Amendment Batched Amendment – New Committee Framework

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This back and forth about the validity of committees, that they arent the default in companies, but we are a blockchain project and thats the default in blockchain... etc. I think this is missing a crucial argument: While committees do show up a lot in blockchain, do they actually work in blockchain?

Can we name any successful usages of committees within blockchain protocols? Putting aside that really no blockchain networks have successfully proved themselves as achieving their intended purpose outside Bitcoin (and ironically exchange tokens like BNB which definitely are "run by a CEO"), if we want to look at the top 10 blockchain networks by marketcap, for example, we've got

Bitcoin - No committee structure, minimizes human coordination and bureaucracy
Ethereum - Has not been committee-run, there are committees created within Ethereum (though im not sure I've personally seen them be useful...), largely led by a group of developers pushing code
XRP - Run by a company with a CEO
Tether - Run by a company with a CEO
BCH and LTC, bitcoin forks that are committee-less as I understand
Chainlink - Developed by a company with a CEO
Polkadot - Closest, has a council, which seems to function more like Factom ANO's (minus the validation of the network) with 24 members rather than a small steering committee, but too young of governance to know if it works.
BNB - Run by a company with a CEO
Cardano - No committee

So this is to say that it is worth considering that while committee structures exist in this space, it doesnt necessarily mean they work. What we have seen work, though, is the two ends of the spectrum: Systems where human coordination is greatly minimized and replaced by streamlined incentive systems, and systems where decisions are made more hierarchically like a company.

These other options are worth considering and discussing at least before we jump onboard another structure.
Lastly, and this should have come first, is that I want to thank everyone on the GWG for all the effort put in here. I definitely know how painstaking this governance work can be. These lively discussions can be annoying after all that work put in, but can be a sign that the proposals being put forward are real enough to hash out with a vigor that we haven't had in discussions on this forum in some time. Thank you.
Good points @Julian Fletcher-Taylor, thanks. This is the kind of discussion I'm interested in. My only goal is to have honest discussion and make improvements. I'm not here for choosing sides or camps, or making this a 'like' fest.

I’ll delve into this. The first thing I’ll add is that what I’m about to describe is a portion of the ‘truth’. There are always other factors. This is a proposal to tackle a portion of the truth while staying compatible with everything else.

doesn't really hold, because back in 2018 during the M3 transition, all the best people and groups, an active and diverse set, were all applying for and being granted ANO positions.
That’s definitely true. But I didn’t get around to making my full point. In 2018, we started a ‘gentleman’s club’ that was able to vote on its own grants. What inherent incentive did ANOs have to ‘share the spoils’ with other stakeholders? Even worse, what inherent incentive did ANOs have to ‘share the spoils’ when token price drops and the resource becomes scarce? Resource management became a reclusive rather than an inclusive endeavor. In other words, shuffle grants around between ANOs, don’t actively come up with a management plan that seeks to involve non-ANOs.

Keep in mind, this is not deliberate. It’s just that the peer system you’re in will largely determine the ideas you come up with and put all your energy in. You’re either open (every stakeholder has some form of vote or representation) or closed (very few stakeholders are represented) The ANO system is a closed peer system[1]. The initial excitement and energy hid this flaw long enough until it nearly became irreversible. Yes, it's closed even if membership is technically 'open'. I've talked a lot about how inviting we've become to newcomers, which is to say, not at all. I guess I should say 'pseudo-closed'.

It’s nearly irreversible because, in this kind of closed, reclusive system, a build-up of conflict will eventually outsize the closed confinements of that system until the walls begin to crack and the system gets damaged. We’re not reporting anymore. Standing system is underused. There’s a severe distrust which only exacerbates the conflict. That’s when soft leadership begins to erode. That’s when activity and engagement grinds to a halt.

The W&M research we sponsored will shed more light on this. Particularly, it touches on misaligned incentives between ANOs and any other stakeholder, which is what I just described.

I’m starting with this, because it then ties into:

how, and how specifically, do these proposals drive inclusivity and activity?
So to counter that self-preservation and work towards incentive alignment, we need to include other stakeholders.

As a comparison, a hired CEO that can be vetoed by the ANOs wouldn’t solve this, because what you’re essentially saying is that ANOs are still in control and can exert their self-preservation whenever they’d choose. What they’ve done is hire a puppet to dance for them. You haven't included any new stakeholders.

So this proposal introduces a few ideas for more inclusivity, as an initial push.

  • Reshape our main governance document as a proper introduction to Factom governance. It hasn’t been touched in three years. What does that tell you about ‘the ideas you come up with’ in a closed peer system? We didn’t need to do this, it’s just a simple thing, but it doesn’t hurt.
  • Add a community secretary. A busy bee buzzing between all the stakeholders. It serves more purposes, but for inclusivity and involvement it’s very good.
  • Lastly, and likely most importantly, committees with council representation adds strong inclusion for other stakeholders because membership isn’t dependent on technical requirements or other barriers that limit ‘ANO slots’. You’re lowering the barrier for stakeholder inclusion.
Activity is a two-pronged approach.

On the one hand, you have:

  • A leadership structure overseeing a roadmap and possibly overseeing new tokenomics (more resources). Resources trigger activity. We can’t create resources in this proposal, but we can accommodate them. Full grant pool access with multi-sig? Let’s do it. Endowments? Let’s do it.
  • Stakeholder inclusio gives a voice to more groups, increasing involvement, thus driving activity.

So the question here is. If we agree we need to be more inclusive so we can drive activity, is this an improvement?

Can we name any successful usages of committees within blockchain protocols?
That’s very hard to answer, because there are a million different committee structures. All I can say is that there’s precedent, because apparently it’s the logical way for a decentralized group to organize themselves.

This is something we’re ignoring, but we are a decentralized group. We didn’t used to be. I agree with your list, by the way. You can add Factom to it as an example:

Factom 2015-2018: Run by a company with a CEO.

That’s no longer where we are. And we can’t go back. Realistically, there’s no way we’re moving from decentralized back to a company with a CEO. You can hire a CEO for the protocol, but there’s no precedent and it doesn’t solve my opening argument that partly led us to failure.


[1] I just ‘invented’ the term. Googling the term only gives one result, and it says: “ The ancestor of Wikipedia, Nupedia, was a closed peer system [38] and it failed while the open Wikipedia thrived: clearly openness and low barriers to entry can have tremendous benefits.”
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Lastly, and this should have come first, is that I want to thank everyone on the GWG for all the effort put in here. I definitely know how painstaking this governance work can be.
I'll tell you why this is particularly frustrating. I didn't care to say it before, but I appreciate your involvement.

This has been a slow process on purpose. We started with the GWG proposal to 'shock' the system, then opened up for feedback, inviting anyone to join up, and it's changed considerably along the way.

Were we to have agreed on a different leadership structure here, or here or here - maybe we'd have something else figured out by now. Not sure what, as this model works, but this is how radical Factom changes have the best shot at succeeding. Enable participation, work together, and make something happen. Like I said, I'm after improvement. No one mentioned a related alternative in the form of a CEO. That's what makes me think they're fickle ideas that will change again in 30 days.

Some ideas make sense, like @Niels Klomp 's idea on 'buckets'. But you figure out if it's compatible rather than discarding the proposed idea altogether, and then work together to craft it.

This is about resource management and stimulating activity. That's basically it. Given the sum of all that I've mentioned and written about, a Council makes the most sense for secure, cohesive resource management and additional stakeholder involvement given the state Factom is currently in. We can argue about the details of that Council. But that's what it'll have to be or come close to. The only real alternative is a fork where you can start from scratch and go back to "company with a CEO".
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In the past, we've had issues with people voting without actually reading the accompanying documents. Therefore, I thought it prudent to post screenshots of the "Doc 006 - Committee Architecture and Framework."

I would hope that people that are planning on voting for this proposal are also planning on serving on committees. A week ago, I asked in this thread who was planning on serving on committees. Unless I missed something, zero ANOs said they would.

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Firstly I’d like to thank everyone that is contributing to this discussion. We need debate, challenge and improvement in all that we do.

I’ve been fortunate to be a member of the Governance Working Group (GWG), now the Governance Implementation Group. It’s purpose is not governance for the sake of it but governance that really enables the community to work. We do NOT want bureaucracy we want the simplest but effective solutions for the situation we are in.

Ironically the Guide role was very valuable and gave the community much needed focus and drive. I for one was sorry to see it go and in answer to Matt Osborne's question was seriously considering applying to be a guide up to the point where the community lost confidence in the role as opposed to holding incumbents to account. In the absence of a plan to fill the void left by the guides the GWG was formed.

The work has taken a while to provide due consideration in anticipation of a number of the points raised here, it has been progressive and approved as we have gone along.

It won’t surprise you then that I was a strong proponent of having a CEO or equivalent. So therefore I have to fully agree with a lot of the points made by Matt Osborne and Julian Fletcher Taylor. A lot of companies have strong leadership as do a number of blockchain projects. We could get a lot of benefit from a strong, appropriately rewarded leader at the helm who was accountable for performance and in turn held others to account. However we are not a private company we are exactly the opposite for clear decentralization reasons to do with the avoidance of individual interests and confidence of enduring operation. So we need a compromise, the right compromise, which gives us these decentralization benefits and focused delivery.

The proposals made by the GIG are in this spirit. That is not to say they cannot be improved and if so we want to hear.

To turn to Julian's point about company organization. True a lot of successful companies are not operated by committees. What they do have though is leadership and usually in my experience an organization, including a board of directors with clear responsibilities to deliver the companies objectives. The proposed committee structure has a lot in common with this. It differs from the previous regime with guides insofar as there is increased clarity of objective and responsibility aligned with specialism/experience. So it is not just a group of committees.

Which brings me to the point I think we should be addressing, namely not about one possible extreme or another but the appropriate way of organizing ourselves, in a way whereby we achieve the one primary result, namely ALIGNMENT. I think there are a lot of features of the proposals brought forward so far which create and provide appropriate incentives for such ALIGNMENT. There are a lot of of private organizations which do not achieve this as well as they might.

Would I be prepared to play a role on a committee in such an organization? I would certainly seriously consider it.

Would I require a significant reward for such a role, probably not and almost certainly not until the protocol was provably successful.
I would also like to know

  • How many of these positions are we expecting to be paid positions?
  • Do you have any ideas how much FCTs/USD are we expecting to be used for these compensations?
Sorry, I missed this.

The SC and Secretary positions are compensated. The Secretary will be a fixed amount that I suppose would be comparable to the Guides and is a Standing Party affair (though I'd prefer moving it to a governance committee). We'll determine the max amounts in a motion.

For SC members, it's then up to the Standing Committees what they do with that approved maximum amount. If it's 1000 FCT a month, they'll try and recruit with that in mind. They could also have a nominee that would settle for less. There's nothing saying compensation has to be uniform across the council.

Edit: I made a small edit to 3.6.1: if a committee drops below minimum membership, inactive status for a committee charter is now triggered after 20 days instead of the original 5 days. Considering the speed with which we tend to move, five days is a bit short.
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