Org Design Workstream: Contributor Interview Reflections and Next Steps

:seedling: This post is summary of the interviews that the Org Design Workstream conducted, as well as a reflection on what it means for the Org Design Workstream’s scope.

The main purpose of the interviews was to explore problems and needs of Radicle contributors as we design for enabling core Radicle work via the RadicleDAO. As mentioned in Louie’s initial update, we conducted 19 interviews with individuals ranging from Community Contributors, Core Team members, Core Team Leads, to Founders, across part-time and full-time roles.

Based on our initial definition around org design, the interview questions dove into understanding our current contributors, their working styles and familiarity with crypto, (and very importantly) their experiences with onboarding and collaboration, as well as their questions and ideas for what it means to work for a DAO.

Themes & Pain Points

A few themes arose in these conversations - some of which will be expanded on and interwoven in the reflections below.

:handshake: Culture

Overall, core contributors are committed to Radicle’s mission and value the autonomy and the flexibility the project provides; there is an opportunity to contribute in many different areas, particularly toward topics that excite the individual. We do feel “open source” ethos is our culture.

:hammer_and_wrench: Coordination

Most described the monthly calls good for cross-team sharing and engagement (also for accountability). “Ad-hoc”, “needs based”, “voluntary” were used to describe cross-team coordination today. The biggest pain point we found is a lack of agreement on what needs coordination and what’s preventing it from happening. And while contributors have various tolerances, teams are feeling the pain points (inconsistent user experience, incompatibility, workaround for conflicts, lack of clarity in deliverables) of moving in different rhythms and aligning with different priorities.

Additionally, there is a subset of people who do Radicle “care work”; work that falls outside their deliverables such as identifying coordination points, contributing to other teams, or discussing or advocating with other teams.

:speaking_head: Communication

Individuals and teams communicate differently; some teams meet regularly in live calls, some rely on mostly asynchronous communication, some focus on regular, written long-form content. Many agreed that Discord is hard to follow, especially when you are trying to catch up after taking holidays or if you work very part-time.

:money_with_wings: Compensation & Support

When asked about the DAO transition, a common theme was how areas typically covered by a company or state - like contracts, “benefits” (e.g. health insurance/pension), visa, family leave, and employment recognition - would be handled by the DAO. Questions around how to be paid by a DAO were frequently put forward when the DAO-future was discussed, including questions around compensating role-based vs project-based work (more under “Design Parameters” below). Most contributors don’t have experience with crypto-native payments, and while some people have started working with accountants in their country to dig into what it means to be paid in crypto or by a non-legal-entity, many have not.

:rocket: Common Thread / Vision

Especially during the process of finding product market fit, there is a desire for a common thread to guide a general direction of the Radicle project while maintaining autonomy and flexibility in scope of work for teams. One way we’ve seen this show up is as a desire for a unified vision. However, we found there are varying ideas of what a vision is and what type of vision is needed for what purpose.

:woman_judge: Governance Scope

Given the DAO governance structure would facilitate core decisions like treasury distribution, there is both excitement and fear about getting more input from additional, external parties (”community and token holders”) regarding: contributions, operations, product implementation, how teams should work, the overall strategy, and giving authority to say whether work should or should not be sponsored.

Design Parameters

In general, these interviews informed design parameters that will help the Org Design Workstream define the framework for the Minimum Viable DAO - i.e. the MVDAO, or the minimum we need to have designed and built in order to have the majority of core work developed by the DAO and funded by the Radicle Treasury.

The design parameters we identified include:

Ecosystem Design

This high-level design will define how core work is organized, prioritized, funded, and held accountable by the DAO - and identify who or what is responsible for what key decisions. Think of this as the codification of the essential systems between the Radicle Treasury and Radicle core work, systems that are currently being facilitated by the Radicle Foundation Council. It will answer questions like:

  • Is there a single DAO/organization or several nestled DAOs/organizations? Are individuals interacting directly with the DAO or are there layers in-between?

  • How is the on-chain governance system involved? How are funds for work (at team and individual levels) approved? Who is involved with this approval process and how can we distribute more influence to Radicle contributors to govern treasury distributions to fund core work and strategy?

  • What and/or who replaces the Foundation Council and takes on the responsibility of evaluating what work should be funded, the budgets for this work, and progress towards objectives? Is vision-setting a part of this work and is a vision required to assess the aforementioned work?

  • How are changes made to this ecosystem design? And how are new teams or temporary committees funded or created?

  • What are the requirements for a migration to this new structure?

Core Team Operations

Joining and operating within a DAO will be new for most Radicle contributors, so we will need to provide options for how core teams could organize themselves within the DAO structure. While preserving autonomy and decentralization within core teams is important, we will also need to identify how this should be balanced with standardization and building for resilience and sustainability. Some questions that guide our thinking here:

  • Are there any standard roles, processes, or documentation that core teams will be expected to meet to be recognized and funded as a core team by the DAO?

  • What kind of relationships can core teams put in place with contributors who have specific needs (like a real world freelance contract)?

  • How do we prepare for different core team structures and the evolution of core teams? For example, if people set up legal entities to contract with the RadicleDAO and hire people through their legal entity, what happens if this entity owner stops contributing to Radicle?

  • What is required for a team to successfully migrate to this new structure?

  • How can individual contributors be empowered to exchange (jurisdiction-specific) knowledge and resources to clarify what it means to be paid by and operate within a DAO?

  • Importantly, how will the Core Team be compensated? We see a need to answer this question in two ways:

    • Compensation Models: There are many contributor personas, who have several individual and differing needs. Therefore, what kind of example mechanisms can contributors be offered? To answer this, we need to think about:

      • What does a compensation model look like for a team member that does full-time work consistently vs. a part-timer whose work ebbs and flows vs. project-based worker?

      • What options are there in terms of frequency of payments to contributors? What does it mean to “pause” work (e.g. for vacation, medical leave)?

      • What does the Radicle DAO need in terms of tooling and what is (or should be) supported by Workstreams and what should be satisfied by another supplier?

    • Compensation Methods: Given the differences for how crypto and income generally are treated from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, contributors will come with individual and a unique constellation of needs. We need to explore:

      • Are fiat payments via the DAO possible?

      • What third parties (e.g. the Foundation and Accountable) can play a role in bridging payments from the Radicle Treasury to contributors who live in jurisdictions where contributors can’t receive income from a DAO?

Collective Information Access

Different levels of information are required to address the needs of new stakeholders within the Radicle ecosystem. And while we want core teams to own their own onboarding processes, we also want to make sure contributors and core teams are supported by having an up-to-date, accessible directory of who is doing what in the Radicle ecosystem - especially where their work might be impacted. Therefore, we want to be able to answer questions like:

  • What information about RadicleDAO systems, core work, teams, and contributors SHOULD be centralized and standardized - in order to empower contributors, grow Radicle’s contributor base, and support better coordination between core teams?

  • Where should individuals who just want to understand what Radicle is and how to use it go for this information? What is the scope of this information and how is it communicated? Who is responsible for keeping this location up-to-date?

  • Where should new contributors go who want to understand how and where they can contribute to Radicle? Should things like job postings be centralized and/or standardized?

  • Where should new “core” contributors that have been hired go to understand the scope of Radicle’s core work, who is working on what, and how they fit into the Radicle ecosystem?

Next Steps

As you can see, there are a lot of questions to start answering as we begin to design Radicle’s “MVDAO”. To start tackling them, the next two months will be spent doing research & solution development.

Our research will consist of deep dives into existing organization design frameworks to gain an understanding of how other DAOs, decentralized orgs, and centralized orgs have answered these questions themselves. This will be combined with Shelby’s research into DAO tooling providers as she evaluates our own DAO stack. We’ll use her research to decide which tools we think would best serve the needs of our MVDAO framework.

While we are responsible for proposing an MVDAO framework to the community based on our research and workshopping, we’d like our solution development to be done as openly and collaboratively as possible. Over the next two months, we will be reaching out to get contributors involved in workshopping specific design components of the MVDAO framework. Here are the open questions we’ll start workshopping first, with some more details on our approach:

  • What and/or who replaces the Foundation Council and takes on the responsibility of evaluating what work should be funded, the budgets for this work, and progress towards objectives?

    • @abbey is outlining the current responsibilities of the Foundation Council so they can be mapped into the organizational design of the RadicleDAO. Each will be identified as either a responsibility that needs to be transitioned from the Foundation to the DAO OR as a new responsibility that needs to be initiated within the MVDAO framework. These will be our design constraints as we begin to workshop our MVDAO organizational design.

    • Contributor-proposed solutions that could (partially) replace current Foundation Council’s core functions with more collaborative processes such as new team formations (Kai) and collaborative vision-setting (Thom) should be collected and properly discussed to ensure they are included in the MVDAO design.

  • How will the Core Team be compensated?

    • One of the most important outstanding questions relates to how the DAO will compensate contributors. We’d like to do a workshop with the Workstreams team @julien @efstajas @brandonhaslegs to better understand contributor personas and needs that they have identified as well as how their tool could support our current and future contributor compensation model. From here, we decide if we’d like to build a compensation model that dogfoods Workstreams or uses another tool from @shelb_ee’s research.
  • Who is involved with this approval process and how can we distribute more influence to Radicle contributors to govern treasury distributions to fund core work and strategy?

    • Another point that was made clear throughout our contributor interviews was that to truly support our transition to the DAO, we must empower our contributors with more influence to govern treasury distributions for the funding of core development. While this is in part being tackled by the Distribution of Ownership workstream, @bordumb and I will be officially kicking off the Distribution of Influence workstream next week to start developing a proposal for the community.

That’s the update for now! We’ll plan on sharing updates on Discourse over the next month of research & development. As always, feel free to share thoughts on our reflections & next steps here in this post. :sparkles:

Thanks,
Abbey, Ange, and Louie

1 Like

Thank you folks for this awesome update! :muscle: The level of detail and depth of the questions is truly impressive and puts us on a great track to figuring out what our next steps in the transition need to be. :rocket: A few thoughts below:

Maybe we can workshop this with the whole team at the next offsite? I know team autonomy is very important to the core teams at Radicle, but this seems like a pretty big issue that should be addressed for long-term sustainability and overall well-being/sanity.

Having this list of specific subjects folks are concerned about is super helpful. There seems to be a desire from the Radicle community to have a better distribution of influence amongst the core team - especially for decisions relating to the treasury. I don’t know how helpful or dangerous this would be, but maybe it would it make sense to lightly start defining/sorting out what types of decisions could be made by a level of “core team governance” (for example working group budgets) and what should remain in the hands of the wider community? I say “dangerous” above because we don’t want the community to feel that they are being left out of important decisions. But taking an example from MakerDAO, it has been extremely stressful for teams to have to rely on the community/wider governance process to approve quarterly budgets for each team. It makes planning really difficult.

Clear, easy to find documentation, consistent on-boarding process for ALL members (new and old), simple and efficient tools members can plugin and out of as needed (especially for governance). There are of course a lot of other important pieces here (including a lot of admin/HR needs) but I feel these basics are important to nail.

We could set up some sort of tiered onboarding flow. Folks who are hired could receive a NFT badge and with that access a new tier of information/onboarding docs in the flow. I know DAOLens has this capability in their onboarding flow for example.

I am currently trying to do a more detailed mapping of our tooling needs and what is potentially available to us. I want to have this and next steps up by the end of this week or early next week!

One questions I did not see here (maybe in a different post but I missed it?) is regarding liability. For example, if Radicle gets in trouble with regulators or is sued, who acts as the entity responsible for representing the DAO? I have heard some horror stories of legal entities going after the core or founding team of decentralized entities who have ran into trouble in the past. How can we ensure core contributors are protected and what is the plan of action if something were to happen?

Thank you again for the TLC you folks are pouring into this. I look forward to continuing the discussion!