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Minimizing protocol changes: Mitigating regulatory risks and ensuring stability in decentralized systems

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This article was first published on Dr. Craig Wright’s blog, and we republished with permission from the author.

In a decentralized system with a fixed protocol, the unalterable nature of the core rules and structure provides a unique foundation that fosters innovation and creativity. This fixed protocol establishes a solid and reliable framework within which individuals and organizations can confidently explore new development avenues. The stability and predictability offered by a fixed protocol create an environment conducive to innovation.

With clear guidelines and a consistent foundation, innovators can focus on pushing the boundaries and discovering new possibilities. Rather than spending time and resources navigating frequent changes to the protocol itself, they can channel their energy into building upon the existing infrastructure. Certainty in itself is worth more than change for change’s sake.

The fixed protocol acts as a reliable anchor, providing a set of established rules and behaviors that remain constant over time. This stability allows developers and entrepreneurs to build upon the protocol’s foundation, confident in its consistency and reliability. It encourages them to think creatively and find innovative ways to leverage the protocol’s capabilities to address new challenges and meet evolving needs.

By working within the framework of a fixed protocol, innovators can unlock the potential for groundbreaking solutions and transformative ideas. They can explore uncharted territories, identify gaps in the market, and develop unique value propositions that build upon the established protocol’s strengths. Moreover, the fixed protocol provides a level playing field for innovation.

Since the rules and structure remain unchangeable, participants can compete and collaborate based on their creativity, skills, and ingenuity rather than relying on the ability to influence or modify the protocol itself. This fosters healthy competition and encouragees individuals and organizations to think outside the box, seeking innovative approaches to differentiate themselves within the established framework.

Additionally, the stability offered by a fixed protocol allows for long-term planning and investment. Innovators can confidently make strategic decisions, knowing that the core rules and structure of the system will remain intact. This enables them to dedicate resources towards research, development, and implementing innovative solutions without the risk of sudden protocol changes disrupting their progress.

In summary, a decentralized system with a fixed protocol creates an environment that nurtures innovation. The stability and predictability of the protocol provide a foundation for exploration, creativity, and long-term planning. By building upon this fixed protocol, innovators can focus on developing transformative ideas and solutions that leverage the existing infrastructure, leading to breakthrough innovations and the advancement of decentralized systems.

The concept of a fixed protocol aligns closely with the Blue Ocean Strategy, which emphasizes creating uncontested market spaces by offering innovative and differentiated value. In decentralized systems, a fixed protocol can serve as a Blue Ocean (Kim & Mauborgne, 2015), providing a distinct competitive advantage and opening up untapped possibilities for innovation.

By building upon a fixed protocol, innovators can focus on exploring uncharted territories, identifying novel use cases, and developing unique value propositions. This approach encourages the creation of new services, applications, and solutions that leverage the underlying protocol’s stability while offering innovative features or addressing previously unmet needs. Furthermore, the principle of Open Innovation (H. W. Chesbrough, 2003) comes into play within decentralized systems. Open Innovation refers to collaborating with external parties and integrating external knowledge and resources into the innovation process (H. Chesbrough, 2019). In the context of decentralized systems, open innovation is facilitated by the transparent and permissionless nature of the protocol.

Decentralized systems provide a fertile ground for open innovation, allowing external developers, entrepreneurs, and communities to contribute their ideas, expertise, and resources to drive innovation. This collaborative approach enables a diverse range of perspectives and insights to be incorporated, fueling creativity and expanding the boundaries of what can be achieved within the fixed protocol framework.

By combining the concepts of a fixed protocol, Blue Ocean Strategy, and Open Innovation, decentralized systems create an environment that fosters incremental and disruptive innovation. The fixed protocol serves as a reliable foundation, while the Blue Ocean approach encourages the exploration of unexplored opportunities. Open Innovation brings together a diverse community of contributors to push the boundaries of what is possible.

In summary, a fixed protocol within a decentralized system provides a stable base for innovation, aligning with concepts like Blue Ocean Strategy (Kim & Mauborgne, 2015) and Open Innovation (H. W. Chesbrough, 2003). By building upon the fixed protocol, innovators can explore uncharted territory, offer differentiated value, and collaborate with external parties to drive forward the boundaries of decentralized systems. This combination creates an environment that nurtures continuous innovation and sets the stage for developing groundbreaking applications and services within decentralized ecosystems.

The control exerted by a centralized group over a system can have significant implications, including the potential classification of the system as a regulated security. When a central entity possesses substantial authority to influence and change the protocol, it raises concerns from a financial and legal perspective. Frequent modifications to the protocol can introduce uncertainties and regulatory compliance issues, potentially subjecting the system to additional regulatory requirements and oversight. In such cases, minimizing changes to the protocol can be driven by the aim of maintaining a stable and predictable environment that avoids triggering regulatory scrutiny and potential legal complexities. By limiting protocol changes, decentralized systems can strive for a more secure and compliant framework, ensuring a smoother regulatory landscape while providing stability and confidence to participants.

In contrast to a fixed protocol, it is essential to recognize that certain reported decentralized systems, such as Ethereum and Bitcoin Core (BTC), undergo regular protocol changes. Such modifications, though aimed at addressing scalability, security, or other concerns, can introduce a degree of centralization and limit the scope for innovation. While Ethereum and Bitcoin Core have undoubtedly brought significant advancements to the blockchain space, the frequent protocol changes and the influence of development teams have raised questions about the extent of their decentralization and openness to innovation. Striking a delicate balance between protocol stability and the ability to incorporate advancements while maintaining decentralization remains an ongoing challenge in pursuing truly decentralized systems that can fully unleash the potential for innovation.


Chesbrough, H. (2019). Open Innovation Results: Going Beyond the Hype and Getting Down to Business. Oxford University Press.
Chesbrough, H. W. (2003). Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology. Harvard Business Press.
Kim, W. C., & Mauborgne, R. (2015). Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant. Harvard Business Review Press.

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