How are decisions made?

Learn more here in our project documentation. Our governance model is structured around three activities: 1) a semi-regular Assembly (ie video call) open to all participants [see an archive of these videos here], where announcements are shared and feedback is received; 2) convenings of diverse stakeholders in Open Referral workshops, where we deliberate on difficult issues and set priorities; and 3) ad hoc ‘workgroups’ consisting of leaders with a varied set of perspectives and experiences, which develop proposals for review and approval by the community at large. 

Of all the feedback received from many different contributors, we assign priority to the perspectives of the lead stakeholders of our pilot projects. This feedback is submitted to Open Referral’s deputized technical leads, who ultimately make proposals, implement decisions, and document outcomes about our specifications. Through this process, stakeholders, workgroup members, or technical leads can also propose methods for future review and decision-making – subject to consent of the group.

We develop proposals through a kind of ‘advice process’: before we do things, we ask for advice from those who will be impacted by a given decision, as well as those who are experts on the relevant subject. We synthesize their input and circulate among a wide variety of participants, giving prerogative to our primary stakeholders (i.e. help seekers, service providers, researchers, and database administrators). These processes happen both at the ‘global’ level of Open Referral overall, and at the local level of pilot projects that implement these data exchange protocols — with decisions made at the most locally appropriate level. (One way to describe this is ‘polycentricity’read more about what we mean by that here.)

 When it comes to making decisions for the Initiative as a whole, our simple rule of thumb is rough consensus and running code. We do things that 1) demonstrably work, and which 2) none of our community members find to be outright objectionable.

Posted in: About Open Referral, Organizational Questions