How strict should governance processes be?

Reposting here from chat following @LongForWisdom’s recommendation:

I have a worry that as governance processes become more rigid, they also accrue risk in the sense that they will need to be “broken” in more and more situations, where before there would have been no rigid rule, or the rule would have been vague enough to just look “bent”. Possible examples: sudden Dai peg break; hostile slate supported by a surprise whale.

I don’t like the idea of a big legitimacy loss one day where a vote bypasses all processes, even for good reasons. I don’t either like the prospect of us having to go for suboptimal decisions more&more often just so it doesn’t look like we’re breaking our own rules. Possible examples: arguably the small vote delay we have for debt ceiling increase is suboptimal (I don’t think it’s a big deal here and I’m interested in the general case).

This ties in with a more general line of thinking: the optimality/process tradeoff tradeoff (in favour of process) is perfectly reasonable in the physical world because all people have there is process. There is no ultimate backstop to the political conversation, just a series of gradually more senior&abstract guidelines. Compare with our situation where the actual decisionmaking rules are enforced by “god”. Since we have that backstop, do we need to codify the softer decisionmaking processes as lawyerly as it happens in the physical world? Clearly the optimality costs of strict processes are worth it in legacy politics but I could be convinced that they are not in our case when compared to a) efficiency gains, b) the fact that the advisory nature of our governance processes may become invisible, until the day when it becomes super visible.

Addendum: after sleeping on it, my current opinion is that there’s no choice but to do the hard work of 1) following a very structured schema in normal conditions, 2) having reasonable escape hatches, and 3) messaging around those escape hatches to make clear that they don’t create serious abuse of power risks since actual power was always in the votes anyway.

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Reposting my response from chat following @swakya’s recommendation: :wink:

I have mixed feelings about the above. I 100% agree that we should be able to be flexible. I’d even argue that the Governance Facilitator already has the power to be flexible and basically do whatever he wants related to keeping the system stable. The important part is always justification and trust. The Facilitator has to trust that the wider community will not come down on him like a sack of bricks if he shows initiative, the community needs to trust the Facilitator to act honestly until proven otherwise. The Facilitator needs to be able to justify his actions to the community.

On the other hand I feel that process is useful because it allows us to reduce the cognitive overhead for routine operations. If there is process then the facilitator and the community doesn’t need to worry about trusting or verifying that the other party’s actions are for the good of the system, because they’re following a process that everyone has already agreed is good for the system. The important point is to recognise that process is made to be broken, and that the Facilitator is allowed to break it if he has a good justification for doing so. I would have no problem with Rich saying right now that: ‘Well we hit the ceiling way faster than we thought, lets have an executive for 20milion, on the basis that it is ‘at least 10 million’ and we are above peg and at debt ceiling now.’

Maybe we should have a discussion and poll in the forums about this. The above is my opinion, but if we explicitly empower the Facilitator(s) to ignore process if they feel it is beneficial, that might help to limit the perceived loss of legitimacy that you’re talking about.

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