Stage 1 - Defining the Challenge

This is the first stage (or “day”, in the original sprint), in which we will work together to have a clear definition of the problem or challenge ahead of us in this process. What is the long-term goal and what are main difficult questions we need to answer in order to get there? We will also make a very simple map, like a flowchart, of this journey, starting from key actors all the way to the end goal.

Ok, now let’s take it step by step! We begin by setting the long-term goal and asking the difficult questions…

1 - Long-term goal

Why are we doing this design process? What do we want to achieve? Where do we want to be in six months, a year, or even five years from now?

2 - Difficult questions

What needs to be true in order to achieve the goal? What needs to be done to make it happen? How could we fail? What could go wrong?

Now try to answer number 1 and 2 from your own perspective, experience and understanding of the problem/challenge at hand. There’s no right or wrong. We’re trying to explore these things together by gathering different knowledge and perspectives on the subject. We can work later on organizing these thoughts on the map.

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So here’s my personal take on it…

Long-term goal
In my vision, Karrot will be very useful for groups to organize democratically, seeking consensus and making decisions with broad participation, avoiding strict hierarchies and in a transparent way. There might be even ways to enforce some decisions by means of the software itself, for example limits to participation in activities/pickups and temporary freezing for individuals who repeatedly disrespect rules that were agreed upon collectively.

Questions

  • Will people actually get interested and feel encouraged to participate in discussions and making decisions on Karrot that affects the whole group (or at least part of it)?
  • Will Karrot offer a simple/straight-forward and yet complex enough process for a group to reach an agreement?
  • Will Karrot conflict with in-person meetings, or will it be a good complement to them?

Long-term goal

  • It should be possible for foodsharing groups to carry out most organisational activities through the Karrot platform, there will of course always be scope for meshing with other tools but that should be the exception rather than the rule.

Questions

  • What governances processes/policies do groups on Karrot use already (how are decisions made in real life rather than through digital tools)
  • How are these policies implemented?
  • What tools (digital or otherwise) are used?
  • What are the benefits/challenges if these tools?
  • What governance needs are not being met?
  • Social or technical problem?
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Summary of the 1st Meeting

We had a good progress in today’s meeting discussing not only the long-term goal and the questions, but also making some reflections on governance in general and where we stand ideologically. Taking our own experiences as a reference, we identified a common paradox in voluntary-driven organizations that could be something to focus on while designing governance features:

  • It is really important, and probably necessary, that some people in the group (usually a minority, depending on the size of the group) take more responsibility and are more active in organizing things. With responsibility comes power and the possible abuse of power and formation of hierarchies, which can be formalized or not.

Thus, one difficult question we have to face is:

  • How to avoid concentrating power and responsibility while still encouraging people to take the responsibilities and tasks that are needed for the well-functioning and development of the group?

We also discussed the tensions between online and offline processes of governance and decision-making. We don’t want Karrot to substitute in-person discussions and decision-making, but how can it still be useful as a complement to these, or to enhance these offline process in the direction of more member participation and empowerment? And how to improve transparency and accountability when it is not uncommon that people are making decision in day-to-day activities and informal settings.

Another point raised was about how to actually implement policies or how to have sanctions for individuals who break the rules decided by the group.

Next meeting

We decided as a homework to try and finalize the long-term goal and process questions. On the next meeting we will go forward by drawing a map (like a flowchart beginning with main actor(s) to end goal) and prepare interviews: “Ask the Experts”.

2020-10-15T11:00:00Z at https://meet.livingutopia.org/b/nic-lfe-olw-svx

Meta-reflections

The pace is slow, because of the nature of our work (voluntary and autonomous), but we felt progress for sure! If we continue like that we will have a great result, even though it may take ages :sweat_smile:

Full notes here: Governance Meeting Notes

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Summary 2nd Meeting

Due to a fuck-up I lost all the notes :frowning: so this is from memory… See full Governance Meeting Notes

Long-term goal

“Karrot will facilitate groups in organizing and making decision in a democratic and transparent way, encouraging participation from all and avoiding the formation of unaccountable and fixed hierarchies between participants.”

Process questions

  • “How to encourage participation even from those less active in participating?”
  • “How to encourage the people who are most active in participating and taking responsibility, while making them accountable for their actions and keeping them in check.”
  • “How to be a complement for in-person meetings and other offline processes for making decisions, instead of something that would conflict and not combine well with these?”
  • “How to enhance, rather than disturb, existing decision-making processes that groups already use?”

Next meeting

Date: 2020-10-22T11:00:00Z at https://meet.livingutopia.org/b/nic-lfe-olw-svx

We’re expected to finalize the map, pick a target on it to focus on while sketching later on and discuss some material gathered from interviews

Summary of 3rd and 4th meetings

We organised the How Might We notes from our interviews and chose to focus on 5:
- How Might We …supports groups to expand their governance model as they grow
- How might it be to… bring up delicate and important issues without exposing oneself? (question of anonymity)
- How might we … make it easy for people to review existing rules?
- How might we … bring new people into responsible roles
- How might we … make it easy for people to give more general feedback

We started brainstorming solutions for the first of these, and will continue between calls, researching existing solutions, and thinking about ideas.

Next meeting

Date: 2020-11-12T12:00:00Z https://meet.livingutopia.org/b/nic-lfe-olw-svx - in this meeting we’ll discuss and reflect on our brainstorming so far, with the anticipation that the following week we have a clearer way for other people to join and participate in finding solutions.

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Some meta-reflections

The process so far has been going well with a steady team, one (maybe temporary) “drop-out” that felt he could not contribute much for the discussions we had at that moment, and another new participant.

Although it took quite many meetings to finalize stage 1 (around 8?), it feels very solid. As a group we developed a shared understanding of a very complex problem and different challenges. Mostly important, I think we are aware of the many unanswered questions. It makes more sense to having a longer process like this, instead of a 5-day sprint, to give us some time to reflect on a very complex issue.

At points we deviated significantly from the original sprint. We skipped for example choosing a target for the map and actually never settled for a single map. The time to focus will probably come now as we started stage 2 and did the first sketches. The fact that all of our sketches shared many similarities and complement each other is a strong sign that the long stage 1 was worth it and that we will be able to arrive at some kind of a roadmap for development at the end. Still, we’d still have to focus on one or two main ideas of the sketches to prototype and test later.

Feeling positive and expecting a good outcome!

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