About the Foundation for Public Code

Customized governance workshop

This index


  1. The basics
    1. Starting state
    2. Scenario
    3. Calamities
  2. The outcome
    1. Reflections

A customized governance workshop can be used for a codebase that already has some form of governance in place, or is considering a draft proposal. The state of the governance may suggest what to focus the workshop on, but its strength is leveraging the governance game to socialize understanding of the governance. As such, it can be used to:

  • simply sketch out a currently well functioning mechanism
  • talk through an initial draft or proposed changes
  • surface tensions, pain points, and differing understandings

It may also be used to talk through different scenarios to stress test the governance mechanism.

The basics

The general guidelines of how to run the governance game can be applied with a few exceptions.

Starting state

Instead of starting from a state card, ask the participants to visualize how (the draft for) governance currently works, using the available cards to describe the actors that are involved, and what relationships they have. This step may be quite revealing, so let this take time as it’s a good opportunity for the participants to explain how they percieve status quo. If you can and it makes sense, prepare custom cards for the specific actors in the codebase as it will be easier for participants to relate to them.


The scenario cards are not needed, instead the real situation is used. If you can get someone in the community to summarize the current situation in the codebase, including why this workshop was necessary, it can serve as the scenario setting.


Use the calamity cards as is or as inspiration to make new ones. Try to capture real fears or questions from the community during the preparation of the workshop. The more applicable a calamity is to the codebase, the better the discussions will be.

The outcome

In general, let the game take its course and time. Constructing a “complete” model or finishing all the calamaties is not the objective. Instead, focus on working towards a shared understanding of the governance, or at least identifying where the views of differ.


After the calamities, give the participants a few minutes to reflect on what they just did. Then let everyone write three improvements they would like to make to the current governance document on post-its. Share the findings in the group by having everyone explain their top priority of those three. Cluster the post-its by topic and group those that are identical. Ask everyone to turn one or more of their post-its into issues in the issue tracker for the codebase.