Decision making framework for Community of Practices (Draft 2)

“Empowering, open and well-managed”


Everyone in the CoP and outside CoP must be able to demonstrate idea, opinions and thoughts. The CoP must respectfully accommodate individual thoughts and factor in thoughts of every participating individuals when making decision regarding a new idea or thought process.

If sufficient number of members are not present in the CoP to participate in the decision then the decision must be withheld until such people in required capacity are present. However, if required, due to a valid business reason, this can be overridden and an executive decision can be made with the number of members available at the time.

In such a case, the community (when members in sufficient capacity are present) has the right to question, criticise and challenge the decision that has been made. If the executive decision maker is unable to provide reasonable reason as to why the decision was made (why it was made in absence of sufficient community members as well), the community has the right to undo / repair the decision, even to full extent where possible.

Depending on the size of the community, it may not be possible to accommodate everyone in every decision all the time as not all members might be able to make it to the community all the time. In such a case one of the two below techniques can be used to distribute power.

Two Twins

Each community member elects his/her counterpart. This is the person that they trust with their decision. Ideally, the counterpart must be unique i.e. if someone is already someone else’s counterpart then they can not be elected a counterpart again. If this is happening frequently then you might want to see the “Executive Lead” approach. The counterpart must be someone they trust with a decision and ideally from a different team.

The idea of choosing the counterpart is that if someone isn’t available at a time when a decision is made then the counterpart can speak on their behalf. This is why this person has to be someone they trust will make a sound judgement. This helps reduce number of people who need to be present when making a decision and also helps avoid people making executive decisions when sufficient number of people aren’t available (as theoretically one person is representing two). This works best when members in the community are equal to or below 20.

Executive Lead

Divide the total members of community by 7, round it down and the result is the number of executive leads the community needs. An executive lead is someone that everyone in the community is comfortable with and is trusting to make a sound decision. In community’s absence a vote is still made within the executive leads but this helps reduce the number of people that need to be present.

Being an executive lead also comes with responsibility. He/she is responsible for communicating a decision clearly to the community, along with the reasons if the decision has already been made. When participating in a decision, the executive lead must also think about the wider impact and not just impact in his/her immediate vicinity (per se). The community has the right to demote an executive lead if sufficient number (see impact sizes) think that they’ve had a negative or not much impact in the role.

The impact size agreement levels also apply to the executive leads. Unless the required number agree, the decision must not be made otherwise. Executive leads nullify the need of having to make an executive decision as they are the community representatives.

Depending on size of the community and type of the organisation executive leads can have more responsibilities that help them justify the need for them to stay being an executive lead. This could range from empowering individuals beyond their potential to influencing the range of impact a particular community has.

Ideally the community should cycle their executive leads once every couple of months, depending on cadence.


Every decision that goes through the community must be communicated very clearly and in “as is” format. Any community member is encouraged to challenge the decision no matter how senior a person who has proposed/made the decision is. For this, open forums, wiki pages and online chat (eg. slack) can be used.

When an idea is presented, it must be sized according to its impact. This could work similarly to story points (range 1, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20). Breakdowns according to impact are as follows:

Impact Size: 1, 3

Low impact. Eg. Someone proposing a minor non breaking change in a library that impacts a small project and future projects.

Needs agreement from 60% of the community.

Impact Size: 8, 13

Medium impact. Eg. Someone proposing a major non breaking change/feature in a library that may impact multiple existing projects and all future projects.

Needs agreement from 70% of the community.

Impact Size: 20, 40

High Impact. Eg. Someone proposing a change in framework that is being used. This change impacts current projects and all future projects.

Needs agreement from at least 80% of the community.


Community refines its own processes to make sure that they stay current with changing times. This can be achieved with a retrospective every once or twice a month (depending on cadence). Defect within a process should be raised like a normal issue or idea and discussed as such. The community as a whole has the power to improve, challenge, criticise and disagree with its own processes. These processes shouldn’t be treated as a barrier but more like a malleable guideline that is in place to grow the community. If it is not being used in line with the ideology then the community is empowered to replace its processes with ones that it sees fit.

The goal of the community is to create a utopia where people can openly voice their ideas, share opinions and collectively improve the organisation as a whole.

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