Accurate Assumptions in the NOI
An assumption that the NSTIC governance NOI gets right is that all relevant and affected parties (see note) must be involved or at least represented in the emergence and ongoing governance of an Identity Ecosystem.
“Representation of all stakeholders is a difficult but essential task when stakeholders are as numerous and diverse as those in the Identity Ecosystem.”
It accurately names the challenge that comes with the number of parties involved. With this vastness, it can become overwhelming to think of systems and processes that will be effective and inclusive on this scale. I have articulated in Appendix 3 a list of many different types of stakeholder groups representing a diverse array of interests.
Limiting Assumptions in the NOI
Given the need to meet the broad and potentially conflicting criteria to be successful, there are two assumptions embedded within the governance NOI that could limit the ability to find solutions that meet these criteria.
Voting as a Way to Govern Decision Making
3.6 Should all members have the same voting rights on all issues, or should voting rights be adjusted to favor those most impacted by a decision?
Voting is not really the right process to get consensus. Instead we can ask: are there ways to understand and know system health that support self-regulating, distributed decision making by a range of stakeholders to achieve the goal of making an ecosystem with the qualities articulated in NSTIC real.
A Steering Group as THE Governance Structure
The establishment of this steering group will be an essential component of achieving a successful implementation of the Strategy. (page 4 of the NOI)
Can a “steering group” really govern an Identity Ecosystem with the scope articulated in NSTIC? The challenge with defaulting to conventional systems like selecting representative stakeholder groups (say 150 of them) and then having an election of a “group” (10 of them) to carry out the above, is whether this form can hold enough space to truly govern with consensus at least about its legitimacy. Voting in modern elections is a 300 year old social technology; Roberts Rules of Order are over 100 years old; neither will successfully meet the challenge of creating an responsive Identity Ecosystem steering group. Neither was designed to foster consensus, but rather majority rule. The needs of the many groups who represent less then 1/2 of all stakeholders must be met in this system.
The Internet itself is governed by a multi-stakeholder approach, with different organizations having different authority, capacity and recognized field of governance. Clearly greater information sharing and coherence across a diverse range of industry sectors is needed for an ecosystem of interoperable identities to emerge.
Natural systems do not govern themselves with steering committees and voting. The practice of looking at biological systems science for inspiration for technology and systems development is called Biomimicry (see Appendix 4). We can look to this body of work to consider how nature “governs” thriving ecosystems of diverse organisms. How are the services that we think of as “identity management” done in nature? How are networks facilitated so that information flows in trusted ways? I think it would be valuable to convene a diverse ad hoc group of stakeholders in an exploration of these kinds of questions with a biomimicry expert. The outputs and key highlights should be made public and might inform other big systemic cyber beyond NSTIC issues. It makes sense to look to nature for inspiration in solving the complexity of developing truly interoperable Identity Ecosystem.
Stakeholder Insight Combined with Ecosystem Maps
Because these processes are public and the outputs published on the web, they create a level of systems accountability and increase the likelihood of earning legitimacy in the eyes of a vast majority of United States citizens and residents along with international stakeholders.
The initial consensus can be developed amongst diverse stakeholders using the systems mapping tools in the previous section. Consensus will not be on “the solution to the problems” but on the polarities inherent in the system and a shared map of the roles and value flows in the existing and proposed ecosystem. These will support effective dialogues that don’t go in circles but actually get to real conversations about system needs from the perspectives of various stakeholders. Shared understanding with the maps as a common ground means that stakeholders with very different perspectives can agree on key pulse points to measure to see if the ecosystem is working in balance.
I believe the systems insight provided by the dialogue processes outlined in this section combined with a steering group whose mandate is to respond to the outputs of those regular stakeholder dialogues relative to the shared maps will be effective, within a few years, of a thriving Identity Ecosystem.
From the End Notes:
Note: Dee Hock, the founder of VISA international, helped develop this method to create organizations that work on biological metaphors rather then mechanistic ones. Having space for all relevant and affected parties is a term of art from the process of forming Chaordic Organizations – see the Chaordic Design Process.
The chaordic design process has six dimensions, beginning with purpose and ending with practice. Each of the six dimensions can be thought of as a lens through which participants examine the circumstances giving rise to the need for a new organization or to reconceive an existing one.
Developing a self-organizing, self-governing organization worthy of the trust of all participants usually requires intensive effort. To maximize their chances of success, most groups have taken a year or more on the process. During that time, a representative group of individuals (sometimes called a drafting team) from all parts of the engaged organization or community meet regularly and work through the chaordic design process.
- Develop a Statement of Purpose
- Define a Set of Principles
- Identify All Participants
- Create a New Organizational Concept
- Write a Constitution
- Foster Innovative Practices
- Drawing the Pieces into a Whole
This post is from pages 36-37 and 50 and Appendix 4 of Kaliya’s NSTIC Governance NOI Response – please see this page for the overview and links to the rest of the posts. Here is a link to the PDF.
This is the section before: Value Network Mapping and Analysis
This is the section after: Who are the Stakeholders?