Sat 27 Feb 2016 4:36PM

Governance for renovating p2p bazaar / SENSORICA lab.

TB Tiberius Brastaviceanu Public Seen by 312

Goal: Create a set of simple rules around the renovation activities for the SENSORICA Montreal lab.

Our experience on the ground has revealed two major issues:

  • Process for high risk tasks / activity items (construction of the bathroom floor for example)
  • Process for spending common funds (not individual money)

The arguments (elsewhere) are revolving around efficiency and speed of action on one side, and shared risk, quality peer-reviewed designs, cost reduction and respect for those who have skin in the gamed (those with personal responsibilities and with investment in SENSORICA) on the other side.

More context is given in this thread from SENSORICA main mailing list.

Initially proposed

Use Proposal on the right side on this window to formulate a set of rules, a process, a protocol to vote on.


Tiberius Brastaviceanu Sat 27 Feb 2016 4:50PM

ACES-CAKE is legally responsible for the physical space that we are renovating. Administrators of ACES-CAKE are responsible for the outcomes of renovation activities. They are the de facto coordinators and facilitators of renovation activities. Anyone can take initiative to propose and execute tasks within the following frame of rules.

Moreover, ACES-CAKE has received specific instructions for how the renovation should be done, from the building owner. These instructions have been already incorporated into a master plan, a 3D model of the entire space. All affiliates can let their creativity loose and take initiative, as long as the basic requirements of the landlord are respected. ACES-CAKE as veto power over initiatives if they don't respect these basic requirements, provided that the exercice of this power is properly explained and documented.

All major renovation activities MUST be communicated to the landlord! This has been stipulated in our contract. Therefore, the landlord has the ultimate veto power.

Proposition for important, disruptive of high risk tasks / activity items

Tasks that require a large effort and/or that present a large risk to the network, that require important modifications to the building/space, or that can disrupt the activity in the lab in a major way.

Take initiative but:
* Act transparently, have the initiative documented and communicated to allow others to know what you intend to do.
* Act collaboratively, have the initiative documented and invite others to build on your ideas
* Invite participation, make space for others to contribute with resources

STEPS TO FOLLOW - a lazy democracy approach
* Have your intention documented in a place that is open to others (Google doc for example). Have plans or models made if needed, set time parameters, level of importance priority, estimate required resources, make parts lists, estimate risks, nuisances, ...
* Share it with the SENSORICA community on the general mailing list with the mention "Renovations important", attracting the attention of those who are more active or directly concerned. If the action is about major changes to the physical space or building make sure the intention is shared with CAKE administrators and the building owner.
* Allow enough time, in proportion to the complexity of the issue and its importance for people to take notice and react. If needed, come back with a reminder. Use commun sense.
* Allow those who want and can contribute with ideas or resources to do it, within the timeline.
* If someone raises a Red Flag you need to stop and open a consensus building session. Raising a Red Flag requires an explanation of the reason, demonstrating why this initiative would cause harm, and the proposition of a path to make the initiative better. Simply opposing the initiative doesn't make it a Red Flag.
* If no one raises a Red Flag after the time delay for feedback, reactions, contributions, you can go ahead and execute.

NOTE: Those who abuse of using the Red Flag power will be sanctioned by the community in an open process.

If you are not confortable with the process ask for assistance. Start with the administrators of CAKE.

Use commun sense
* always ask others before you do something important
* respect those who bare responsibility or those who have a lot of investment in SENSORICA
* try to diminish risk for the network

Proposition for purchasing

Proposal for Purchasing Process / Criteria for high cost items:

  • If necessary, have plans made to show what you intend to do and share it (transparency)
  • Identify materials that meet the builder's code (i.e., materials needed for renovations within the new space). Have a list of things you need to buy made and share it (transparency)
  • Contact the SENSORICA community for feedback (use main mailing list). Set a precise and reasonable delay time for people to absorb and to react, and. Ask for feedback, new ideas (openness, participation, better design)
  • Confirm that materials are NOT available free / by donation.
  • Benchmark prices of materials against (Habitat) Restore or Ecocenter price lists.
  • Check Kijiji (or other 2nd-hand materials sites) for availabilities.
  • Confirm checklist complete on community tool (e.g.. Loomio, Slack, etc..)
  • Make purchase (the purchase becomes the trigger for the specific renovation / task to begin.
  • Apply for compensation for purchase from ACES-CAKE custodians / community accountant.

Possible scenarios

  • Someone will oppose the idea, that's a Red Flag and you need to open a consensus building session.
  • Someone might think that what you want to do is not important enough to be paid with the community money, without opposing the idea. This is not a Red Flag. You can go ahead and support the initiative yourself and log your spending in the NRP-VAS if others support it, OR you can propose a democratic measure to see if you can overcome that person's opinion.
  • There is no money for your initiative in the custodian's account for community building. In that case you can finance your initiative and log it as a debt to be reimbursed with priority. [see precedent with Tibi]

If you are not confortable with the process ask for assistance. Start with the administrators of CAKE.

NOTE: If you purchase something without going through all these steps you assume the risk of not getting reimbursed. The option would be to log the expenses as a contribution to SENSORICA, if the spending is somewhat justified. We have a very limited budget.


  • High cost = 50$ or more for the entire purchase.
  • High risk = something that would physically harm people, something that would require more than 100 hours in work to undo, or more than 1000$ in cost to undo, or something that would affect the reputation of the network in a negative way, ...

Jim Anastassiou Sun 28 Feb 2016 3:56AM

Great start Tibi, but I find a couple of items lack clarity and disagree with some of the governance:

  • Contact the SENSORICA community for feedback

Is this a decision making process or just to get an opinion?
I disagree that the whole SENSORICA community needs to be involved in this type of decision making process. I don't believe we should include such a large opinion base (e.g.include observers) since the scope is narrower. The circle of decision should be restraint to active members/contributors. What earns a vote?

  • respect those who bare responsibility or who have a lot of investment in SENSORICA

Here you reinforce my above comment, the process needs to be meritocratic to respect those that have put in contributions, but this needs to be published and the metrics transparent.

*If you get the go from the community, purchase and you'll be reimbursed.

This process needs to be defined further.


Tiberius Brastaviceanu Sun 28 Feb 2016 5:48PM

Hi @Jim

Thanks for your input. See my other longer post, I hope it responds to some issues that you raised here.


Jim Anastassiou Sun 28 Feb 2016 4:21AM

Come to think of it not sure if I agree with it at all even my comments.

Are we talking about someone that wants to use CAKE's funds to build something at the lab? If so I totally agree we need to refine the process and all this would apply for items in the wish list on the Trello board for example.

On the other hand if we are talking about the landlord's requirements and clauses in the lease that are a necessity with deadlines, maybe the process needs to be different.
It should be the responsibility of CAKE's administrators to make the plans, find donations, publish to social media, involve friends/family free/cheap labour, something that we have been doing right. We shouldn't hold those donating their time to save costs for these requirements responsible for not following a process. We should handle it for them and post it on the forum for experienced opinions.


Brastaviceanu Daniel Sun 28 Feb 2016 5:14PM

Maybe I didn't word my arguments properly, these are the points I wanted to make:
1- we don't need to bother the entire Sensorica Network with the toilet floor neither with the stairs railings. Only the local community that is directly involved with this. Especially CAKE admin witch were included in the emails about this. Tibi, you made a stubborn move with your emails on the stairs railings, Mike and Wilk were turned off by your 3-4 emails. You're doing the same thing here. STOP


Brastaviceanu Daniel Sun 28 Feb 2016 5:22PM

2- Even if we make a plan, when we start building the plan always changes slightly. Should we stop, document and wait for the communities' blessing or just go on with our sense of logic? Do you understand my point here? Over doing it with rules could brake people in their initiative, even frustrate them


Brastaviceanu Daniel Sun 28 Feb 2016 5:26PM

3- 200$ is not a large investment


Tiberius Brastaviceanu Sun 28 Feb 2016 5:45PM

Daniel, the bathroom floor is a high risk item. Imagine we don't follow a process to decide on a design. Someone who bares no responsibility, someone who can just leave the network with no consequences can build this floor, make a mistake, we build the entire bathroom on top of it and then we discover that the floor cracks. This situation would generate huge costs, in $ and disruption to fix it. The floor is a base on top of which we build everything else. We're not talking about a fixture in the bathroom that you can easily remove and replace. We are not talking about lights on the window that can be changed. High risk items require proper procedures.
Your argument doesn't take this into consideration. This can be a 200$ item that ends up costing tens of thousands of dollars. I reject you argument.


Tiberius Brastaviceanu Sun 28 Feb 2016 5:32PM

Here's how I think about it.

Any organization needs to attract participation, affiliates and resources, and incite affiliates to take responsibility. An important condition is that the organization needs to secure investment. No one will invest in something that is not secure. We also need to take into consideration that some affiliates participate regularly, while others only sporadically. The bulk of contributions in a large open network are sporadic contributions. Therefore the network needs to provide security even to those who have contributed in the past but are not there anymore, and those who contribute today, for a limited amount of time, or with limited resources.
This security is provided by transparent and open processes. It is a plus if processes are also stigmergic (allowing others to build on top), thus increasing the probability of growth.
One corollary of all this is that: any present or past contributor MUST have access to information about what`s going on (transparency) and MUST have the possibility to intervene to defend his/her interests (openness).

Spending commun funds is one activity where everyone who has a stake needs to be informed and needs to have access to influence the process. When we ask for donations or investment, people like Tayler respond because they trust that their funds will be used wisely, and if not, they need to be reassured that they can influence the process. Without rules and a protocol people will not want to contribute.

Taking actions that expose the network to risks (like building something costly in the lab) should also be treated with care. That is because if errors are made past investment can be affected. Anyone who has a stake in SENSORICA should benefit again from transparency and openness.

These are the fundamental ideas that drive my thinking. Now, we can talk about technical aspects. How can we insure transparency and openness? How can we make processes more efficient and effective? How can we stimulate those who take initiative and want to do stuff and clear the way for them to add something positive to the network? But one thing is clear for me, we cannot sacrifice the network's ability to attract affiliates and resources for speed or efficiency. The reputation of the system, SENSORICA as an OVN, the trust that people put in it, is something hard to build and easy to destroy. It is crucial that we preserve this asset and do everything we can to augment it.

Access to decision making
I believe that purchasing and taking action that expose the network to risk needs to be open, transparent and stigmergic, for the reasons stated above. This is achieved by good documentation and communication. Once that is established, we can talk about who has access to decision making. The holly grail is a governance equation that operates at the network level. We don't have this at this moment. If Bob and Lynn have time, we can start implementing something rudimentary. If not, we have other options that can be discussed here.
Local knowledge: Sometimes, informed decisions can only be taken by those who are close to the issue. For example, if we want to build something in the lab, only those who are physically in the lab can produce rational justifications. Should-we exclude those who are not in the lab from the process? I don't think so. But their participation in the decision making process should be different. They can act like juries in the justice system. Those with local knowledge can provide the information and they can take that into consideration to make up their minds, while protecting their interests. For example, Abran has money in his account from his participation in different projects, but he is no using the lab, he lives in Pakistan. Should he be excluded from the process? What if we make a wrong decision that would damage SENSORICA? He would lose his investment and his money. If we exclude him from the process he might be mad and quit the network. If we make a mistake the probability of being blamed and for people to leave the network is pretty high. This would be a setback. Do we want to take that risk? The best thing is to acknowledge that there are roles to play in a decision making process. Is Abran concerned by how we spend commun funds or by activities that expose the network to a risk? Yes. Therefore he should be informed and allowed to influence the process.

Trigger for releasing commun funds
CAKE holds the bag. CAKE's administrators are empowered by the network to distribute these funds. They are not empowered to manage the funds! They need a trigger mechanism to release funds for something. This trigger requires a process. To illustrate the idea, we can for example require openness and transparency (produce a document and share it with the community, allow others to contribute in different ways, provide enough time for reactions). On top of that, require a decision making process, see the previous section. Once we have that, the administrators of CAKE can release the funds.


Brastaviceanu Daniel Sun 28 Feb 2016 5:39PM

Mike's investment in time, assets, talent, even money, is mined by tour attitude not process

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