Utopia: Direct Democracy based on Agile-Lean Mindset and Principles

Athenian democracy painted by Philipp Foltz
Hieronymus Bosch — The Garden of Earthly Delights

Agile mindset and Agile principles have emerged for software development processes and are mostly used in software development processes today. Do you think that Agile principles cannot be used in another field? I don’t think so. I am here with a proposal that you have never heard of before. Adapting Agile mindset and Agile principles into state management. I hear that you are saying “it’s impossible!”. That’s why I started the title as Utopia. I think this is very difficult to happen in the near term, but it is a viable Utopia in the medium and high term. In this article, I will examine that what can we get and what can we solve by using Agile Mindset and Agile Principles for state management.

Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία, dēmokratiā, from dēmos ‘people’ and kratos ‘rule’) is a form of government in which the people have the authority to choose their governing legislation. Who people are and how authority is shared among them are core issues for democratic theory, development and constitution. Some cornerstones of these issues are freedom of assembly and speech, inclusiveness and equality, membership, consent, voting, right to life and minority rights.

We can classify model of democracies like:

· Direct Democracy,

· Indirect — Representative Democracy

In these models, it has always been discussed how citizens can participate and how effective they can be in making decisions. How citizens ideas and concerns are represented has always been discussed. At this point of representation function, one of the most important tools ever found is Political Parties.

Although direct democracy is the model of democracy in which the citizen has the highest participation, it is very difficult in terms of applicability, so states wanted to benefit from Representative Democracy methods. In Representative Democracies, you hand over your right to participate in democracy to a person — a political party. Let’s say you handed over your right to participate in democracy to a Political Party. This has disadvantages as well as advantages. In my opinion, the biggest disadvantage is Partisanship.

If we define partisanship as defending the views of the group / party; You are expected to defend the views of the Party, you belong to. In today’s world, you observe that citizens are clustered around a political party and that they adopt all kinds of ideas of their parties. In this way, the society is divided into camps around an ideology and has resulted in a reflex rejection of any proposal from the opposing political party or its supporters, just because it came from the “Other” party. Even if they are very good ideas.

Citizens periodically sends Political Parties to the Parliament for a limited period to represent their ideological views We call it Election.

So, do you think if the Political Party you support really cares about the issues you care about? In general, Political Parties selects the candidates according to their own agenda and priorities regardless of the seek views of their supporters. Citizens accepts and votes for the candidates that is dictated by their parties without knowing exactly who their candidate was. Here the whole story begins after this stage. Parliamentary candidates that you believe will represent your concerns until the elections, begin to give importance to the demands of the party’s high-level decision-making mechanism after elections.

I am sure you see that the Parliamentarians or Political Parties who state that they represent you, they are making irrational decisions just because their Party said so. And because of you support that Party, you often find yourself supporting or defending irrational decisions.

In my opinion, the biggest obstacle to getting better as a country is Partisanship. The more direct participation in democracy in efficient way, the better country can be. Non-partisan democracy is required to maximize direct participation. Various researches have been done worldwide in this regard but have not been able to be widely used.

Imagine that you have right to direct participation to the democracy from just where you live! Sounds exciting? If you think so, let’s look for a solution together.

So, what does this have to do with Agile? As a solution to the situation I mentioned above, I would like to propose a Scrum and Kanban-based Agile Democracy Method that can be applied on a state scale.

What I have written so far included facts and analysis. The next part contains an Utopia, imaginative hypothetical social design. And this idea of Utopia is not fully finished yet. It can only be considered as a beginning. If you find it worthwhile to contribute / develop the idea, we can all develop it together. If you’re still reading, I ask you to consider this 😊

Problem: Lack of Participation into the Democracy

Solution: Enabling citizens to be more participatory / active in the country’s management with direct democracy without the need for Political Parties by using Agile methods and Digital tools.

Prerequisites:

· Independent Media: Any issue that is not in violation of general social norms should have the opportunity to be expressed freely.

· State Audit Institutions: State Audit Institutions are completely autonomous. And all institutions should be accountable to these audit institutions.

3 Major Institutions of The State;

1. Legislative — Parliament

2. Executive Technocratic government

3. Judiciary — Independent Judges and Legal Entities

1- Legislative;

a. Prerequisites;

· There are no political parties or there is only one party.

· Parliamentarians do not organize around on any ideological axis.

b. Defining Candidates of Representatives

· The notables of each neighborhood (on science, industry, technology, education or social) put their candidacy.

· They prepare and upload their online CVs regarding their candidacy in a standard format via e-government portal.

· Electors reviews the Online CV’s of the Candidates to be able to decide for the next representative of their districts.

· Candidates run their campaign from their own budget.

c. General Elections;

· Elections are renewed every 2 years under normal conditions.

· Elections are held online.

· No need to worry about the election safety because there are no political parties.

· If the residents of the neighborhood are dissatisfied with their representative, at the end of the first year, they can choose one of the other candidates in the last election as the new representative and make Parliament.

Election Process

d. The conclusion of the elections;

· Immediately after the elections, the winner of the election is notified to the voters via push notifications.

· The Elected Representative applies to the Parliament online with a certificate issued to him/her in order to get username and password information for online parliament sessions.

e. Orientation;

· The Elected Parliamentarians will be taken to the 15-day online orientation. During this period, they are told about laws, regulations, and ethical rules regarding legislative activities.

f. Rules for Legislative Activities;

· Legislative activities will be carried out online. In this way, the physical environment expenses, consultant-driver-assistant expenses to be spent by the state for the legislative activities will be eliminated.

· Since the representatives continue to live in their own neighborhoods, they remain in constant communication with their voters.

· Parliamentarians earn a fixed salary from the state. In addition to this, internet-telephone expenses are covered by the state within a limit.

· Parliamentarians wears 2 hats. The first one represents the people of the neighborhood, namely the Stakeholders, as Key Stakeholder. The second is his duty in the Scrum Team in Parliament.

· Parliamentarians are divided into Scrum teams consisting of 20 random people on the first day of the session. They will take part in this team during their tenure. In this way, they become a Cross-Functional team, aware of the country’s agenda, rather than just the problems of their region.

· Apart from the Parliamentarians, the Parliament has a delegation of different areas of expertise that have served for many years at various levels of the state, which is tasked with preparing and submitting General Law Proposals to the parliament. There is no power above these technocrats. They are self-organizing.

· In the first 5th session of the Parliament, each team selects two roles within itself;

i. Product Owner; He / She brings both the requests of the Parliamentarians from their own regions and the works to be discussed by the Legislative delegation to the Parliament Scrum Team.

ii. Scrum Master;

1. Making sure the team;

a. Acting in accordance with the regulations,

b. Attendance in sessions,

2. Performance measurement and reporting,

3. Effective communication with other teams.

g. Legislative Activities;

· Scrum teams pulls and reviews the Legislation Proposals from the Product Backlog.

· Each member of the team can add tasks to the team Backlog.

· Legislative proposals requested by the Legislative Board are automatically assigned to each team’s Backlog as high priority. Due dates are set automatically to the tasks via Monte Carlo forecasting.

· Product Owners and Team prioritizes and refines tasks in the backlog which is consist of Legislative Proposals and other proposals.

· Representatives discuss the Law Proposals with their voters via online surveys to determine what will they vote.

· Voting of the relevant law proposal in parliament will be occurred as blockchain based and online. Results are announced by the Legislative Board.

· Citizens will be notified about the results of the voting and outcomes of the Legislation by push notifications.

· There is no Speaker of the Parliament. An Agile Coach does the necessary checks to ensure that the process is working properly.

Parliament Work
Parliament Team-6 Backlog

2-Executive- Technocratic government;

· The management of the ministries is not in a single minister but in a team of technocrats who are experts in their fields. The members of this team are as follows;

o Product Owner: A technocrat who is in charge of preparing and prioritizing the work list to be handled by the Ministry and discussing the work list of the Council of Ministers together with the Product Owners of All Ministries.

o Scrum Master: He / She is the person who monitors the overall functioning of the ministry team, submits the relevant performance reports to the Parliament, follows the risks and is selected by the Parliament. This person is expected to be an expert on the subject of interest of the relevant ministry.

o Members of the Ministry Team: Product Owners of departments under the Ministry.

· Scaling will be handled via Scrum of Scrums. In other words, the General Manager of each department under the Ministry is a member of the Ministry Team. The Product Owner of the Ministry Team is a member of the Council of Ministers. Product Owners who are members of the Council of Ministers, elect the head of the Executive.

· The Head of the Executive or the title of Prime Minister is not in any upper-subordinate relationship. This committee is chaired by a Product Owner selected by Council of Ministers with the joint decision. And He / She will be representing the Country in highest level in foreign relations.

· Ministries will be held accountable to the Parliament. Parliament can make a change of legislations regarding ministry processes that it is not satisfied with its functioning and change the member that it is not satisfied with its performance. In this way, Technocracy and Democracy can find the opportunity to work together.

Ministry Management Team
Cabinet

3-Judiciary;

· The judiciary has a cross-functional and fully autonomous structure consisting of judges and legal experts.

· It consists of legal people who do not cluster around any ideology that comes to work with purely merit-based methods, acting according to laws and self-consciences.

· The functioning of the judiciary is built on the Kanban Pull System. The courts’ processing capacity is limited to WIP limits. All sides of the case can predict when the case will be resolved via Forecasting. Courts will be able to withdraw and process cases to the extent of their capacities with a pull system. In this way, judicial processes will be faster and more efficient.

Conclusion;

As you can see, we do not need to obey the Parties obligated by Elites, which they are not capable of resolving the real matters. We can manage ourselves on our own by using Agile-Lean Principles. This is a Utopia. But who knows it can be realized in future!

Note: You can find Turkish version of this article via the link .