Discussion:
[MG] Fwd: [Board of Directors] Decision Making
(too old to reply)
Stephen Coffman
2013-07-11 23:30:45 UTC
Permalink
Subject: Re: [Board of Directors] Decision Making
Date: July 11, 2013 1:47:37 PM PDT
Dear Steve,
Attached please find a letter from Gwyneth Bowman, President of the Board of Directors.
Sincerely,
Abby Lazerow
Board Administrator
July 10, 2013
Dear Mr. Coffman,

Thank you for your email of July 9, 2013.
I have been on the Board of Directors for nine years and have never experienced a vote of the Directors when we needed to use the 2/3’s majority vote option. On a few occasions we have had a member “stand aside” over an issue that they might not personally agree with, but didn’t feel it was an important enough issue to block the vote.

-Are there any particular issues/situations that have repeatedly triggered the use of the 2/3’s majority “emergency vote” clause?

-There are none that I know of.

-Could you briefly describe the outcomes that followed decisions made by

a 2/3’s majority vote?

-This is not applicable, as there has not been use of the 2/3’s majority “emergency vote” clause.

-Also, if you care to offer any further insights into this aspect of your decision making process, that would be most appreciated.

-Several thoughts that I have that might be helpful include the following:

1. We have a policy and procedure on Consensual Decision Making that we review.

2. Every year we have Board of Director elections. If a new Director is voted in, we have an orientation for that new Director of all Policies and Procedures.

3. When an item is placed on the agenda or the Consent Agenda each Board Director is responsible for reviewing the issue. The Director who places it on the agenda is the Sponsor of the item. Any Director who has concerns should contact that person for clarification. If the concern is not clarified satisfactorily, it is pulled from the Consent Agenda so there can be a full discussion. Sometimes, if there is not adequate time for discussion, it will be placed on the following month’s agenda.

4. One important fact that we learned is there is rarely an issue that we need to vote on that is a crisis or emergency. Thus, it is prudent to take enough time to get additional information to add to the discussion until everyone is reasonably comfortable with it. This could mean we could reschedule it to a future meeting.

5. We also use a professional facilitator in our discussions, which is very helpful.

6. One issue that I personally find helpful is a discussion regarding the different communication style of different Directors. Some of us are extroverts others of us are introverts. Extroverts often think quickly and "loudly" and want to come to a quick decision and not let process happen. Introverts often need more time to ponder the issue and to formulate their responses. A superior decision is made when all Directors have adequate time to process the information regardless of their communication style.

7. I am not pretending that our process is always smooth. Conflict can be healthy as long as we make sure we go through conflict resolution that is critical for our ability to meet the many needs of our owners and Co-op.

Sincerely,

Gwyneth Bowman, AFC Board of Directors President
Steve Coffman sent a message using the contact form at http://www.ashlandfood.coop/contact.
Dear Ashland Co-op Board members,
I live in Ashland and have been a Co-op member for 25+ years.
I'm associated with a small group of e-Democracy theorists and software developers who are designing and building toolsets + platforms + processes for a new, and hopefully, more evolved democracy.
Because the Co-op has been so successful over the years, some of us would like to inquire into a certain aspect of the Board of Directors decision making process.
There is currently a discussion in our forum with respect to the merit of *voting* vs. engaging in *rational discourse* until a consensus can be reached.
In the Co-op By-laws (section 5.5) use of a 2/3's majority *emergency vote* is permitted if "diligent efforts have failed to produce a consensus and the issue requires immediate action...".
- How often does the Co-op BOD find itself in a position where it is unable to "reconcile differing points of view based on the best interests of the Co-op"?
- Are there any particular issues/situations that have repeatedly triggered the use of the 2/3's majority *emergency vote* clause?
- Could you briefly describe the outcomes that followed decisions made by a 2/3's majority vote?
Also, if you care to offer any further insights into this aspect of your decision making process, that would be most appreciated.
Thank you so much,
Ned Conner
2013-07-12 00:29:29 UTC
Permalink
Hi Stephen,

Great response from the BOD! So, there we have it. The board has been
successfully using discourse-driven decision making, without voting.

Now the question becomes (for me), would the membership be interested in
undertaking the experiment of trying to use discourse-driven decision
making at the scale of the entire co-op? (Perhaps beginning with the
parking problem ...)

This would move the practice from the "team" scale (the BOD), through
the community scale (150 or less), to the scale of a small population
(8,000). To demonstrate that discourse-driven decision making could
successfully work at that scale would be a big deal. It would provide
evidence that voting may not be the only possible basis for democracy,
even at the scale of populations.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Post by Stephen Coffman
*Subject: **Re: [Board of Directors] Decision Making*
*Date: *July 11, 2013 1:47:37 PM PDT
Dear Steve,
Attached please find a letter from Gwyneth Bowman, President of the Board of Directors.
Sincerely,
Abby Lazerow
Board Administrator
July 10, 2013
Dear Mr. Coffman,
Thank you for your email of July 9, 2013.
I have been on the Board of Directors for nine years and have never
experienced a vote of the Directors when we needed to use the 2/3’s
majority vote option. On a few occasions we have had a member “stand
aside” over an issue that they might not personally agree with, but
didn’t feel it was an important enough issue to block the vote.
-/Are there any particular issues/situations that have repeatedly
triggered the use of the 2/3’s majority “emergency vote” clause?/
-There are none that I know of.
/-Could you briefly describe the outcomes that followed decisions made by/
/ a 2/3’s majority vote?/
-This is not applicable, as there has not been use of the 2/3’s
majority “emergency vote” clause.
/-Also, if you care to offer any further insights into this aspect of
your decision making process, that would be most appreciated./
1. We have a policy and procedure on Consensual Decision Making that we review.
2. Every year we have Board of Director elections. If a new
Director is voted in, we have an orientation for that new Director of
all Policies and Procedures.
3. When an item is placed on the agenda or the Consent Agenda
each Board Director is responsible for reviewing the issue. The
Director who places it on the agenda is the Sponsor of the item. Any
Director who has concerns should contact that person for
clarification. If the concern is not clarified satisfactorily, it is
pulled from the Consent Agenda so there can be a full discussion.
Sometimes, if there is not adequate time for discussion, it will be
placed on the following month’s agenda.
4. One important fact that we learned is there is rarely an issue
that we need to vote on that is a crisis or emergency. Thus, it is
prudent to take enough time to get additional information to add to
the discussion until everyone is reasonably comfortable with it.
This could mean we could reschedule it to a future meeting.
5. We also use a professional facilitator in our discussions, which is very helpful.
6. One issue that I personally find helpful is a discussion
regarding the different communication style of different Directors.
Some of us are extroverts others of us are introverts. Extroverts
often think quickly and "loudly" and want to come to a quick decision
and not let process happen. Introverts often need more time to ponder
the issue and to formulate their responses. A superior decision is
made when all Directors have adequate time to process the information
regardless of their communication style.
7. I am not pretending that our process is always smooth.
Conflict can be healthy as long as we make sure we go through
conflict resolution that is critical for our ability to meet the many
needs of our owners and Co-op.
Sincerely,
Gwyneth Bowman, AFC Board of Directors President
Steve Coffman sent a message using the contact form at
http://www.ashlandfood.coop/contact.
Dear Ashland Co-op Board members,
I live in Ashland and have been a Co-op member for 25+ years.
I'm associated with a small group of e-Democracy theorists and
software developers who are designing and building toolsets +
platforms + processes for a new, and hopefully, more evolved
democracy.
Because the Co-op has been so successful over the years, some of
us would like to inquire into a certain aspect of the Board of
Directors decision making process.
There is currently a discussion in our forum with respect to the
merit of *voting* vs. engaging in *rational discourse* until a
consensus can be reached.
In the Co-op By-laws (section 5.5) use of a 2/3's majority
*emergency vote* is permitted if "diligent efforts have failed to
produce a consensus and the issue requires immediate action...".
Regarding this *emergency vote* clause, we are curious to find
- How often does the Co-op BOD find itself in a position where it
is unable to "reconcile differing points of view based on the
best interests of the Co-op"?
- Are there any particular issues/situations that have repeatedly
triggered the use of the 2/3's majority *emergency vote* clause?
- Could you briefly describe the outcomes that followed decisions
made by a 2/3's majority vote?
Also, if you care to offer any further insights into this aspect
of your decision making process, that would be most appreciated.
Thank you so much,
<http://Metagovernment.org>)
Michael Allan
2013-07-12 03:53:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ned Conner
Great response from the BOD! So, there we have it. The board has
been successfully using discourse-driven decision making, without
voting.
A vote restricted to an elite is still a vote. Ultimately you can
restrict the vote to a single person, but it still remains a vote.
The tighter the exclusions, the greater becomes the power of the elite
and the greater the need for silence among those excluded.
--
Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528
http://zelea.com/w/User:Mike-ZeleaCom/in
Post by Ned Conner
Hi Stephen,
Great response from the BOD! So, there we have it. The board has been
successfully using discourse-driven decision making, without voting.
Now the question becomes (for me), would the membership be interested in
undertaking the experiment of trying to use discourse-driven decision
making at the scale of the entire co-op? (Perhaps beginning with the
parking problem ...)
This would move the practice from the "team" scale (the BOD), through
the community scale (150 or less), to the scale of a small population
(8,000). To demonstrate that discourse-driven decision making could
successfully work at that scale would be a big deal. It would provide
evidence that voting may not be the only possible basis for democracy,
even at the scale of populations.
Ned Conner
2013-07-12 04:34:23 UTC
Permalink
Hi Mike,
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ned> Great response from the BOD! So, there we have it. The board
has been successfully using discourse-driven decision making,
without voting.

Mike> A vote restricted to an elite is still a vote. Ultimately you
can restrict the vote to a single person, but it still remains a
vote. The tighter the exclusions, the greater becomes the power of
the elite and the greater the need for silence among those excluded.

Ned> Mike, you lost me on that last turn. :-)

Ned> Would it be possible for you to elaborate your meaning a bit? I am
having trouble figuring out how to apply what you have said to what I
said and/or to what Gwyneth Bowman said.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Michael Allan
2013-07-12 09:03:14 UTC
Permalink
Hi Ned,
Post by Ned Conner
... So, there we have it. The board has been successfully using
discourse-driven decision making, without voting.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
I was referring to these last two words of yours. I think the board
is indeed voting. Generally all of society's decision systems are
based on voting (formal choice), except those based on sortition,
which are quite rare.

Mike
Post by Ned Conner
Hi Mike,
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ned> Great response from the BOD! So, there we have it. The board
has been successfully using discourse-driven decision making,
without voting.
Mike> A vote restricted to an elite is still a vote. Ultimately you
can restrict the vote to a single person, but it still remains a
vote. The tighter the exclusions, the greater becomes the power of
the elite and the greater the need for silence among those excluded.
Ned> Mike, you lost me on that last turn. :-)
Ned> Would it be possible for you to elaborate your meaning a bit? I am
having trouble figuring out how to apply what you have said to what I
said and/or to what Gwyneth Bowman said.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
conseo
2013-07-13 07:50:59 UTC
Permalink
Hi Ned and Stephen,
Post by Ned Conner
Great response from the BOD! So, there we have it. The board has been
successfully using discourse-driven decision making, without voting.
Now the question becomes (for me), would the membership be interested in
undertaking the experiment of trying to use discourse-driven decision
making at the scale of the entire co-op? (Perhaps beginning with the
parking problem ...)
This would move the practice from the "team" scale (the BOD), through
the community scale (150 or less), to the scale of a small population
(8,000). To demonstrate that discourse-driven decision making could
successfully work at that scale would be a big deal. It would provide
evidence that voting may not be the only possible basis for democracy,
even at the scale of populations.
@Ned
You jump to your solution without asking what they need. I won't reply to your
other answer dedicatedly as I would have to fight on convoluted idealist
grounds which are from emancipatory struggle dead for over 150 years (with
German idealism). I could very well do so with Hegel and Marx (probably even
Adorno and Horkheimer) (1) against (Schelling, Habermas and) your hairball of
ideas, but I can do real stuff practically, as in help real people form real
process by helping them writing software for them and you probably will never
be able to fail as far as you have already "succeeded" in your own theory
without even asking people what their problem is (but filling tons of pages
with explaining them how dumb they are). I also don't know what you bring to
the table practically (e.g. you know that almost every Wiki has a database-
backend?), so I doubt even this discussion is worth the effort (therefore I
spare the other one) and hence will make this effort only this time.

In general, Habermas might be helpful to reflect democratic process and
discourse theory, but his reasons to abandon economical sociology and marxism
(with its practical dirty everyday struggle) have proven very vague and
eventually false since the economic and social-democratic (welfare-state)
crisis of the 70s until today (he has formed his "formalist" theory in the 60s
really and assumed (welfare-)state power was the end of history economically
with Adorno, Horkheimer and also Foucault and the following "post-
modernists"). (2) A lot of leftists and civil rights people are still in this
legal bubble (march through the institutions, try to reform laws etc.). Also
the reasons for his departure (the crudeness of positivist Leninism), were
right not only in his theoretical insights but for many "marxists" (1).
Discourse theory though is not independent from economic basis and does not
become more so (it seemingly was for Habermas in the biggest boom in history
when the division between poor and rich was shrinking), but rather gets more
extreme (Western people like us discussing democracy and people left in US/EU-
backed dictatorships like Egypt struggling for any say. It plays also a very
important ideological part which Bush and esp. Obama regularly reference for
their decisions, that they defend this very liberal freedom and justice (as
Bush replied to anti-war demonstrators in London, saying he would go to war
for their ideals on television.)

Habermas on the other hand has rather made the pity rest of critical theory in
Frankfurt school accessible and *positively* consumable by academic discourse
which marks his success there (Stanford after all is accessible by and
relevant to everyday "discourse", right?), rather than bringing it to the
people. I don't expect you to comprehend that really btw, as it is poorly
described here and you won't risk to face dumb reality anyway as it can be
scaringly frustrating and I don't even blame him as he has done serious
theoretical work and culture bridging and tried really hard.


So I don't discredit Habermas' discourse theory plainly as this was not right
and not really critical in the most honest sense, one has to study discourse
theory to judge it and democratic rights can be very important (discourse has
been in fact at heart in many revolutions in history, e.g. Russian revolution
of 1905, 1917 and following democratic struggles of the sovjets until
Kronstadt, the German revolution of 1918, global revolutionary moments 1968,
the deconstruction of "Leninism" 1989 etc... and in general in moments beyond
and inside bourgeois society where fundamental discussion is and was
necessary, strikes, civil rights movement, women's movement, but esp. in the
last two it also failed). But your recent reply as well as many discussions
here (on the list) as well as political analysis' of Habermas on democracy in
the EU show that they lack any grounding in social/political struggle and lose
themselves in abstract legalist/discursive/technical terms which have no
reality in any social conflict and political action, but only construct
alleged solutions to avoid the real problems and failures and the *fucking*
contradictions and even more *fucking* practical obstacles (the Iraq war was a
success, right?, because it had the biggest anti-war demonstration for liberal
rights in history, which were subsequently coopted by the establishment
fighting for women rights etc., all a line of progressive discursive progress
through international treaties. The point is not whether you argue that way,
but that I can hijack these arguments like Bush, Obama and even Habermas and
his academic peers do to justify these or some other actions if they see fit).
This critique applies to Votorola as well, it has potential, but I am not sure
if it is only imagined. So without a root discourse theory regresses to boring
and poor idealism.

To frame the problem specifically, this quote of yours proves that you have no
idea about political practice and probably have never desperately tried to
fight one on the streets to really gain rights (I thought wiser was defending
people's rights?):
"Because Votorola uses voting and delegation, the system can be
easily gamed by the rich and powerful and well-connected and
charismatic." Votorola probably will never be very powerful, but claiming that
power will seek a totally transparent discursive (all proposals have to be
transparent in Votorola) process for abuse is ridiculous, probably no matter
what tool or practice of metagov you put as subject in this sentence. It will
and historically has always side-stepped the transparency and undermined the
process by using its real, dirty, everyday power beyond the process, no matter
how smart you think you are, discourse will never be all of society and it
will be lurking in these shades for you, because power has to produce itself.
It will also just kill the process, you cannot safeguard discourse from
within. Yours is only a problem in your mind and of a few other "social
scientists" [charisma e.g. is a pseudo-scientific social theory, which is
anti-democratic even in its allegation and you have just put it in there to
group any form of imaginary power (what does well-connected mean, when
everybody uses an open-source e-dem process?) and make power self-sufficient
as if it already came from nowhere but the e-dem process itself. it is also
again not your theory]. Hence my excursus on idealism and your need to root
your theoretical speculations.
You can't disprove this weakness theoretically except for your mind, so spare
your time repeating your own mixed-up terminology and show practical
historical examples (wiser should have examples, shouldn't it?) and insights
and prove the practical success of your theories (give real reasons and
practical arguments in discursive terms and really help people instead of
teaching them). At least you should be able to demonstrate Blinap on a real
issue without having to force people to adopt it first, right?


I told you to stay away from putting your solution and instead helping the
coop and cooperate on that, but you can't even restrain yourself and really
help people, but have to start arguing again and put your solution first, so
again such an unnecessarily stupid obstacle imo, though not unsurprising,
because probably this advise is all you have to offer and hence you press it
hard.
(I mean your "discourse" driven Blinap process forced on people and
artificially opposed to voting because you have made up and patch-worked some
theory to divorce them (how superficially ironic to demand it as the golden
measure of democracy from a democratic coop at first btw.). Again I am not
interested in your theory as long as you can't explain it in historical and
sociological reality down to everyday empirical experience consistently,
reference your theoretical sources and have helped some people with it
practically. You should be able to do so with your peers on wiser.org if you
have social experience. (I and seemingly most people here on the list really
can't understand otherwise, because words can mean a lot or nothing, esp. if
you don't have to stick to them or your sources, this also applies to this
very critique of mine and other posts here, so I don't want to continue this
fruitless idealist discussion, you will ofc. reply, but do so practically if
you want to expect answers, I hope I have made that now really clear!). There
are already more than enough of these "theories" and most of these
"democratic" ideas actually older than a hundred years and constantly failing
except for proving the smartness of their author for him/herself against the
dumbness of the people.
Theory inspired by practice on the other hand would be refreshing for this
list and community imo. Theory citing its sources at least arguable, if
somebody felt like it.



My question to Stephen and the Coop would rather be what they need to broaden
and deepen their democratic process, especially the economical success of the
coop.
If the members are comfortable with the BOD, what point does it have to push
all 8000 people to drive decisions (if only a part does, things get even worse
than now) they rather delegate to the BOD? How do you picture them to accept
(and carry the practical burden of) this expectation of yours without a
concrete problem just for the sake of non-voting? After all they have decided
as *owners* to elect the BOD and can decide otherwise at any time. If you
really want to criticize coops you could study the critiques of Mondragon imo,
this would be at least helpful in context. (3)

@Stephen
The parking lot is a good mundane example. Can this problem be solved by the
coop alone or do they need new ground for it? Can it be shared by other
groups?
Generally, can this issue or another one be exploited to foster democracy and
be more successful with it than without? How does the coop picture to endorse
democratic process and increase its reach? Opening up to the own membership
base can be an option, but only if it is interested and can bring value to the
table which the BOD cannot (e.g. voluntary labour). Are there cases where this
could be exploited? What kind of outreach and external interface can be built
to allow outsiders help with their problems to mutual benefit? (e.g. Urban
gardening, composting, construction work, you name it). Are there online
processes where this could be hooked in? (e.g. forums or production line
software)
This is what I think is most interesting now.

conseo


(1) If you prefer a contemporary English author, I'd propose Paul Mattick:
"Business as usual".
(2) POLITICA. Jürgen Habermas. Theorie und Praxis. Luchterhand 1967.
For example p. 190 ff, about the law of falling profit, which currently makes
more than 40 million people permanently unemployed in core
industrial/capitalist nations, destroys the industrial basis of capitalism
(most capital nowadays doesn't invest in production anymore) and constantly
undermines and destroys the welfare-state which allowed capitalism to claim
the end of history in Habermas' theory. Just one example of how vague the
necessity for discourse theory alone can be.

(3) e.g. The Myth of Mondragon Cooperatives, Politics, and Working - Class
Life in a Basque Town. 1996
Michael Allan
2013-07-13 08:12:10 UTC
Permalink
Gents, this is no way to talk to each other.
Please refrain.
@Ned
You jump to your solution without asking ...
Stephen Coffman
2013-07-14 02:21:03 UTC
Permalink
Hi Conseo,
Post by conseo
My question to Stephen and the Coop would rather be what they need to broaden
and deepen their democratic process, especially the economical success of the
coop.
I imagine many (perhaps most) members would say the Co-op's process is *deep enough* as it appears to be very open and successful already.
Post by conseo
If the members are comfortable with the BOD, what point does it have to push
all 8000 people to drive decisions (if only a part does, things get even worse
than now) they rather delegate to the BOD?
I don't actually see pushing the membership at large into "driving" the day to day decisions the *management* is currently making. I'm very comfortable with the model the Co-op is currently using to run their/our business. What I'm imagining (as a possibility) is organizing the Co-op membership into a network that can develop, approve, and fund projects for the good of the community *at large*. As I said earlier, the Co-op already has a community grant program that gives funding to organizations in the area that are working on issues of social justice and environmental sustainability, (etc). I'm seeing something that is a little larger...and organized by the membership at large.
Post by conseo
How do you picture them to accept
(and carry the practical burden of) this expectation of yours without a
concrete problem just for the sake of non-voting?
The world is full of concrete problems from the community level on up to the global level. What I'm interested in is developing a model for organizing creative and intelligent action that is directed towards finding solutions to some of those problems. I'm not interested in doing this "just for the sake of non-voting".
Post by conseo
After all they have decided
as *owners* to elect the BOD and can decide otherwise at any time. If you
really want to criticize coops you could study the critiques of Mondragon imo,
this would be at least helpful in context. (3)
Personally, I'm not interested in criticizing co-ops. I think they're great. I would like to see a lot more of them.
Post by conseo
@Stephen
The parking lot is a good mundane example. Can this problem be solved by the
coop alone or do they need new ground for it? Can it be shared by other
groups?
I just mentioned the parking issue because Ned asked what "real world 'growing tip' problems the Co-op" was having. The Co-op is currently trying to buy out the bank next door which would give them both more parking and more square footage for the store. The bank would have to move obviously and the City of Ashland has an ordinance that won't permit any more drive-up window locations in town. This was legislated years ago to prevent more fast food franchises from moving into town. Last I heard this idea was going to be presented to the City Council for some kind of variance. I don't know the latest.....
Post by conseo
Generally, can this issue or another one be exploited to foster democracy and
be more successful with it than without?
Again, I'm not sure approaching the membership from a standpoint of "let us help you fix your problems" would be the better option.
Post by conseo
How does the coop picture to endorse
democratic process and increase its reach? Opening up to the own membership
base can be an option, but only if it is interested and can bring value to the
table which the BOD cannot (e.g. voluntary labour).
Yes, "bringing value to the table".....I like that! In my mind, that looks like setting up an online member owned and organized network that can propose, enact, and fund creative and collaborative solutions to make *the community* a better place in which to live.
Post by conseo
What kind of outreach and external interface can be built
to allow outsiders help with their problems to mutual benefit? (e.g. Urban
gardening, composting, construction work, you name it). Are there online
processes where this could be hooked in? (e.g. forums or production line
software).
These are exactly the questions I'm trying to answer. I need your (and others) help with this!
Post by conseo
This is what I think is most interesting now.
I agree. Let's figure something out...together!

Thanks so much!
conseo
2013-07-15 00:20:04 UTC
Permalink
Hi Stephen,
Post by Stephen Coffman
Post by conseo
My question to Stephen and the Coop would rather be what they need to
broaden and deepen their democratic process, especially the economical
success of the coop.
I imagine many (perhaps most) members would say the Co-op's process is *deep
enough* as it appears to be very open and successful already.
Ok, I imagined that. It is steered by the base already.
Post by Stephen Coffman
Post by conseo
If the members are comfortable with the BOD, what point does it have to
push all 8000 people to drive decisions (if only a part does, things get
even worse than now) they rather delegate to the BOD?
I don't actually see pushing the membership at large into "driving" the day
to day decisions the *management* is currently making. I'm very comfortable
with the model the Co-op is currently using to run their/our business.
What I'm imagining (as a possibility) is organizing the Co-op membership
into a network that can develop, approve, and fund projects for the good of
the community *at large*. As I said earlier, the Co-op already has a
community grant program that gives funding to organizations in the area
that are working on issues of social justice and environmental
sustainability, (etc). I'm seeing something that is a little larger...and
organized by the membership at large.
Yes, this was my point, too. I would like to increase the reach and bridge in
other issues to quickly demonstrate value and learn from experiences instead
of the "right" theory and expand from that. Theory can help to remove
structural barriers on the way though and can be explored by different
(metagov) projects once a process is in place.
Post by Stephen Coffman
Post by conseo
How do you picture them to accept
(and carry the practical burden of) this expectation of yours without a
concrete problem just for the sake of non-voting?
The world is full of concrete problems from the community level on up to the
global level. What I'm interested in is developing a model for organizing
creative and intelligent action that is directed towards finding solutions
to some of those problems. I'm not interested in doing this "just for the
sake of non-voting".
Me, too, this was my point towards Ned. Is there some issue/management system
in place for the coop which could be extended in this direction (e.g. as a
web-issue-tracker)?
Post by Stephen Coffman
Post by conseo
After all they have decided
as *owners* to elect the BOD and can decide otherwise at any time. If you
really want to criticize coops you could study the critiques of Mondragon
imo, this would be at least helpful in context. (3)
Personally, I'm not interested in criticizing co-ops. I think they're great.
I would like to see a lot more of them.
Ofc. me neither, but they have some structural problems (at least on the scale
of Mondragon it becomes obvious), because they have to operate in a
capitalistic environment, meaning they cannot democratically decide about the
free market and have to compete with cheap/slave labour in part (many coops
have a problem with NAFTA and other free trade agreements). I also would like
to see a lot more, but this probably is not a linear development you can just
continue without changing market economics and coming together on a bigger
scale. But we don't have to worry about that now, I just wanted to mention
that we could study coops organisations critically by example, if we wanted. I
don't for now and haven't yet read named famous study.
Post by Stephen Coffman
Post by conseo
@Stephen
The parking lot is a good mundane example. Can this problem be solved by
the coop alone or do they need new ground for it? Can it be shared by
other groups?
I just mentioned the parking issue because Ned asked what "real world
'growing tip' problems the Co-op" was having. The Co-op is currently trying
to buy out the bank next door which would give them both more parking and
more square footage for the store. The bank would have to move obviously
and the City of Ashland has an ordinance that won't permit any more
drive-up window locations in town. This was legislated years ago to prevent
more fast food franchises from moving into town. Last I heard this idea was
going to be presented to the City Council for some kind of variance. I
don't know the latest.....
Ok. You are on the ground, whatever you think would make sense. This sounds
very much like a legislative issue, something Votorola potentially was
designed for. Maybe you can link us in some discussion forum over there to get
more insights? I couldn't find any public ones on the homepage. I am also not
familiar with your local legislative process, but can have a look into it, if
it helps.
Post by Stephen Coffman
Post by conseo
Generally, can this issue or another one be exploited to foster democracy
and be more successful with it than without?
Again, I'm not sure approaching the membership from a standpoint of "let us
help you fix your problems" would be the better option.
Ok, I can understand that (because then you have to do the work theoretically
and technically). I have some micromanagement/community-tool/wiki in mind,
probably integrated in either social networks or mobile work-flows of the
workers, open to outside contributions, whatever makes sense. It's difficult
to judge from here. I know Scrum and agile concepts for bottom-up software
development and project management. Votorola is also available. I could also
have a look at similar coops here, probably after exams, and look if one can
cooperate on production technology over the web similar to Open Source
Ecology, for example. (2)
Post by Stephen Coffman
Post by conseo
How does the coop picture to endorse
democratic process and increase its reach? Opening up to the own membership
base can be an option, but only if it is interested and can bring value to
the table which the BOD cannot (e.g. voluntary labour).
Yes, "bringing value to the table".....I like that! In my mind, that looks
like setting up an online member owned and organized network that can
propose, enact, and fund creative and collaborative solutions to make *the
community* a better place in which to live.
Yes, something like that. Preferably hooked into something where the members
and people of your whole community (town) already are, so they can get hooked
in, if they want to. Again, do you have online forums or issue trackers (or
does it all happen on FB)? I can also imagine something like Kickstarter where
people collectively raise resources to match a budget and then execute the
plan together. (1) The platform would be open (source) and community run
though.
Mike and me have lately talked about a production process where the amount of
labour and materials supplied to the machine works like consent, the more you
support a process, the more comes out of it. (This can also be hooked into
discussion forums, ofc. and would be transparent.) This would even be
something like a living machine, cybernetics with collective consciousness.
The electronics have become incredibly cheap for this, ~40$ for a Raspberry
Pi, which I already have here and can wire up to hardware. I don't what
production/logistics machinery you have though.
Post by Stephen Coffman
Post by conseo
What kind of outreach and external interface can be built
to allow outsiders help with their problems to mutual benefit? (e.g. Urban
gardening, composting, construction work, you name it). Are there online
processes where this could be hooked in? (e.g. forums or production line
software).
These are exactly the questions I'm trying to answer. I need your (and
others) help with this!
Ok, I hope my speculative ideas go in the right direction. The same level of
criticism I put to others I can take very well myself (and have to get here),
so don't be too gentle, it doesn't help our cause :-).
Post by Stephen Coffman
Post by conseo
This is what I think is most interesting now.
I agree. Let's figure something out...together!
I am sorry to rant about this issue that much, it is especially because I care
about coops for some time and have waited for a chance to get involved more
practically. I don't mean it personally and I don't even know Ned enough
personally to attack him in this sense, but I very well know this approach to
society and this problem of e-dem projects now. If I wouldn't care I wouldn't
be so serious about it as I have great fun in building software atm. Sadly you
can't be friends with everybody unconditionally.
Post by Stephen Coffman
Thanks so much!
No problem. I help you, you help me. We help us.

conseo

(1) Maybe something like http://zelea.com/w/Stuff:Votorola/p/budgeting (?) I
can imagine a permanent budget which does not only track money but also labour
and raw resources and allows members/contributors to constantly extend and
fine grain it. It could also be combined with tracking the contributions to
the production machines as votes, mentioned above. I had urban gardening in
mind already. http://zelea.com/w/User:Conseo-Polyc0l0rNet/Mann/p/urgar This
could be done as a global green economy project or so.
(2) http://opensourceecology.org/
Stephen Coffman
2013-07-16 15:26:28 UTC
Permalink
Hi Conseo,
Post by conseo
Is there some issue/management system
in place for the coop which could be extended in this direction (e.g. as a
web-issue-tracker)?
The Co-op doesn't have any web forum/issue/management system that I am aware of. The closest they come (to that) is a comment/suggestion/question box inside the store next to a bulletin board where they post answers from whomever the comments/questions/suggestions are directed towards. Having something like this online where members could more easily read other members contributions...and work together on proposed *suggestions/solutions* could be a real benefit.
I think it could be a great tool for improving member interface with management.
Post by conseo
I have some micromanagement/community-tool/wiki in mind,
probably integrated in either social networks or mobile work-flows of the
workers, open to outside contributions, whatever makes sense. It's difficult
to judge from here. I know Scrum and agile concepts for bottom-up software
development and project management. Votorola is also available. I could also
have a look at similar coops here, probably after exams, and look if one can
cooperate on production technology over the web similar to Open Source
Ecology, for example. (2)
That all sounds interesting. I'm working on an outline for what I have in mind. I'll need a few more days to put it together.
In the meantime, could you (or somebody) suggest which *practice* would work for the type of *collaborative proposal development* we've been discussing?
I'd like to begin familiarizing myself with what is already *imagined* or available.
Post by conseo
I can also imagine something like Kickstarter where
people collectively raise resources to match a budget and then execute the
plan together. (1) The platform would be open (source) and community run
though.
Yes, what I have in mind would need a funding platform...something like Kickstarter, but "open (source) and community run".
Post by conseo
Mike and me have lately talked about a production process where the amount of
labour and materials supplied to the machine works like consent, the more you
support a process, the more comes out of it. (This can also be hooked into
discussion forums, ofc. and would be transparent.) This would even be
something like a living machine, cybernetics with collective consciousness.
The electronics have become incredibly cheap for this, ~40$ for a Raspberry
Pi, which I already have here and can wire up to hardware. I don't what
production/logistics machinery you have though.
This is where I get a little lost. Maybe you could explain a bit more of what this is, or would look like.
conseo
2013-07-18 13:26:53 UTC
Permalink
Hi Stephen et al.,
Post by Stephen Coffman
Post by conseo
Is there some issue/management system
in place for the coop which could be extended in this direction (e.g. as a
web-issue-tracker)?
The Co-op doesn't have any web forum/issue/management system that I am aware
of. The closest they come (to that) is a comment/suggestion/question box
inside the store next to a bulletin board where they post answers from
whomever the comments/questions/suggestions are directed towards. Having
something like this online where members could more easily read other
members contributions...and work together on proposed
*suggestions/solutions* could be a real benefit. I think it could be a
great tool for improving member interface with management.
Ok. Maybe they have something internal, at least this should be clarified,
otherwise one might have a public forum for chatter+publicity and a hidden
internal process with the "real" content. If they mostly communicate per mail,
this should also be documented.
Post by Stephen Coffman
Post by conseo
I have some micromanagement/community-tool/wiki in mind,
probably integrated in either social networks or mobile work-flows of the
workers, open to outside contributions, whatever makes sense. It's
difficult to judge from here. I know Scrum and agile concepts for
bottom-up software development and project management. Votorola is also
available. I could also have a look at similar coops here, probably after
exams, and look if one can cooperate on production technology over the
web similar to Open Source Ecology, for example. (2)
That all sounds interesting. I'm working on an outline for what I have in
mind. I'll need a few more days to put it together. In the meantime, could
you (or somebody) suggest which *practice* would work for the type of
*collaborative proposal development* we've been discussing? I'd like to
begin familiarizing myself with what is already *imagined* or available.
In agile software engineering story cards are often used: (1)

Story card 1:

Alice has an idea for her community. She enters a short description in the
system. The system shows no similar issues. She creates a new proposal and the
system creates a global issue id for it (a url). She enters a plan description
for realisation, including a resource and an office (executive role). She then
posts a link to her proposal ("position" in Votorola terms) to her forums and
tries to get support and feedback. People start to vote for her proposal.

Story card 2:

Bob sees Alice proposal and has some ideas about adjustments. He forks
(clones) her proposal and makes changes, but keeps voting for her. The system
creates a difference view on the two documents. He uses an url to reference
the changes and posts them in the forum of Alice and her peers and explains
his reasons. Alice likes the changes and "patches" them in. Bob keeps voting
for her proposal.

Story card 3:

Tom wants to support Alice and votes (applies) for an office defined in
Alice's plan. He also pledges 10 hours labour per month to support the plan.
The system shows this progress and new fulfilment of Alice's plan.

Story card 4:

Frieda does not like Alice' proposal at all. She creates a new proposal and
changes it to oppose the plan of Alice. She also posts it in her forums to
drum up support for it. People start to vote for her, some try to reach
consent with Alice and start a dialogue.

We should keep it minimal, but parts of that are already implemented in
Votorola (besides the resources and offices which exist as practices).
Post by Stephen Coffman
Post by conseo
I can also imagine something like Kickstarter where
people collectively raise resources to match a budget and then execute the
plan together. (1) The platform would be open (source) and community run
though.
Yes, what I have in mind would need a funding platform...something like
Kickstarter, but "open (source) and community run".
Post by conseo
Mike and me have lately talked about a production process where the amount
of labour and materials supplied to the machine works like consent, the
more you support a process, the more comes out of it. (This can also be
hooked into discussion forums, ofc. and would be transparent.) This would
even be something like a living machine, cybernetics with collective
consciousness. The electronics have become incredibly cheap for this,
~40$ for a Raspberry Pi, which I already have here and can wire up to
hardware. I don't what production/logistics machinery you have though.
This is where I get a little lost. Maybe you could explain a bit more of
what this is, or would look like.
I mean that the machines are coupled to the continuous funding process and
labour on the machines is reflected in the tool. This means that the real
world gets wired to the platform. That was all and this is already practice in
business management/production tools today, it is just not public and often
very complected.

Does that help?

conseo

(1) a very nice example of how this works is here:
http://thinkrelevance.com/how-we-work/product_owner
Stephen Coffman
2013-07-21 16:54:20 UTC
Permalink
On Jul 18, 2013, at 6:26 AM, conseo wrote:

Hi Conseo,
Post by conseo
Ok. Maybe they have something internal, at least this should be clarified,
otherwise one might have a public forum for chatter+publicity and a hidden
internal process with the "real" content. If they mostly communicate per mail,
this should also be documented.
I'll see what I can find out about their internal communication system/process.
Post by conseo
Post by Stephen Coffman
In the meantime, could you (or somebody) suggest which *practice* would work for the type of
*collaborative proposal development* we've been discussing?
We should keep it minimal, but parts of that are already implemented in
Votorola.
Is it possible we could use what you have in mind to develop my recently submitted proposal?
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