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Working definition: Governance is a means of direct influence for a system or organization.

See Wikipedia entry.

Generally, this involves selection (choosing by decision) and enforcement (enacting and reinforcing the choice).

Other possible elements include inquiry or research, sense-making or structuring, informing, polling or voting, feedback, and adaptation.

Open Value Networks present a wide array of potential governance applications and scenarios, calling for the development of a modular pattern language which enables swift configuration of governance recipes to suit needs.


  • confers permissions and privileges amongst actors in the OVN
  • addresses alignment of stakeholders within a space or project
  • specifies mechanisms for decision making, including triggers for the process, steps to be taken, who to involve, and how
  • provides the structures through which objectives are fulfilled
  • monitors implementation of policies and decisions for compliance


  • decision model and free initiative (what types of decisions do we need to make)
  • governance mechanisms (ways to make decisions, and mappings to decision model)
  • governance structures (committees, offices etc. and mapping to decision model)
  • authority (granting specific people offices)
  • communication (recording and transmitting relevant and timely information)
  • accountability (for both making the decisions and the outcome of the decisions)



Access to processes within the OVN. These can be value creation processes, governance processes, animation processes, etc. If adding value requires the use of material assets that are sensitive to manipulation or dangerous, access to these resources requires credentials provided by the community, see Physical resource governance. Openness is based on the principle of 'equipotentiality'.

Openness is crucial for enabling the large scale dynamic in which resources and collective intelligence reaches the network from all over the planet.


Access to information about creations/products and processes of the network. Transparency is based on the principle of holoptism - ability for any part to know the whole, to have horizontal knowledge of what is going on, but also the vertical knowledge concerning goals and aims.

Transparency an is needed to insure fast growth. It allows everyone out there to learn about the network's activities and needs, and if incentives are also properly communicated, to participate.


Resources belong either to a custodian (bound by a nondominium agreement) as commons or pool of shareables or to affiliates. Allocation of resources is a matter of individual informed choice (for individually-owned resources) or a matter of established governance for shared resources. See more on Physical resource governance.

Horizontal Forms

There are no mechanisms through which one contributor can control another one. Peer production processes are structured with the help of formal systems of roles or accountabilities (describes what members do) and reputation (describes how well members do what they do), through voluntary subordination. Peer pressure represents a type of informal feedback loop with significant effect.

Free initiative

A good initiative is one that adds value to the venture and, by the same token increases benefits for members. A "bad" initiative does not attract the attention or resources to go forward, but there is no penalty for trying! The OVN is a Darwinian environment for ideas, in which the good ones get traction and the bad ones are neglected and forgotten. An initiative which does not become a successful production venture is still a learning process, which adds value (and is not forgotten).

Some conditions must be fulfilled in order for this to happen:

  • The value system is clearly recorded and understood by every contributor
  • A transparent and concurrent reputation mechanism is implemented
  • Members have access to the entire network in order to engage and make their intentions known (and see what is already done there)
  • A space and process to discuss and weigh new initiatives
  • Initiatives must be open, to allow others to participate by adding value, to oppose initiatives or provide alternatives.

It is the responsibility of the initiator to rally support and resources for his initiative. If the initiator can do it alone the initiative cannot hurt the group, even if it does not represent a great addition of value. The individual choices of members with higher reputation will have an impact on other members. This is how skills, talent and capacity are included into this process. Moreover, tools can help contributors make good choices. This is part of Infrastructure development.

This concept is also related to the advisory decision making process, where anyone can make a decision if

  • the individual seeks advice from experts
  • the individual seeks advice from those who will be concerned by the decision

The magic of the advice process is that the person making the decision is entirely responsible for the decision and its outcome. This concentrates the mind, and forces them to really seek out advice and pay attention to it, because ultimately it’s their decision and the network (which hopefully includes people they like to get on with) will have to live with the consequences of that decision.

Important: this is about getting feedback/input into your decision, not about building consensus. Do not use the advice process to try and browbeat people into agreement or to build political support for your decision. You don’t need people to agree. You don’t need political support. You just need input to make sure that you make the right decision.

This is a decision model that works very well to replace both the top-down decision model and the consensus-based decision model, both of which have serious flaws in practice and theory both.

Temporal aspets

Proposed by Steve: Some decisions can be definitive, for others the implementation of the decision has an evaluation process attached to it, and it is meant to be revised at some future date. Active affiliates can be pat of the evaluation process, revision and adaptation of the decision.

Levels of participation aspects

Open p2p networks exhibit a Long tail distribution, or a 1-9-90 structure, where 1% of affiliates in the network are core, 9% are contributors, and 90% are users. Participants in open p2p networks have different needs and interests, depending in which one of these 3 groups they are situated. Network affiliates can migrate between these groups. The level openness of the network is in fact related to the level of mobility.

Governance must be sensitive to this universal structure of open p2p networks. Those is the core group, the 1%, bare more responsibility and have a much larger workload on their shoulders. They are also very concerned by the viability of the network, therefore their decisions will be motivated by maintaining or improving the health of the network. Contributors, the 9% group, want to help, but are not fully committed. Those in the 90% group share the same values and act as a connection between the network and its surroundings. It is important to understand how to compose a decision making body, for a specific type of decision. See more in the following video : Samer Hassan on Online Tools to Increase Participation in Collaborative Communities.

Access to governance

The problem with open systems is that their contribution statistic follows a long tail distribution. This means that there is not clear delimitation for who's in and who's out, but rather a continuum of engagement or participation intensity. The question now becomes who should take part in decision making? Should someone who contributed something small long time ago be included? Should those who are contributing a lot at the moment of the decision have more influence?

The main goal here is to create organizations that are able to make good decisions, in effective time. Based on context, groups must design access to decision making that brings in the people who can make the best decision, taking into consideration potential conflicts of interests and different types of social dynamics. For example, in some cases it is wise to bring into the decision making process distant stakeholders that are not active in the project, just to get their outside opinion or perspective into the decision. If the decision requires technical skills and local knowledge it is wise to invite people who have an informed and up to date opinion. If the issue is time sensitive, those who are in it at the moment might be the best ones to include.

The [NRP-VAS] collects activity and can be used to algorithmicaly filter participants in decision making, based on the type of the decision. We call that the Governance equation.

Layers of governance

SENSORICA and Metamaps are working on governance documents.

Examples from SENSORICA

Network of networks governance

The governance at this level is mainly concerned with

  • protocols and standards for
    • value accounting and value exchange - creating interoperability between projects, considered as autonomous open business units.
    • role system and reputation system
    • content management - creating documentation that can be effectively used network-wide,
    • virtual environment - creating a unified user experience,
  • network custodian
    • issuing and revoking the mandate of network custodian to a entity
    • defining its roles and its responsibilities
  • ...

Networks are clusters of interests. As social systems, they have their own identity and culture. They are also considered as loci of knowledge and knowhow, with specific capacity for design, production and distribution.

The OVN structure is fractal. We can see an OVN a network with nodes that share protocols and standards for value creation and distribution.

Network governance

The governance at this level is greatly influenced by the identity and the culture of this specific cluster, by its mission(s), as well as by the nature of its value system, i.e. the type pf resources used, their availability, the nature of its internal processes, the relations it has with its environment (government, market, suppliers, benefactors, etc.).

At this level, governance is concerned with

See also Physical resource governance page. It describes the governance of physical spaces, tools and equipment as well as consumables.

Project governance

Projects are governed independently within a network.

At this level, governance is concerned with redistribution of revenue, which is regulated by the value equation and is enforced by the Value Equation Agreement. See also Governance equation at project level.

Tibi's view on governance

by Tibi

Rules and norms are solutions to a specific category of organizational problems. Governance must be developed in parallel with infrastructure (tool, seen as technological solutions to a specific category of organizational problems), methodologies (processes seen as solutions to a specific category of organizational problems).

Setting up new rules must respond to an organizational problem. Organizations develop different types of problems as they grow and as they undertake more complex problems. Some of these problems are of governance-type. Every organization has its own specificity and transposing governance from one organization to another one is not so straightforward, especially without considering established methodologies and infrastructure.

Fluid p2p governance

Open document.

See also