The Art of Governance

It has been a long-time intention to shift our focus toward better governance and collective intelligence AFTER addressing some fundamental infrastructure needed for it go well. Good governance infrastructure needs to be decentralized, interoperable, mashable into new workflows, quickly evolvable, and the tech for that hasn’t been quite ready.

Now I feel like we’re getting close enough with Ceptr that these capacities are just around the corner. So, although I’d like to wait till we have the tools ready, the rising buzz of energy that the Trump administration is triggering makes me feel like I have a responsibility to create a collaborative space for this work pronto.

Clarity about Governance

Governance is not the same as a government. Government as we know it is a monolithic bureaucracy. And frankly, it isn’t very adept at governance – at least not as understood as follows.

Governance has two faces:

  1. Managing continuity and coherence of healthy patterns
  2. Steering toward goals and away from dangers.

In this post I talked about how those two faces have been falsely dichotomized into conservative and progressive candidates and platforms. This

What is Possible

Many are understandably skeptical about utopian visions of what is possible given the gridlock and corruption we call politics.

Healthy Feedback Loops: The 90% of Governance Beyond Decision Making

Humans and Their Big Brains

As big-brained, symbol-using animals, we tend to over-value the importance of the tiny rational portion of ourselves. For example, we put kids in over 12 years of school which focuses on rational storage and retrieval of information in the mind. In school, most are never taught how to collaborate (It’s called cheating.), or how to listen compassionately, establish friendship or trust, express their deepest commitments (That stuff is all a distraction called “talking in class.”).

Sorry… I’m ranting. This isn’t about better alternatives to our broken educational system, it’s about our misplaced emphasis on rationality in our selves and our ideas of governance.

See way back in the first post in this series, we identified problems with the assumption that humans are rational. And since most strategies for governance revolve around this false assumption it probably seemed like pretty bad news.

So here’s the good news, even though the decision-making part of governance receives most our attention in designing systems, it’s a tiny part of governance. Let’s be generous and call it 10% of the system.

So what’s the other 90%?

The Overwhelming Portion of Governance

I defined governance in the context of living systems as having two faces:

  1. Preserving the integrity of what’s working, and
  2. Moving toward goals or away from dangers.

Making good decisions is almost completely about #2. I’m not saying it’s not important, but it is truthfully nowhere near as important as #1. Let’s look at why.

In the course of a day, the attention of your rational brain is mostly on #2: getting to work, accomplishing tasks, choosing what to eat, who to hang out with, etc. However, luckily for you, your autonomic system is doing most of the work: keeping you breathing, muscles contracting, heart pumping, feet walking, eyes scanning, even neurons learning new patterns of navigating your environment un-consciously.

The body is incredibly complex, it’s handling millions of interactions every moment, while your rational brain deals with one, maybe three. A social organism, such as a corporation, institution, or government, is fundamentally the same. The CEO is certainly not micro-managing every operation of the organism. If she is, then she’s probably not doing her job.

Flows Set in Motion Stay in Motion

Okay, this isn’t necessarily true, but I like the sound it stated like Newtonian Physics. This is really the goal of building good self-regulating governance, establishing healthy patterns of flows that sustain themselves.

doesn’t happen just automatically, but

Governance is much more than Decision Making

How are needs or problems identified, goals selected, dangers foreseen?

How are shared values identified, healthy patterns recognized and maintained?

How is research conducted, information collected, evidence gathered?

How are

End with teaser about upcoming currency design webinars