[Draft 1] Governance Solutions Engineer Program

Title: [Draft 1] Governance Solutions Engineer Program
Authors: frogmonkee#6855
Squad: frogmonkee#6855
Date Created: December 16th, 2021
Date Posted: December 16th, 2021

SUMMARY

This proposal, in its primitive draft form, seeks to address two important challenges for the DAO:

  • Contributor Retention
  • Strategic Prioritization

It outlines the need for these two problem spaces to have a dedicated team responsible for creating effective solutions that aligns with the community’s sentiment.

Deliverables are defined as a thorough and community-aligned specification in order to update our governance procedures and create room for growth. A close comparable is the original Season Specification that continues to act as an important cornerstone in our governance model.

As such, this proposal calls for:

  • Three elected members of the DAO to lead these two problem spaces, known as Governance Solutions Engineer (Gov SE). Each Gov SE will be granted 100,000 BANK as an initial allocation in Season 3. At the end of the Season, when deliverables are presented to the DAO, the DAO will vote on whether to apply a bonus of up to 200,000 BANK for a total maximum of 300,000 per member
  • 500,000 BANK set aside for each problem space to incentivize participation in working groups, led by the three elected members. This 500,000 BANK would be allocated to the working group and distributed as per the group’s decision, not at the Gov SE’s discretion.

BACKGROUND

When building an organization, there’s this mental model of working in the organization vs working on the organization. I highlighted this distinction in Onwards to Season 3! under the Season 3: Revenge of Moloch heading, so I’ll just quickly summarize here:

As organizations grow and scale, their underlying operational model must change too. As new organizational behavior and information arise, systems must adapt and modify. Our current operational model - grants, guilds, projects, proposals, compensation - was largely ideated between May 4th and June 8th.

Six months in, we’re seeing where the existing operational model is insufficient:

  • In Season 2, the Grants Committee ran out of funding with a month left in the Season, despite increasing the budget by an additional 40% from Season 1
  • Projects have come back for funding without a clear way to evaluate whether these projects should be funded a second or third time.
  • Community voting does not reflect critical evaluation. We largely vote yes without taking the time to evaluate the full scope of a proposal.
  • (Related to above) People do not have the bandwidth to participate in proposal discussion
  • Grants Committee sometimes does not have sufficient subject matter expertise to evaluate project scope (namely developer projects)
  • We have no way to evaluate the value that a project brings do the DAO when coming back for funding
  • Compensation was set at 1000 BANK/hr, back when BANK average 5 cents per token. Today, we sit at 15.
  • Compensation varies heavily in the DAO between standard roles like Talent Scout, Guild Coordinator, Secretary, etc.
  • L2 contributor status doesn’t accommodate for Guest Pass members that have shown themselves worthy of L2 status.

The points above reflect challenges that come from outgrowing our current framework. Not to mention the new challenges unforeseen:

  • SubDAOs
  • Token utility within the ecosystem (eg. Driving utility to BANK token, like using it to make purchases or gating content behind a token threshold via Mintgate)

As a quick aside, I see the problems broken down into two main categories:

  • Contributor Retention - How do we properly reward active DAO contributors, accounting for the varying skillsets and time commitment people are making?
  • Strategic Prioritization - How do we, as a DAO, learn how to say no?

My point here is that, in Season 0, we directed our attention in working on the organization and building systems/processes. In Season 1 and Season 2, all those same people worked in the organization. Now, we have new information and behavior that are forcing us to re-evaluate those systems/processes that we built.

Now you may stop and say, “Well okay, why don’t we just spin up a working group in this…? Let’s just find a bunch of people interested in solving these problems and let’s get on with it!” Good question! I tried. Nearly 3 months ago, I created this forum post: ALL HANDS ON DECK: Compensation and PLM Working Groups. In it, I called for a group of interested parties to help scope out our inadequate compensation guidance. The result? Despite having 15 people signal their interest, we only met three times and we delivered on this flimsy forum post.

I see this failure resulting from two factors:

  1. Our working group did not have explicit signaling from the DAO that this was a major priority. We’re all fucking busy in our respective niches. Without an explicit mandate from the DAO saying “This is important, we need people on this project,” it’s really difficult to activate people to redirect their resources and attention on this matter.
  2. I did not have the time and bandwidth to lead this working group. I was active in a number of different places in the DAO, and without some social signal and explicitly incentivization, it eventually fell down my priority list.

Given my experience here, I want to propose a new model - One that creates an explicit mandate from the DAO to focus on these two problem areas and properly incentivizes participation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like to introduce the Governance Solutions Engineer Program

MISSION & VALUES ALIGNMENT

I’m going to be lazy here, but in the Onwards to Season 3! forum post, I did a quick temp check on this topic with overwhelming support of a focus on Governance and Coordination:

SPECIFICATION

What are Gov SEs?

In the failures section just above, I pointed out how I did not have the bandwidth to coordinate/lead the Compensation working group. As such, the working group ended up falling to the wayside on my list of priorities.

Given this outcome, I think it’s important to explicitly assign coordinator responsibility. We need people who view it as their #1 priority to lead these working groups. As such, I define Gov SEs as:

  • Governance-minded DAO members elected to spec out a comprehensive solution to mission-critical DAO infrastructure challenges.
  • These members are not to operate in silos and make decisions on behalf of the DAO. They are to work with the DAO to find the optimal solution by progressively designing solutions, presenting them to the DAO, capturing feedback, and iterating.
  • Gov SEs have appropriate context for the problems they are working on and properly embody the values of the DAO. They are trusted by their social reputation for acting in the best interest in the DAO.
  • Gov SEs must make this their #1 priority. They may hold one other leadership position, but that’s it.
    • For example, I am the Ops Guild Coordinator and (defacto) Writers Guild Governance Coordinator. I would have to step down from one of those positions in order to be a Gov SE.
    • They may participate in lower order activities. Eg, if I wanted to write a piece of the Newsletter, I can do that. But I cannot accept a role on the newsletter team.
    • Gov SEs cannot be on the Grants Committee (not 100% sure on this… what do you think?)

A successful Gov SE program should result in major clout for Gov SEs in the DAO. At the risk of sounded vain… what if there were more frogmonkees? Ooh ooh aah aah motherfucker.

What is the Scope of Work?

Right now, I think the scope of work should be limited to our most existential threats: (1) Contributor Retention and (2) Strategic Prioritization. We do have other important challenges that we can expect down the pipeline, but given this is the first time testing a program like this, I would caution against taking on more we can chew without testing this first.

Contributor Retention

  • Refining the Guest Pass, L1, and L2 system to be more inclusive
    • Includes ways to offboard contributors that no longer meet the activity/recognition threshold
  • Create a compensation framework that can be updated and:
  • Envisions a new incentive model that rewards long-term contributors that stick with the DAO for over a year.

Strategic Prioritization

  • Create an evaluation framework to help the DAO make strategic decisions with treasury and grant funding
    • ie. Critically thinking about how projects fit into our Mission and Vision or directing people to similar projects
    • This would include standardizing what Guilds are able to ask for vs. what needs to be spun out into a project
  • Create a new evaluation process that optimizes for both community consensus and responsible decision making
    • Ie. Introducing reviews by subject matter experts or a group to align project specifications with how other projects operate
  • Refine and formalize the funding mechanism in alignment with the evaluation framework and processes
    • ie. Can we decentralize the grants committee?

Deliverables would include a detailed specification that we can begin to implement in Season 4. The closest comparable is the original Season Specification that still serves as an important guiding document for the DAO to this day.

This deliverable would have to be in its final form, if not extremely close. The idea is to have something we can implement by the end of Season 3 going into Season 4. As such, community feedback must already be included. I want to acknowledge that this community feedback can take time but if Draft 1 is done properly, much of the community consensus will already be aligned.

Gov SEs and Working Groups

Earlier, I said about Gov SEs:

These members are not to operate in silos and make decisions on behalf of the DAO. They are to work with the DAO to find the optimal solution by progressively designing solutions, presenting them to the DAO, capturing feedback, and iterating.

One method of working with the DAO is to create a working group around these two problem spaces. As such, Gov SEs will have to work publicly in these working group. Part of their responsibility will be coordinating these working groups, somewhere between a Guild Coordinator and Project Manager.

Elections

For this initial run of an explicitly tasked and incentivized working group, I want to propose three Gov SEs for these two problem spaces. These three people can organize however they wish to, whether they assign one person to each problem space and one person as a “floater” or tackle it all together.

For electing these individuals, I propose that:

  • We have a two week submission period
  • Submissions must include:
    • Discord handle
    • Reason for applying
    • Qualifications
    • Detailed thoughts on how you would solve these two problem spaces
    • Sponsor(s) (i.e., those who will second your nomination - the more the merrier!)
  • Once all submissions are in, we move to Snapshot and use the weighted voting mechanic to elect three members over the span of a week.

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

Maximum funding for this initiative would be: 1,900,000 BANK. Any BANK unallocated will go back to the treasury at the end of this program.

1,900,000 BANK is broken down as:

  1. Each Gov SE would be guaranteed 100,000 BANK salary
  2. At the end Season 3, the DAO will vote for whether Gov SEs deserve a bonus. This bonus will reflect the delivery on a comprehensive solution that the community is happy with. Bonus will be a maximum of 200,000 BANK. Voters will be able to voted in increments of 50,000 (eg. 0, 50K, 100K, 150K, and 200K). Bonus will be calculated as a Total Weighted Average based on the results of these votes
  3. The two working groups (for each problem space) will have an allocated budget of 500,000 BANK to collectively decide how to allocate and compensate members of the working group. Gov SEs may not draw from this allocation.
  4. All funds will be held by a separate multi-sig that does not include Gov SEs as signers (perhaps the Grants Committee if Gov SEs cannot be on the Grants Committee either?)

If you think this amount is too much… well have you looked at the scope of work?! Not only is it massive, but the value being provided upon successful delivery far outweighs the cost.

SUCCESS METRICS OR KPIS

Delivery of two detailed specifications by the end of Season 3 that already has community feedback folded into in order to execute and implement during Season 4.

NEXT STEPS

  • Align on the specification of this program
  • Determine where funding will come from - Treasury or Grants Committee?
  • Hold elections (this can be done in tandem with deciding where funds will come from)

SQUAD BACKGROUND

Bruh. Really?

POLL (Temp Check)

  • Strongly Agree
  • Slightly Agree (light modifications)
  • Neutral
  • Slightly Disagree (heavy modifications)
  • Strongly Disagree

0 voters

6 Likes

Thanks for taking time to think critically about our issues enough to enumerate these two existential threats. I think proper compensation to a team whose job is to help projects finish is a super idea, and would be a positive feedback loop.

1 Like

Amazing write up! I am just currently writing the Governance primer for the rollup and this document is what I refer to as " bDAO being a very forward thinking group that’s great at identifying and assessing the various hurdles we come up to on a regular basis, then designing solutions as we go! We are lucky to have you snoop froggy

4 Likes

This is absolutely necessary. We need our governance framework updated to reflect our current. Compensation is going to be extremely critical to ensuring the DAO continues to grow and meet strategic goals and initiatives. It is because i will put through my hat into the election pool for one of the three positions. Thank you for writing this up @frogmonkee

1 Like

I absolutely agree that Grants Committee (GC) members should not serve on this panel, nor should Governance Solutions Engineers (GSEs) serve on the GC. Furthermore, I think it makes sense to ask the GC to operate the GSE Program multisig. In this way, there is a tight interaction between the two bodies which may benefit from one another. In utilizing working groups to tackle these problems, it makes sense that these working groups also help provide an added level to GC project evaluations by way of relevant expertise.

Overall, I see this as a huge benefit to the DAO, as we’ve needed the results of this kind of focused effort for some time now.

1 Like

I’m glad to read these thoughts about problems and evolution. I don’t know if this can be as powerful as expected, but it is necessary to try.

Fantastic! Please let us know if DAO Dash and the Analytics guild can help these GSEs with data-driven analysis of our membership behaviors.

3 Likes

Excellent post for a problem well deserving of proper organizing and incentives.

Quick hits:

  • IMO, GC member can do this job. I’m not sure there’s a conflict of interest, so long as GC is their only other major role.
  • I also think its reasonable to allow GSEs to sit on their multisig; these are deeply trusted individuals in plain sight with clear rules of engagement.
  • The bonus structure is a very nice experiment :+1:

I wonder how we can create mechanics to define these challenges and prioritize them for the GSEs, especially if we would renew this program in S4 with new problems to solve. Not to say that Contributor Retention & Strategic Prioritization aren’t important or even the first things to work on, just want to improve how we can aggregate and prioritize the existential problems.

So, I agree with the fundamentals of the program: the GSEs, WG, funding, elections, and the need for it . I just want to gain some clarity about how we could work together to determine the challenges that GSEs would work on in the future. (ex: DAO tech beyond multisigs, L2 migration, VCs, subDAOs, etc).

Perhaps a round table and temp check for the S4 program?

Thanks for your continued love and effort man, big preesh :pray:

1 Like

Yes, 10000%! Also love that this came with a meme. A good way to subtly tell everyone who was on twitter to go and participate in forums :joy:

For the funding: I’m not on GC, but from an outsider perspective, this looks like something that should be funded by the treasury, as these two problems are existential threats to the DAO and should come from the treasury rather than jumping through the committee. BUT that’s an outsider view, I’m not super familiar with the inner workings of GC.

I also think it’s smart that these gov engineers aren’t on grants committee, but I’d say they should sit in on GC/meet w committee members/listen to the problems they’re running into/have an intimate knowledge of how it works, but not be a decision-maker there.

Lastly, I’d say that the person focusing on “contributor retention” should spend time with the First Quest designers and talent scouts to get a feel for the flow of people coming in, the process of getting new fresh talent to stick around, issues of evaluating talent, finding work for everyone, offboarding….all that fun stuff that is definitely an existential crisis imo

1 Like

Re: temp checks

Maybe contributors could submit “existential problems” to the S3 gov engineers and the engineers group those problems into broader categories? Then they evaluate the biggest threats (maybe by running votes here)

Congratulations on another clear and strategic plan ser.

This will be a massively positive set of new infrastructure for Bankless DAO.

Frog, this post is what I have been waiting for! This is exactly what I think is the right priority, you set the right social and financial signal for the importance of the topic. And boy am I going to apply :smiley:

One thought on the team: You see two topics and three Gov SEs. I am wondering if it would be better to assign four Gov SEs? If we want the deliverables to be of the best quality, I think it would be advisable to have people just focus on one of the problems. This will take considerable mental headspace in the coming weeks for those involved and I am convinced both topics are too much for one brain. Why four? I see two people per problem, who will be working super closely together, bounce ideas, push each other, etc…

1 Like

The problems that are clearly outlined are known since 3-4 months within the DAO. Nobody has tackled them, because the majority was totally fine with the allocations and the salaries. Overpaying some members does not seem to be the right way to tackle the issue.
As we know, community tends to say yes. Therefore making the final allocation depending on the “will” of the community could sound a bit deceiving. Knowing how our community votes, I would be sure that everyone would vote YES, as usual.
The problem is mainly given by the fact that nobody checks on the deliveries of the projects. People often asked mountains of BANK without delivering the intended output. GC has two devs at the moment. So there isn’t a lack of knowledge of technicalities. The problem was that GC has deferred the voting to forum posts… When there were issues on project, the “community” vote solved doubts and uncertainties.
I think that such a work requires leadership and true committment for the DAO. I don’t think that this needs to be funded with such a great allocation. Ops, GC and Guild coordinators/delegates should tackle the issue.

2 Likes

Thanks @frogmonkee, we’ve all been waiting for this post with trepidation.
We have had the opportunity to talk about these topics several times and what you write is extremely close to what I think and that I have had the opportunity to expose several times (and I apologize to everyone for being often repetitive).

I voted to have “light modifications”, which partly go along with what @Eagle wrote.

These are the changes that I personally think could improve the framework:

  • Members should be 5 and not 3. Three members are not enough to ensure coherent development and would give the idea of ​​an unprecedented concentration of power in the DAO. If five is the right number for a multisig, it can be a right number for this committee

  • Remuneration should be fixed, but for reasons other than those indicated by @Eagle. If people are elected they have the confidence of the DAO, so they deserve the indicated salary. The job is judged by confirming or sending people home during the office or at the end of it. I think that even being judged “in the pockets” is not fair.

  • Personally, to date, I believe that the remuneration considered is high. It is true that in many cases it is possible to earn more by accumulating roles and participating in projects, but wanting to be part of this office must come from a constructive and not a financial stimulus. I think a 60K BANK monthly range is more in line with what we see DAO-wide

  • Stacking of offices can be problematic in three cases:
    (1) incompatibility between roles, and I don’t see any
    (2) not having the time to best perform the roles covered, and it is a real problem
    (3) getting paid for too many roles at the same time

  • The solution may be to self-regulate in the management of roles, with a temp-check to verify the effective ability of future members of the committee to carry out what is requested by the office, and above all not to allow other remuneration than that offered by this committee. All other roles, bounties, projects, Coordinape rounds should be excluded

  • I think it is also necessary to regulate the remuneration modalities of those who participate in the working groups, precisely to avoid overlapping payments. By putting these limits in place, the budget expressed will partially replace that currently spent on other roles, with a more limited weight on the treasury

  • It is necessary to give an indication of how much work this office will involve. Personally I believe that the amount of work to be done will be enormous

  • I also believe that the role cannot be covered by those with a guest pass.I do not think other filters are necessary, the DAO will certainly be able to express its choices in the best possible way.

In any case, I agree on the absolute necessity to proceed on this path.

3 Likes

Gov SEs cannot be on the Grants Committee (not 100% sure on this… what do you think?)

I agree with this. It is hard to put into words, but this is like working for a financial institution right after working in financial regulation (hahaha). Not quite the same, but there might be a conflict of interest.

I would caution against taking on more we can chew without testing this first.

100% agree. Maintaining focus on the problem at hand is paramount (not just in this, but in most things too).

Refining the Guest Pass, L1, and L2 system to be more inclusive

Yeah, right now I think that we have a very strict L1 requirement which might deter people from contributing. Guest Pass is an ephemeral construct and I think we lose some contributors.

Another problem I see is that L1-L4 shouldn’t be levels at all. For example, I can walk in here, buy 150k $BANK without talking to a single person and become a L4. I think that in practice we have a contributor “path” (GP + L2) and a whale “path” (L1 + L4). In fact, I went to the BanklessDAO Notion page and tried to figure out what the difference is between L3 and L4 and I didn’t find anything.

Envisions a new incentive model that rewards long-term contributors that stick with the DAO for over a year.

I think this requires some thought because you can easily create a walled garden where new people will be reluctant to contribute. A good example is Stack Overflow. If you are a newcomer you’ll see people with 234234234 reputation, something you have no chance of getting. There is also a compounding effect because the reputation limit is 200 / day but you can go over 200 with an accepted answer. Simply by having many answers (1000+) you create a compounding effect that is very hard to beat. This is why I really like your proposition that we should revise L2 status periodically. In terms of StackOverflow what I think would be great is if reputation had an expiry or something similar. I’m still top 2% in the php tag because I have a single answer that’s still voted on. I haven’t coded in php in almost 10 years!

So what my point is, that we shouldn’t have a system that rewards long-term contributors. What I think we should reward are continuous quality contributions. What’s the key here is to keep the focus on the steady flow of value an individual creates, not the time they spent contributing. I might be going against the grain, but I’ve seen this kind of reward mechanism an awful lot and I think it only creates a Dead Sea Effect.

If you think this amount is too much… well have you looked at the scope of work?!

No. I think they deserve more. I think 100k for something that would prevent me from programming 40 hours a week is less than ideal.

3 Likes

Also, whoever voted Strongly Disagree, would you kindly elaborate on this a bit? I’d like to learn more about what problems you see with this.

I agree with most of this, but I disagree with the funding part: the problem it tries to solve is that people have a big opportunity cost if they decide to focus on this problem (this is why it wasn’t tackled after all). By having dedicated human capital on this problem we can probably get closer to a solution.

I do agree with the voting mechanism. Most people just click yes. Even I do it sometimes. “Sounds cool, sure dude”. Maybe we should have something in place that gives weight to those votes not just for the votee but for the voter too. I have no idea how this can be implemented, but we should somehow deter people from “Default Yes” voting.

Also evaluating project success and learning to say “No” is a very hard problem. Not technically, but psychologically. Most people try to avoid conflict at all costs, and saying “No” is a conflict in itself. I don’t have solutions for this either, but I wanted to make this point too.

2 Likes

Massive props for outlining the issues and taking the time to distill it into core areas. Fully support this program :pray:

I’m new here but I believe the way to avoid “dead sea effect” is some form of identity capital. The incentives to contribute are usually offered by the blockchain protocols themselves, while here we are talking about token payment (human work), not distribution (incentive to mine, stake…). It’s up to the call itself of being a “Bank(less)” dao to organize these incentives within the ecosystem…

For example, I like the fact that UMA pays in option: i.e. for targets; while this could seem unloyal to the worker, it’s great if we seek concrete targets, permanently redeemable.
I like less the fact that the payment is in tokens merely subject to speculation from front-runner, but I don’t want to criticize on it, rather move the focus on what surround this condition.

I voted “neutral” but I’m here since a week. I simply believe while some form of self-organization within guilds and corner may fail, it’s important to have the ecosystem evolve within itself. Mine are only theoric points to address some occasional weaknesses I believe to see. I’d focus on the fact that it’s indeed an occasion to create a new form of cohoperational ecosystem.

2 Likes

This is super interesting! What kind of evaluation mechanism do you think would be best for L2 renewal, as far as gaging quality? I also just learned about the Dead Sea Effect, that’s very interesting and definitely seems like a potential problem for the DAO.

2 Likes