Cardano Improvement Proposals (CIPs)
Individuals with improvement proposals for Cardano can structure those thoughts into CIPs (Cardano Improvement Proposals).
A CIP has an expected format: the proposals structure is templated so as to facilitate discussion and reviewing. This makes it so that other community members can jump in and discuss specific improvement proposals or points in a proposal. The proposals and their history are also publicly available and maintained on the Cardano Foundation CIPs' Github repository.
For the non-GitHub crowd: an auto-generated companion site is being worked on at cips.cardano.org
CIPs themselves go through semi-formal processing: CIP Editors (IOHK/CF/EM/Community) hold regular meetings to discuss and review proposals. The meeting notes are public, meetings biweekly. Authors are invited to participate and provide feedback while conversations often happen asynchronously in the Cardano forum CIPs section and/or in the Github pull requests themselves.
Think of the CIP repository as a collection of helpful tools - there might be multiple hammers, screwdrivers... maybe some work well together, some do the same things, and some just won't work together: You get to choose which CIPs your implementation aligns with. We expect the community will gravitate towards some more than other, and propose new ones they want to share, and some naturally cluster - emerging behaviors and decentralization!
Keep in mind: A CIP merged into the repository does not constitute any kind of endorsement beyond structural and apparent well-meaning.
The CIP process exist to enable, promote and facilitate structured public discussions for Process, Standard or Informational Cardano proposals in a source-controlled, Foundation-managed, GitHub repository. By creating an open-source collection of CIPs with and for the community, we work to empower current and upcoming implementations, and the overall Cardano ecosystem.
For more details, please refer to CIP1.