The DAOist GGG22: DAO Governance Design Jam
Inga
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The DAOist
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0xdeniz
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May 5th, 2022

Hello DAOist!

Just over two weeks ago, we organised the Global Governance Gathering in Amsterdam, as part of devconnect. A two-day event focused on gathering DAO governance thinkers & doers to make magic happen. Let's look into the many workshops, sessions, and exchanges that happened as part of the event.

One of our partners this year was MakerDAO—more specifically the DUX Core Unit, which is responsible for Maker’s governance UX and tooling. After having witnessed our event in Lisbon last year they were eager to put in sponsorship for GGG22 and make a contribution to the program. They took the initiative to prepare and facilitate a full-day workshop for a select group of DAO governance big brains in which they'd jam about common challenges and potential solutions.

DAO Governance Design Jam

The purpose of the workshop was to foster innovations to common DAO governance challenges on the levels of process, policy, incentives, and user interface design—as opposed to yet another new DAO governance framework. These innovations would be feasible for existing DAO systems to implement. More importantly; the workshop served as a platform for bringing DAO thinkers together and building cross-organisational relationships.

Tiago sharing some ideation methods from the Design Thinking toolkit
Tiago sharing some ideation methods from the Design Thinking toolkit

The participants group consisted of 11 carefully selected DAO thinkers and doers from MakerDAO, Yearn, Element Finance, Orca Protocol, BlackLeadersDAO, Other Internet, Livepeer, and Radicle. The workshop was closed to the wider public since its success depended on collectively building up context. The participants were asked to commit to the full-day program and minimise distractions.

The workshop agenda was designed in accordance with Design Thinking methodologies, alternating between divergent (eg. explore, define, ideate) and convergent (aggregate, cluster, vote) thinking. The participants were conducted through this program to facilitate the creative process.

After introductions over breakfast & coffee, the group kicked off by exploring the challenges and frustrations that DAOs face on an ongoing basis, cluster them and create an abstraction of the most important challenges. These challenges were then put into focus for ideating potential solutions. The group was encouraged to ideate on the layers higher up in the stack—there is a lot of low-hanging fruit here and these innovations would be feasible for existing DAO systems to implement.

A wall full of challenge statements related to DAO governance
A wall full of challenge statements related to DAO governance

Synergies between participants naturally emerged as their most prominent challenges and frustrations were shared, upon which three subgroups were formed. The subgroups each took on the challenge statement that most resonated with them and headed into town to JAM.

Will (Element Finance) and Shelby (Radicle) jamming on their potential solution—street signs turned into whiteboards as discussions flowed and ideas emerged
Will (Element Finance) and Shelby (Radicle) jamming on their potential solution—street signs turned into whiteboards as discussions flowed and ideas emerged

Every few hours the group regathered for intermediate pitching and sharing feedback, which then fuelled further iterations of the concepts. Final pitches of the concepts triggered further discussion and tweaking until the afternoon came to an end and energy levels dropped.

Workshop output

The workshop resulted in an abstracted overview of common DAO governance challenges (available here) and three defined concepts based on a top-3 selection of challenges.

Team 1: Focussed on DAO onboarding

"How might we empower interested new members to self-select their role and contributions to a DAO?"

This team came up with an onboarding process designed not to overwhelm new entrants to the web3 space. The flow starts out with some very basic questions about the individual's interests and skills—no web3 context needed! As the individual progresses through the onboarding flow they are encouraged to make small contributions to a DAO (‘quick wins’) and self-select some potential ways to contribute to DAOs that fit them best. The onboarding flow could be DAO-agnostic but should be supported by ‘DAO librarians’ which are existing DAO contributors that can provide guidance by answering questions and pointing out relevant resources when needed. A schematic overview can be found below.

Team 2: Focussed on accountability

"How might we hold teams accountable for their work after their grant/budget proposal has been approved?"

Team 2 came up with a process innovation to foster accountability at the source; governance proposals that include a budget request. The new process should make it easier to hold teams accountable for their performance after their budget was granted—a lack of oversight and performance tracking is a common pain point in DAOs today.

The new process prescribes that governance proposals should always include an objectively written ‘definition of success’, and larger proposals should always include appointed members for a committee of advisors. The committee, composed of contributors both native and outside of the respective DAO, should be involved in periodic progress reporting & evaluations. Advisors could also be involved in budget/payment approvals, which essentially require them to stake their own reputation by association with the respective team. More info is below:

Team 3: Focussed on incentivising participation

"How might we incentivise quality contributions to DAO governance?"

Lastly, team 3 was focused on one of the more challenging and widespread issues that DAOs face today; voter apathy and a lack of incentives for qualitative contributions to DAO governance.

Participation in the governance of a DAO and protocol can be costly—both in terms of time investment and gas costs. The notion of governance mining has been explored by many but ends up incentivising misinformed voting and leave out qualitative contributions, such as co-authoring proposals or well-informed voting behavior.

Team 3 came up with a multifaceted incentive scheme with a scope that goes beyond token votes; it also takes into account behavior such as communication. In addition, the incentivization scheme effectively rewards delegating voting power for those who are not interested in participating themselves. Delegating your tokens to an effective delegate enables you to earn a part of the upside, which seems like a powerful idea to further explore. Check out the schematics below for more details.

tl;dr

The workshop proved that cross-DAO collaboration, combined with Design Thinking, has the potential to unlock an abundance of unexplored ideas and creativity. Let's prioritise DAO governance and innovate on process, policy, interface design, and incentives! The web3 space has been dominated by technologists and entrepreneurs for years (and for good reasons!), but we need more concept-thinking and user-centric solution design to try and overcome the challenges we face today.

Here's a link to the on-stage talk by 0xdeniz (MakerDAO) on GGG22, in which he explains the rationale & setup of the workshop and presents the output.

Workshop participants:

Tiago Varandas — Product designer @ MakerDAO DUX [facilitator]
Deniz Yilmaz — — Product & team lead @ MakerDAO DUX [facilitator]
Payton Rose — Governance facilitator @ MakerDAO GovAlpha
0xWeaver — Operations & governance @ yearn.finance
Laura Lotti — Researcher @ Other Internet
Will Villanueva — CEO @ Element Finance
Chun Poon — Governance & community @ Orca Protocol
Sunny Satva — Governance @ BlackLeadersDAO
Nassar Hayat — Growth lead @ Radicle & more
Shelby Steidl — Governance facilitator @ Radicle
Shannon Wells — Governance & community lead @ Livepeer

Writing:

Deniz Yilmaz — Product & team lead @ MakerDAO DUX

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