Improving the Working Group structure

This post is a request for feedback on how to improve the Working Group structure before its next iteration.

Situation

Working Groups were introduced in March 2020 as a way to enable clear leaders to assume responsibility for delivering meaningful outcomes that benefit the entire Coop. Today, these groups are funded by the Treasury Committee (TC) rather than IIP. Read Laying the rails for Working Groups (WG) v1 for more detail.

This construct has been effective.

“Working Groups” has enabled the following groups to spin-up and execute on behalf of Coop stakeholders

  1. Growth Working Group II
  2. Analytics Working Group
  3. Treasury Working Group
  4. Product Working Group
  5. Creative and Design Working Group
  6. Business Development Working Group [in progress]

Complication

Now that we have had approximately 3 months experience, as expected, there are some challenges to address.

These challenge today can be summarized as follows :point_right: The Treasury Committee (TC) is not best-positioned to compensate Working Group contributors.

Here is how that manifests:

  1. Inconsistency: There lacks consistency amongst Working Groups and whether they are responsible for paying contributors. This creates confusion and redundancy.
  2. Reliance on WG Leads: The Treasury Committee is removed from day-to-day operations, often lacks subject-matter expertise. So, it is a poor-fit for assessing contributions. Because of this, there is already reliance on WG leads for clarity.
  3. Inflexible: The contribution scheme (Monthly, INDEX denominated) is inflexible. This need not be so.
  4. Non-Scalable: Today, the TC spends approximately 10 hours each month to coordinate, collect, assess, and execute the Treasury Rewards. This responsibility will grow even more as more contributors help working groups, and is not sustainable.

Question

This begs the question, “how do we solve these challenges and improve Working Groups?”

One Potential Answer

Empower Working Group Leaders to be responsible for deciding remuneration for their contributors.

The Treasury Committee could continue to provide funding for Working Groups, as well as guidance and support to help Working Group Leaders execute.

No matter, I am curious to see folks’ ideas. This post is intentionally not putting forward a hardened solution.

Next Steps

#1 - Solicit feedback - please add replies below!

#2 - After that, I will draft “Working Groups v1.1” to put forward the updated rails for the next iteration of Working Groups

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This is something I have been thinking about quite a bit as I become acquainted with the DAO structure. One option worth consideration would be the implementation of (🧮 How Cred Works | SourceCred), although this obviously has some drawbacks with potential gaming. That said, the code is community controlled and open source, thus allowing for adjustment. Metagame just implemented (I have been in contact with the person responsible for implementation) and I think initial results are promising. That said, this does require legwork to set up. Maybe this is worth exploring further?

I am also open to granting working group leaders more control over contribution distribution. However, this feels centralized (bad word) in nature. Although, if properly implemented I think we could avoid those issues as well.

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The Analytics Working Group (AWG) was funded initially with enough INDEX for contributors to be rewarded directly from the AWG. Over the first two months of operation, I have taken that approach to funding analytics contributions. I make sure to keep track of every transaction hash, amount, and a description of the work done. I check in with each contributor before payment with the amount and make sure they feel like it is a fair representation of their contribution. Contribution rewards are posted to the forums every month for transparency.

I would welcome ideas around how to add another point or two of “decentralization” - like maybe a partner with in the Treasury Committee that is on the multi-sig and reviews all transactions. However, I think we should also realize that the working groups are established through a decentralized process, and not everything that happens within them needs to “decentralized”. If there are issues with a working group or a leader, then the same decentralized process can be used (forums, voting, etc) to fix those issues.

We must keep the ability for working groups to work quickly - one of the disadvantages of working as a decentralized DAO can be that things move too slowly and take too much time. Our working group structure gives us avenues to combat that and work with more speed. I believe this is important to keep optimizing for - I am looking forward to hearing from others and iterating on working groups in general and the Analytics Working Group specifically!

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I feel comfortable with the @jdcook and the AWG operations because track record and the transparency posts. If there were to be a new group spun up and little by way of transparency I think I would feel out of touch and somewhat skeptical - and I doubt I’d be the only one. There should always be the 3 month rip-cord but the idea of a multi-sig seems reasonable too, perhaps for budgets over a certain threshold?

There is relation in this topic to the building of trust which has been discussed before, so perhaps something formal related to time and contributions might be considered, but I am not wholly keen on that idea. The method for proposing and voting for working groups addresses much of the trust element already.

Will be interested to read more thoughts here.

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Addressing each of the-above comments at once…

@helmass

  • exploring the use of tools like SourceCred and Coordinape can certainly be done. My core question is: Do those (or other tools) solve problems faced by WG leads & their contributors today?
  • re: centralization, interesting…Right now, payments are handled for all contributors by the TC (Dylan, DarkForest, Myself). Putting that power in the hands of WG leads seems more decentralized to me. Curious how you are thinking about that.

@jdcook

  • thanks for that rundown on how you manage contributor payments for the AWG
  • “working groups are established through a decentralized process, and not everything that happens within them needs to “decentralized”. If there are issues with a working group or a leader, then the same decentralized process can be used (forums, voting, etc) to fix those issues.” – yes
  • “We must keep the ability for working groups to work quickly” – yes, to me, this is one of the primary purposes of the TC <> Working Group structure.

@mrvls_brkfst

  • Sounds like transparency of payments by WG leads to contributors is important to you; I know I’d also feel skeptical and out of touch w/o that transparency.
  • On multi-sigs for WG leads – i’m curious, what is inspiring this question? Security concerns, trust concerns, something else. Also, if such a “multi-sig requirement” were put in place, having some threshold makes loads of sense. I can see a world were really micro (1 month, specific project) working groups pop up w/very low budgets.
  • “The method for proposing and voting for working groups addresses much of the trust element already.” – great to hear

Thanks for the thoughts @gregdocter :slight_smile:

What I was trying to communicate (although done poorly) is that transferring responsibility to WG leads could be an improvement, however, if we are going to address how payments are distributed I think it would be a good time to take a comprehensive view looking at 3rd-party solutions as well. Reading again, I completely see why this was a head-scratcher lol.

Further, the process @jdcook highlighted is very thorough! If WG leads end up manage contribution distribution then I support an approach like this. I also believe a similar process should be vetted across other WG leads.

Regarding the other question

I don’t have the answer to this yet and this is something that needs to be answered. I think I will put a more extensive post together on SourceCred, running through the pros/cons. I would likely need to pull a few more people together with a greater perspective to help with the lift (definitely someone on engineering). I have never heard of Coodinape actually, so will do some reading up on this as well. After a more extensive overview is complete of the products, it would likely make sense to loop in WG leads for feedback. Ultimately at the end of the day, I agree (“we must keep the ability for working groups to work quickly”) is of top priority.

Hope this helps clarify some of my thoughts above. Thoughts?

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Hi Greg! Yes, I think multi-sig should only apply for really big allocations to an address. In my mind it seems reasonable for security, peace-of-mind for the holder, and diligent from the point of view of INDEX investors - so less about my personal trust of the person holding the funds and more about belts, braces, and reputation.

As for the threshold for requiring it? I don’t know. A portion of INDEX deemed significant enough to risk swinging votes, impacting price dramatically, damaging ongoing Coop operations from a budgetary standpoint - at that kind of level. Maybe there is no danger of that.

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Hi Greg,

Thanks for this thought provoking summary.

Agreed this is a challenge and risks leading to unsatisfactory and unfair reward outcomes - especially for Bronze Owls (who the TC has less visibility of).

Would there be opportunity to define a process which ties all contribution rewards to a specific Working Group/s?

This would provide the following advantages:

  • Clarity and reporting on wage budget by working Group (making WGs more like business cost centers in this regard)
  • All Working Group leads determine compensation for individuals who tag contribution activity to their WG. This would encourage greater transparency and fairness in rewards.
  • Begs the question, if activity is not tagged to any working group is it value add? If so, why does it not fit within an existing working group activity?

This is somewhat similar to the approach taken currently in the CDWG. However, if were to adopt this model I will like to see a few areas further refined - especially around the compensation for individuals working across WGs.

The current process kicks up some strange results, for example:

  • Multiple separate payments at different times (i.e. CDWG rewards sent, and then an additional rewards is provided by the TC).
  • There seems a natural tendency for higher contribution rewards to be granted to individuals doing activity spanning multiple WGs. In May for example, 4/7 of the CDWG were paid more than any other silver owls in the Coop.
  • Maybe there is some balancing the TC can do to ensure rewards for cross-WG contributors are more equitable? This may impact the degree decentralization offered by our WGs though.

I echo @helmass’s view. I am strongly in favor of the contributor rewards being determined by WGs. However, I believe payments should still be processed centrally. It is typically very inefficient for organisation pay their staff on a departments by department level.

This question reminds me of a very common bit of org design work I used to do which was setting up a shared services model. Fundamentally, we would go in and consolidate multiple back office functions who were doing the same job across the organization (i.e. payroll).

I would be interested to know your reflections on whether broad remits, scopes and KPIs for WGs are beneficial for the Coop?

Virtually all possible activity individuals could undertake within the Coop falls under the remit of one of our existing Working Groups. This means it is unlikely that many more new WGs will form given that the majority of new initiatives will fall under the scope of our existing WG a structure.

I enjoyed reading @BigSky7’s BD WG proposal and liked the proposal of a fixed INDEX denominated reward for core BD contributors .

However, as @Matthew_Graham pointed out, this risks not protecting people from the downside (if they have bills to pay). Moreover, with volatile price action, different WG contributors could ended up being rewarded very different compensation simply due to the payment structure in place within their respective WG (INDEX denominated vs USD denominated).

I would like to see a standard process in place for all core WG contributors where they can choose whether their fixed monthly reward should be denominated in INDEX of USD. This would strike the right balance of fairness and flexibility, offering upside for those who want it, or security for those who prefer a more “predictable” monthly wage. This was partially explored in @dylan contribution options post.

:arrow_up: @jdcook upmost respect for this approach. Your transparency and diligence is inspiring as someone who hopes to set up a Community, Organization and People WG in the not too distant future.

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Doing my best to hit your points/questions :raised_hands:

This doesn’t seem quite right to me, unless you are speaking merely from a “labelling the contribution” perspective. WG’s are hired by the Coop to pursue very specific mandates. To attribute ad hoc contributions to Working Groups that WG leaders didn’t ask for/need seems odd…

I’m trying to put a finer point on my objection to this, but am coming up short at the moment.

noted :white_check_mark:

Glad you are flagging this – I can see why it might seem/feel this way today, but I don’t think it has to be this way. In fact, I expect niche Working Groups start popping up to tackle specific challenges/problems that are not getting coverage today.

I think we, the Coop, want to encourage a thriving ecosystem of contributors – and one "contributor type"that doesn’t exist today but could is the project-based Working Group.

For one an example, maybe someone wants to spend 1 month doing a deep dive on contributor payment tools in crypto (sablier, superfluid, coordinape, sourcered) and provide a recommendation for how the Coop can leverage those tools. Imo, great!!

noted :white_check_mark:

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Based on feedback here are proposed updates for Working Groups v1.1

  • Working Group Leaders are responsible for determining compensation of their contributors. This will begin with a run through alongside the Funding Council for at least the first month.
  • Working Group Leaders can choose their own stipend to be INDEX denominated
  • Working Group Leaders will include a rough budget (USD denominated, no change here) for contributors during the period of their WG. This is to provide guidance to help the Funding Council budget for the quarter, and will not act as a limit per se.

Most aspects about WG’s will not change. One specific “no change” to call out

  • The Funding Council (fka the Treasury Committee) will remain responsible for distributing payment on a monthly basis.

Here are some things we are already working on and are not structural changes

  • Improving the process of collecting contributor addresses and contributions
  • Involving Working Group leads prior to compensation distribution

Next steps

  • Receive feedback and iterate if needed
  • Harden into a true/standalone “Working Group v1.1” forum post

A final note

  • A future iteration could enable Working Group core contributors to choose their stipend as INDEX denominated.
  • Such an iteration is not part proposed changes for v1.1 as it adds non-trivial complexity that will take more time to sort out. Working Groups expire at the end of the month, so time is of the essence.
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