Since then I've seen a number of different versions of her list of the 8 principles for effectively managing against the tragedy of the commons. However, I've found her original words — as well as many adaptions I've seen since — to be not very accessible. Also, since the original release of the list of 8 principles there has been some research resulting in updates and clarifications to her original list.
This last weekend, at two very different events — one on the future of working and the other on the future of the block chain (used by technologies like bitcoin) — I wanted to share these principles. However, I was unable to effectively articulate them.
So I decided to take an afternoon to re-read the original, as well as more contemporary adaptions, to see if I could summarize this into a list of effective design principles. I also wanted to generalize them for broader use as I often apply them to everything from how to manage an online community to how a business should function with competitors.
I ended up with 10 principles, each beginning with a verb-oriented commandment, followed by the design principle itself.
- DEFINE BOUNDARIES: There are clearly defined boundaries around the common resources of a system from the larger environment.
- DEFINE LEGITIMATE USERS: There is a clearly defined community of legitimate users of those resources.
- ADAPT LOCALLY: Rules for use of resources are adapted to local needs and conditions.
- DECIDE INCLUSIVELY: Those using resources are included in decision making.
- MONITOR EFFECTIVELY: There exists effective monitoring of the system by accountable monitors.
- SHARE KNOWLEDGE: All parties share knowledge of local conditions of the system.
- HOLD ACCOUNTABLE: Have graduated sanctions for those who violate community rules.
- OFFER MEDIATION: Offer cheap and easy access to confict resolution.
- GOVERN LOCALLY: Community self-determination is recognized by higher-level authorities.
- DON'T EXTERNALIZE COSTS: Resource systems embedded in other resource systems are organized in and accountable to multiple layers of nested communities.
I welcome your thoughts on ways to improve on this summarized list. In particular, in #10 I'd like to find a better way to express its complexity (the original is even more obtuse).