Decision making in fair.coop is a challenging topic. Although we started off with different groups linked by an assembly as the organ for decision making, with fair.coop we sought other ways, as a global assembly could be really inconvenient for reaching agreements, however without losing any key features such as open participation, decentralization, respect for minority opinions and autonomy.
The proposed method consists of a combination of three methodologies which are usually separated but in fair.coop they complement each other: the Council, collaborative decision making through the social network, and voting.
Each of the three forms has its strengths and weaknesses, so it comes to making each of them reinforce and control the others.
The council has an advantage on having a visible group behind, trusted by the members, and with the responsibility of making decisions. But it also has the disadvantages of being a closed, small group, implying that by default it does not include the wealth of ideas and points of view from all members.
Open participation on Fairnetwork allows collective intelligence to be put to work to produce the best ideas and refine the arguments, plus it’s the closest thing to an assembly in which any dissenting opinion can enrich the commons to generate new consensus; its disadvantage is that, with this virtual format it may become too difficult to reach and implement agreements. Furthermore mistrust, which is often greater in virtual spaces, can hinder its efficiency.
Voting‘s disadvantage is to not allow the constructive work of the participants, nor to do qualitative improvements or take responsibility, but it allows a greater numbers participating than any other method, and results are clear and unambiguous. Also, they can be called by different subjects in accordance with the corresponding methodological agreements.
None of the three tools could face this challenge by itself, but the three together and can do the job if well employed!
To get down to work, first step is to define the game rules in each area of the cooperative which, as it is decentralized, it will start off with 4 provisional councils.
Their members will be responsible for developing strategies and making decisions, but only on those topics previously approved by the cooperative.
For this end, each provisional council’s first task will be to define a methodology document on how decisions are taken in their field, and especially which topics are decided by the council and which are subjected to cooperative voting.
Its first draft will be published on the social network and members will be able to make contributions to it, which the council may or may not include, and once they have a more solid proposal it will be voted.
For this document to be approved it must receive at least 75% of votes. It needs a very qualified majority because it is the ground for all other decisions.
If approved, the community can start working hereunder, otherwise it will have to keep searching for community proposals that serve to generate a new, better consensus document to be voted again.
Likewise for participation to be continuous and avoid any position with community support from being silenced; at any time a group of members will be able to gather support for a voting proposal on FairNetwork and if they get enough support they will be able to call a vote.
This minimum number is by default 10% of members but in any case it will be included in the methodology document submitted by the Ecosystem Council. The draft will also make clear whether, how, and under which conditions any council or node is entitled to ban a proposal. This is a possibility about which this promoter group has no specific proposal, but we realize the need for some decision-making space to reflect on how to create balance between the risk of situations that may go against the interest of fair.coop, and centralization of power.
Thus, the decision-making process is open and yet to be defined by all of us together.
We, as the Faircoop promoter group, provide two tools for decision making: first, debate and discussion groups to share drafts and generate consensus, and second, voting tools. We let councils and the community that elects them define their own decision-making methodology, given it is consistent with the fair.coop principles.
Finally, remember that in order to access the scoring tools, and be able to vote you must be a full member of the cooperative. However open this is, we understand that, given the ease of access, fully involved participants should be actual cooperativists.