June 13, 2003

The Properties of a Good Consitution

Following The Economist:

A good constituion is short, simple and clear. It avoids attention to detail, but lays out a set of processes for making decisions and for giving attention to detail. The processes it lays out can be changed but not easily or without significant deliberations. A good constitution sets out the goals of the organization it guides and the means for achiveing those goals.

A constitution should avoit detail because it is likely to get much of it wrong. Constituions need to have long time scales in order to engender confidence that the governing framework is stable. Thus the details need to be handled at a "lower" level. It is a mistake to allow decision-making scales to become strongly linked. That is, details must be able to be adjusted as learning occurs without changing the constituion.