infrastructure and technical base. We are seeking to mature the governance and operational models to this same level.

We have to date discussed governance and organization structures at a very high level. We believe that we are at a juncture where organizational prototyping is appropriate and structural. Additionally we seek to move through the decision process on foundational elements of governance and operations.

RATIONALE

Over the next three weeks we will rapid prototype the proposed governance structures and evaluate both their form and their function.

In "Prototypes as (Design) Tools for Behavioral and Organizational Change" [ [1]] Coughlan states the following objectives of Prototyping Organizational Structures

"In the realm of organizational change, prototyping helps with three primary objectives:

  1. Building to think-rather than discussing, analyzing, or hypothesizing in abstract terms before acting, creating tangible expressions of ideas early enables organizational thinking to develop concretely through action.
  2. Learning faster by failing early (and often)-making things tangible allows many small, low-impact failures to occur early, resulting in faster learning about what does and does not work and why.
  3. Giving permission to explore new behaviors-the tangible presence of a new thing, the prototype, itself encourages new behaviors, relieving individuals of the responsibility to consciously change what they do. "

While we could technically execute this experiment once the platform was up and running, it is worth noting as mentioned in point #2 above, that if we can absorb the low-impact failures within the development phase, that is one less stress point on the critical foundation of trust in and of the system once it is launched.

This exercise is intended to bring deeper understanding of the proposed structures through first hand experience. The decision made by the various governance mechanisms are non-binding and subject to review by research leaders (Prof. Bernstein, Rajan & Geza).

PROPOSED GOVERNANCE STRUCTURES

To date there has been a general inclination to an open governance structure regarding platform maintenance and development. The aspects currently under consideration include:

  1. Flat Democracy: one person, one vote
  2. Weighted Democracy: vote weighted based on historical participation metrics
  3. Representative Democracy: elected balanced leadership board

PROTOTYPING SCHEDULE

We propose that we implement rapid prototyping of each of these structures to gain insight into benefits, challenges and areas of further inquiry.


WEEK 1 – MOCK LEADERSHIP BOARD

Organization

The Mock Leadership board will be a 5 person committee. 4 members will be elected. 1 member will be appointed. We expect that in practice workers and requesters will be elected and a research representative will be appointed, as researches will be behind the scenes and not necessarily have a public persona in the system.

Implementation

  • Elect Mock Leadership Board
  • Proposed Milestone:
    • Deliver a wiki page that is a definitive position on whether the organization should be a for-profit or non-profit as well as the appropriate ownership structure if applicable.
    • MLB will Determine and publish the rules of governance of the MLB via the Wiki
  • Address upvoted ideas/issues as possible

Schedule

Sunday: Announce Candidacy by adding Name/Bio to Wiki: Mock_Leadership_Board_Candidates

Sunday: Begin uploading ideas/issues to be considered by the Mock Leadership Board

Monday: Vote on Candidates

Tuesday: Mock Leadership Board Meets to discuss First MLB Milestone. Additionally throughout the week, the MLB will address most upvoted issues offered by project participants to the extent time allows.

WEEK 2 – FLAT DEMOCRACY

Organization

  • Establish the Rules of Engagement
    • How will issues be raised?
    • What responsibility/accountability is required to raise an issue?
    • What is the threshold for an issue being voted upon?
    • What is the voting mechanism? (anonymous, secure)
    • Determine relevant aspects of the social contract of Flat Democracy
  • Produce Wiki Page outlining org structure

Implementation

  • Utilize newly established org structure to complete milestone
  • Produce a definitive mission statement for the organization that speaks to trust/power, the four foundations as well as the previous week’s profit/non-profit nature

WEEKS 3 – WEIGHTED DEMOCRACY

Organization

  • Establish the Rules of Engagements
    • What metrics will determine the weight of an individual’s vote?
    • Does this vary depending on issue?
    • What minimums if any are required to enable voting?
    • What is the debate mechanism?
    • What is the voting mechanism & parameters? (private v. public)
    • Determine relevant aspects of the social contract of Weighted Democracy

• Produce Wiki Page outlining org structure

Implementation

  • Milestone: Utilizing newly established org structure and mission from week 2,
  1. Explore and propose guidelines for task pricing parameters (if any)
  2. Produce position paper on role of fees in org and initial fee % range (obviously operations budget will further inform this, however we are seeking to get a general read on – do we go as low as possible OR modest amount to either reinvest for platform development, reputation review payments etc.)

SEQUENCE RATIONALE=

The order of the structures is intentional. Leadership Board is first, as we believe that leadership will serve to get the prototyping off the ground while participants get used to this very new experience. We propose Weighted Democracy be last, as there will be more historical participation content available to produce a meaningful metric to determine voting “weight” (i.e. wikipages produced, badges earned, line of code etc.)

The order of the milestones is also intentional. We believe that all further gov/ops development will be nuanced by the basic for-profit vs. non-profit determination. Once, this has been made, we believe a foundational mission statement/manifesto will be the touchstone upon which all further debate (regardless of org structure type) will return. i.e. Which of these outcomes best serves to further the intentions of the mission statement? Through these two milestones, we will solidify the foundational aspects of gov/ops and can more appropriately begin to address the feature elements of gov/ops such as pricing and fees.


RESEARCH/LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES:

Learning Opportunities: Just as the technical team is simultaneously building and learning, we see this experience as providing the same. The milestones will build the gov/ops structure. The learning for gov/ops participants will occur through argument development in written (position paper/wiki) and verbal (slack) formats. As the majority of the participants are aspiring researches, this can be valuable experience in further developing analytical writing skills. Meta Feedback: Surveys can be developed to garner feedback of the impact of the various structures on trust and power in and of the platform.