I stumbled upon an interesting idea recently while researching medieval social organization. While the topic may sound dry, it's actually fascinating stuff. A welter of communal, democratic and mercantile structures all co-existed. These are essentially the building blocks of the modern nation-state and corporation, along with many alternatives to those options.
I've already written about the peasant revenge gang that was the commune. The idea of a podesta is also pretty fascinating. While they started simply as foreign governors, they became much more interesting. From chronicler Leander Albertus:
The citizens, seeing that there often arose among them quarrels and altercations, whether from favoritism or friendship, from envy or hatred that one had against another, by which their republic suffered great harm, loss and detriment; therefore, they decided, after much deliberation, to provide against these disorders. And thus they began to create a man of foreign birth their chief magistrate, giving him every power, authority and jurisdiction over the city, as well over criminal as over civil causes, and in times of war as well as in times of peace, calling him praetor as being above the others, or podestà., as having every authority and power over the city."
There's a lot of factional strife in the modern era, after all, and some of the reasons for a figure like a podesta are still there. A capable outsider, mutually respected by most of the factions, might be a really good way to run a really fractious place and mediate disputes. Notably, the podesta's powers were later scaled back to mostly judicial functions, and they were intentionally isolated within their palaces to prevent any one group from having control
This idea seems like it could be really useful right now, especially for areas with a lot of distrust and political divisions. I could easily see something like a podesta being great for running a city-state or particular enclave. Outside perspective has its advantages, especially in dispute resolution. Local councils or military leaders still had plenty of power in cities with a podesta, but the respected stranger offered some check on local ambitions and provided a handy long-term perspective.
Importantly, in its most successful days, the podesta was chosen by locals, not imposed from the outside. Otherwise, they would end up terrible at settling disputes and would likely get thrown out by rebellion in the process.