Brain Dump #4 - When and How Do We Scale?

Brain Dump #4 - When and How Do We Scale

Been a while since I’ve done one of these! Let’s get started.

Introduction

You may have noticed that BanklessDAO is still keeping a low profile:

  • Our liquidity is quite tight. Our Uniswap and Sushiswap pools have incredibly low liquidity, with Sushi having a 2% depth of only 8,000 USD.
  • We’ve decided to keep the membership threshold at 35K $BANK (currently over 3,000 USD)
  • We’ve stayed away from treasury diversification and capital raises, unlike our social token counterparts at ForeFront and FWB.

I see these types of decisions as “scaling” decisions. Ways that will “open the floodgates” for people to get more exposure to the DAO and $BANK. I want to believe this is deliberate - that we’re still in the “stealth” phase where these public-facing decisions are not yet on our radar.

The rest of this post is an argument for keeping a lid on scaling decisions until roughly the end of Season 2 (Yes, I’m already planning for Season 3 :grin:).

Getting Out of Stealth Mode

So, BanklessDAO is still in stealth mode. In order for us to hit that flywheel that will let us scale without any major hiccups, there are 5 spokes that I think we can nail by the end of Season 2:
:white_check_mark: Governance
:white_check_mark: Coordination
:x: Project Management
:x: Onboarding
:x: Compensation

:white_check_mark: Governance

Governance is the foundation that we build on. It defines how we make macro level decisions and allocate funding. 0xMiel put it well when he said:

Frankly, I think we nailed the majority of our governance flows on the first try. Our original S1 spec is astoundingly detailed and has decentralized decision making baked in:

In S1, we adopted a more centralized approach. In S2, we progressively decentralized, and we will continue to do so with time.

:white_check_mark: Coordination

Our fundamental coordination layer are our guilds. In S0, guilds were prototypical. In S1, we saw them flourish. When people join the DAO, they go to the guilds first. Guilds are largely responsible for staffing projects and capturing talent that comes into the DAO.

They hold weekly meetings. Segment Discord channels by activities. Have elected positions, both generalized and guild specific. There’s even discussion about cross-guild roles, like the Creative Council.

Dev guild took a major step by creating their own newsletter and the Writers Guild has earned revenue through external client work.

:x: Project Management

Projects are how we move towards our Mission. But I believe we’re still learning how to manage projects. Recently, I wrote a post on how projects should be scoped, staffed, and executed:

In S2, this workflow will be formalized as part of the S2 Spec. But for now, project management is a bit weak. There are some exceptions that have excellent project managers, but projects are often understaffed, specifications are weak, and updates are captured disparately on community calls and meeting notes. It’s difficult to get a concise view of what’s happening at the DAO.

We do have a projects dashboard that I created some months back that has been sporadically updated, but hasn’t been curated and managed. This season, the Ops Guild will make this a focus – or at least I will.

:x: Onboarding

@Behold and @angyts have done a fantastic job with First Quest. First Quest is our onboarding procedure.
Screenshot 2021-09-15 192651

So far, we’ve seen an explosion in Guest Passes and members responding in #get-involved (shoutout to Viking and Grendel for constantly responding to members) and a sustained spike in our newsletter subscription, as per the instructions in #first-quest:

Their S2 proposal goes beyond the MVP stage and is even more ambitious. By the end of S2, we’ll have a scalable way to get people directly involved with where they are interested, such as guild specific first quests, talent scouts, and regular onboarding webinars.

:x: Compensation

The biggest question mark is compensation. This is a big focus on S2, as I suggested in the Onwards to Season 2 post.

In order for us to retain talent, we need to make sure people are properly compensated for the work they’re putting in. We have a number of levers:

  • Hourly pay
  • Lump sum
  • Coordinape
  • Revenue share
  • KPIs
  • Full time employees

I’m working on another large forum post on compensation. For now, let’s assume that by the end of S2, we’ll have a stable idea of how work will be compensated and which levers are appropriate to use when.


Together, these 5 spokes create a steady foundation for us to really scale. To really hit the gas pedal, attract talent, staff projects, grow guilds, create new membership perks, and really take this experiment we’re on the next level. If any of these 5 spokes are weak or unstable, we will hit major points of friction that can grind us to a halt.

Hitting Scale

I believe that by the end of S2, we’ll have solidified the three remaining flywheel spokes. So what then? If we’re using conventional growth terminology, Season 3 is when we go “public” and allocate resources that will attract public attention.

At the very least, that means:

  • A capital raise to diversify our treasury out of BANK. – This is deeply tied to my future post on compensation.
  • Deepen liquidity
  • Start allocating resources towards creating membership perks, thereby driving reasons to own BANK and be a member
  • Seasonal NFT memberships
  • Possibly lowering membership threshold

(Details are deliberately sparse because they don’t matter right now. This is an end of S2/beginning of S3 topic.)

Together, these actions will bring a lot of attention to our DAO. It will bring new blood, investors, media, innovators, idealists, and more. We’ll move out of stealth mode and really take the world by storm.

Thoughts?

  • Strongly agree
  • Somewhat agree
  • Unsure
  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree

0 voters

9 Likes

Super impressed with this brain dump. Well thought out, really explained, and you seem to have the pulse of this DAO.

I have been a bit newer to participation in this DAO, but have been paying close attention to everything happening in FWB. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I felt FWB was farther ahead of Bankless, but I think you really hit the nail on the head with this post.

In FWB, the bi-weekly townhall has great engagement, the projects are well coordinated and seem to move ahead at near lightning speed and it’s still early days. Perhaps FWB is less decentralized than Bankless, but I don’t think that is entirely important this early on, and you point out some really interesting thoughts about why in your post and I agree.

I also think that treasury diversification is necessary. Spending Bankless on everything is not a good long term game plan for obvious reasons. The lack of liquidity and utility is a problem long term (it’s still early and I’m super confident the talent within Bankless can begin to create revenues, grow liquidity and create more utility).

Onboarding is key to the right kind of membership growth and I think what FWB is doing with seasonal NFT memberships is interesting, but has to be coupled with a really strong and competent onboarding process.

Regarding compensation, this is massively important. I like this post from Adam Cochran: https://twitter.com/adamscochran/status/1305200893319618560?lang=en

I view key contributors, devs, employees of the DAO, etc. as vital as a dev to sushi. They have to be compensated and compensated well if we want this DAO to flourish. I like some of the ideas around GIVE tokens and coordinape experiements - time will tell if they are working or not, but I like that we are playing around with this ideas.

Lastly, and I’m sorry for so many FWB comparisons, but we launched the FWB Metaverse channel for people that were interested in somehow creating an FWB city in the Metaverse. The project does not yet have funding, but it felt so organic the way this came to be. We reached out to key people in FWB with a proposal and it was immediately considered and early direction was given. We’ve stalled a bit during FWB fundraise situation, but the flow to participate and contribute was really open. The Hackathon seems like it was a great event, and FWB is just firing on all cylinders atm. I know Bankless can do the same with the immense talent we have here

Thanks so much for your contributions.

RG

Nicely summed up @frogmonkee and indeed shows thorough knowledge of the topic!

I’ve noticed you’ve framed the problem in terms of internal processes, which are super important , but I would like to step back for a moment and also try to flip its on its head. Our mission is ‘We will help the world go Bankless by creating user-friendly onramps for people to discover decentralized financial technologies through education, media, and culture.’ Our mission is very outward-facing.

If this were a ‘traditional’ tech startup, we would be all about having clear KPIs related to how many people we have onboarded onto DeFi, how much awareness we have raised, how broad is our media reach, etc. As these KPIs keep trending in the right direction, at each milestone we would consider raising X amount of capital, in order to scale the initiatives that have proven effective in moving us closer to our goals.

My question would be - what do we currently consider the most important projects in helping us achieve our mission, what KPIs have we hit with them, and how will we be able to scale them faster, if we raise X capital or increase the compensation of people involved to Y? If we can’t answer these questions, then we are at the risk of throwing more money (vc capital / compensation / marketing spend / etc) onto something that’s not ready to benefit from it just yet, which can be very counterproductive, in startups.

I’m well aware that the world of DAOs is somewhat more chaotic than conventional startups and, priorities are less clearly defined, etc, but this is me thinking aloud - do we need to focus more on the project side of things and the results these are delivering, before worrying too much about ‘going public’?

I think FWB is an exception (as far as I’m aware they raised a lot of money based mostly on talent pool rather than any specific product or roadmap and they are hoping this will come second); but as far as I know, most other DAOs that are really succeeding so far are laser focused on 1-2 key initiatives or flagship products that everybody is rallied around, and trying to figure out how to scale.

I would love to open a dialog and understand better our stance on this.

2 Likes

I’d like to start by saying that this isn’t just any brain dump, it’s a gold mine!

I’m offering my 0.02 BANK

  • A capital raise to diversify our treasury out of BANK. – This is deeply tied to my future post on compensation.
  • are we considering not just compensating in BANK?
  • are there non-token forms of compensation that we might be considering?
  • Start allocating resources towards creating membership perks, thereby driving reasons to own BANK and be a member
  1. Attend a Governance, Coordination, and Working meeting, take minutes to prove attendance and participation (lowers the barrier to participation as people are shy to speak up)
  2. Contribute to a budget proposal
  3. Write a review of an existing Guild proposal for feedbacl
  • Possibly lowering membership threshold
  • this then feeds into the membership threshold problem as most people do feel intimidated to take part which might impact diversity of ideas

Thank you for thinking about these perennial issues as we discover how to create organisations that work for all of us!

1 Like

Damn…your brain dumps are other people’s mirror posts.

I think you’ve got a great pulse of where we are and the 5 major spokes of the flywheel make sense.

In conversations with colleagues in the DAO, I have found myself wondering how we engage with questions of Strategy. What are we going to say “no” to as we scale? Should our resources be concentrated in a certain direction?

Another thought: If our mission is to onboard 1B to DeFi/Bankless how are we measuring this? (I’m posing this question to the Analytics Guild as I type this)

I’d love to see a consideration of these issues as we make our way through season 2.

Appreciate your brain dumps as always.

1 Like

I think everything here is absolutely right.

I have some comments on project management.

  1. a lot of our “projects” are too loosely defined. A lot are still in the scoping phase or research phase.

  2. a project comes to being only when it has a deliverable AND a deadline. So half the “projects” unfortunately do not fit the bill.

  3. we have to aggressively prune these projects as it will produce a drag on our talent pool.

  4. we have to actively pay for and roster in trained project managers. (Who are actually different from leaders and project champions) (in the projects that have so far worked, is because our champions have all these skill sets rolled into one)

  5. in the absence of a project manager, the champion should at least undergo basic training in project management.

  6. indeed the remuneration needs to be laid outright before embarking on something. I think some issues arose because there was misaligned expectations around this.

6 Likes

Gr8 scope frog. I particularly like our onboarding development (First Quest) as a shining light to S1 accomplishment. Guilds are crystalizing. Moves are in the making. - Frank

3 Likes

@frogmonkee I love this post and feel it does a great job of raising awareness on some existing tensions as well as framing what stage we’re at as a DAO. I like that we’re not yet raising funds for scaling as I truly think we’re at a ‘germination’ phase --what you call stealth…but we’re not so stealth given our twitter amplifications of the awesome stuff we’re incubating here :wink:

  1. During this ‘germination’ phase we really do need to tidy up and absorb the organic scale that arrived along the way. I think focusing on project lifecycle clarity and transparency will really take us next level as a foundational collective ‘skill’. Reason: DAOs are very Rhizomatic in their structure and the more defined a pathway/framework (be it governance, values, project lifecycles, guild practices, etc.) the more efficiently we can coordinate and collaborate. We don’t want to aggressively set those standards top-down…but when we notice tensions as you have here to critical building blocks like talent onboarding and project coordination it’s time to incentivize more aggressively some bottom-up experiments and knowledge sharing to see if a DAO standard can emerge quickly.
  2. I’m extremely keen to help with the concepts of mapping out some more defined project lifecycle stages in a generalized framework that encourages better definition of which projects are at which stage. As well as some knowledge sharing of how projects are currently experimenting with governing, remaining accountable to their commitments, and transitioning between stages
  3. I believe ops-guild could perhaps support by observing emerging healthy patterns and helping them be elevated DAOwide. Grants committee can help with improved lightweight accountability ‘heartbeats’ for projects that are funded and have grants to form more formal commitments between grant committee and grantees (I have some cool ideas on this that involve a Discord bot like DEGEN + Front-End like Sobol.io to make it easy and consistent that would be fun to jam on).
  4. I believe that if we focus simply on clear lifecycle stages + accountability pulse, there’s lots of room for experimentation at the project level regarding tactical ‘project management’ approach. From my experience this is extremely important. Each project will have unique needs regarding this and setting up a PMO (project management office) type guild or doing training around project management is likely not going to work. Worse yet might infuse a number of really bad habits that cause massive bureaucratic overhead for our DAO. I have held roles as a project manager and/or product manager most of my 15 year tech career and have found that unlearning the toxic McKinsey taught Gantt Chart dependancy mapping crap and/or the Scrum.org, SAFe, LESS, dogma is harder than starting from scratch and just learning to sense and respond as a team effectively. It’s important to focus on solid communication and collective learning practices OVER useless rituals and make work documentation. All that mapping and documentation and related meetings is rendered meaningless as soon as you start and every minute you build thereafter. Instead, I’d suggest that the role needed is project/meeting facilitator, and the skills needed are an arsenal of techniques to synchronously and asynchronously surface the wisdom of the team and help the collectively transmute it into an action plan that has team consent (e.g. resource of patterns: Liberating Structures - Liberating Structures Menu) Please remember that most of the incumbent project management BS was set by someone who made money by consulting to teach you their unnecessarily complicated approach that sold well to the executive command and control boardroom folks. Select small pieces of it are very useful, but it’s a lot of work (and experience) required to trim out the ‘bloatware’.
  5. Bonus points if we get really good and showing talent where emerging funded projects are, and roles/skillsets required so we can assist in the critical talent flows towards these projects (like a onboarding 2.0 maneuver)

Feeling strongly aligned to what you’re laying down here Frog. Raising capital too soon can slow you down, not speed you up when the ‘house isn’t in order’. – Moloch feeds off of capital in systems with nascent coordination infra. Being a great DAO that magically turns ideas incentivized by grants into mission aligned revenue producing projects with coherent collaborative teams is the goal imo. Investment dollars will flow to us on our terms if we can do this. Why?, because we wouldn’t need them. We’d be able to look at capital as a strategic partner to pour gas on the fire, not a necessity of survival. That said, can’t wait for what comes in Season 2. We seem to be something amazing and each Season we’re doing more and more incredible things. Guild governance is blowing my mind at end of Season 1; let’s make Season 2 the season of the project. Season 3 :fire: is inevitable I think. LFG.

[clearly passionate about these topics, DM me if you want to idea jam]

7 Likes

The question of compensation, which is 100% subjective, is central to activating the flywheel. Speaking from my (singular) perspective as member of the Edu Guild, I don’t currently see a path to justifying a deeper investment of time. Not that it can’t come, just not explicit for me yet.

Be the BANK you want to see in the world!

Love the brain dump! Love the comments! Love the bDAO and the direction it is headed. Fantastic progress. Have the time but not the talent nor skill set to contribute more. Can add my opinions, thoughts and good wishes for great progress and continued success. Having a ball watching listening and tipping. Very motivating and positive experience so far. Looking forward to the start of Season 2 and the growth of this community of goodness. Press on frens.

3 Likes

I think you’re right.
To me you’re raising a very important symptom (lack of incentives to motivate deeper participation)
My 2 Wei on a potential root cause is that Projects need clearer funding and governance (or at least to the same magnitude and clarity that guilds have). Reason: projects are where we need to incentivize the flow of talent and with clear funding/governance at the project layer I believe that compensation solutions will naturally flow from that. I’ve seen this play out on the Bounties Board project and have noticed that Guilds in Season1 nailed this, but since projects are the primary value creation mechanism for the DAO it’s the projects that need to be focused on to get this ‘flywheel’ pumpin’.

2 Likes

This and incentives to commit and deliver quality (not just time) is key to moving forward 100% agreed. Also as your’re indicating, if a project goes for a round 2 founding or a large round 1 we should have milestones or KPI based payments along the way and not one time large payments.

2 Likes

Hi all - I’ve read every reply and been meaning to respond, but busy with S2 prep, guild responsibilities, and starting at the LLC.

I will revisit this topic and get things moving once we launch season 2 in a couple of weeks.

Yes, love the idea of milestone based payments for larger asks and performance based hold backs / unlocks

Could this be organized as bounties with total budgets and sub-targets within the bounty? Total target incentives adding up to the whole?

I really appreciated @frogmonkee post, many replies such as @Bpetes (mind blowing), @tommyolofsson on KPIs and many others on how to incentivize projects without excess funding or excess dispersion and on how it is necessary that project managers receive the appropriate support to be able to carry out and complete what is foreseen and agreed.

Personally I think that the OpsGuild is the body that has to give this support as well as the Treasury Guild being able to support and guide the distribution of the funds made available to the projects.

I agree on always proceeding in a light and linear way within an understandable framework that encourages the realization and delivery of projects.

1 Like

whoa thanks for the mindblowing post. obviously an insider.

thanks for sharing your valuable insights.

totally agree on all our points and have learnt so much just reading and digesting your posts.

Can you suggest how we can strengthen this projects framework?

sometimes i just feel some projects are very stretched.

Like if i’m the project originator: like someone who conceived the ideas and has the big picture.
And then I am also expected to execute: like someone who goes into the weeds and set deliverable and hand out mini tasks and grab talents by the neck.
And for devs, sometimes, they are the ones fighting bug reports and having to build new features.

I find that all these roles can be difficult to reconcile in a same person.

1 Like

Sorry for delay in replying, been really ‘heads down’ in the S1->S2 transitions and BountyBoard stuff.

I really appreciate the way you’re mentioning how ‘stretched’ folks are in projects today and how bandwidth is a real issue as people are often wearing tons of hats to get the project going. Don’t think there’s a single solution to this but here’s a quick list of some ideas:

  1. At time of project scoping (scoping squad) a deeper definition of ‘all the hats’ to be worn creates more defined invitation for others to join in (even if at first 1 person wears multiple). S0 projects were pretty organic in formation with small teams and people doing all the roles; but as new projects petition for grants they can be a bit more formal in definition of talent needed and perhaps even ‘bounty’ the roles to non-scoping squad members to quickly attract core-team
  2. There’s constantly new talent coming in wishing they knew where they could help out. Would be amazing if we had ‘open roles’ mapped out and they could quickly search for and find them. This way projects strapped for talent could essentially put their roles up on a ‘job board’ not unlike bountyboard but for project based work
  3. Progressive onboarding paths: I think projects should reserve some of their seasonal budget for bounties and use the bountyboard to attract new talent. Kinda like a ‘try-out’; great way to bring new folks in on small tasks, integrate them into team comms/meetings and offer up a role/participation in the team coordinape at a certain threshold of participation (kinda like a project based L2 nomination)

Those are some quick ideas. Thoughts?