Index 2.0 | Leadership, Governance and Decision Making (Pods, Nest and Wise Owls)

Author: @Pepperoni_Joe
Reviewers: @Afromac, @lemonadealpha, @Cavalier_Eth, @iluscavia, @gregdocter, @bradwmorris, @seb, @Thomas_Hepner, @catjam, @pujimak_in

Following the extended Leadership Forum on the 10th of November, I wanted to share the slides from the session and the recording

If you weren’t able to attend, this is a must watch as it explores a vision for how Index Coop could be structured going forward.

Instead of converting a 40+ slide deck into a forum post, I would encourage comments and feedback here based on a review of the slides and recording.

Given the broad consensus on both the problems and solutions, we are being specific in this post to enable the community to decide on our next steps with clarity.

We’d like to acknowledge that implementing a new leadership structure within a DAO is uncomfortable.

The goal of the proposed Wise Owls and Nests is not to create a hierarchical structure. Rather, it’s to enable more autonomous and decentralized entities to flourish with support from an effective system of emergent and elected stewardship. Great leadership empowers people to do their best work and reach new heights of success - this is what the proposed structure is designed to achieve.

TLDR

  • Our governance structure has failed and contributors lack clarity and empowerment to make vital decisions at Index Coop. This means crucial decisions are not being made, are being made too slowly, and/or are being made without input from the proper stakeholders.

  • To address these challenges, we introduced three new concepts. At the core of these concepts is the idea of delegated decision making. Pods, Nests and Wise Owls:

  • Pods are the foundation of our organization. They are winning teams that have high trust in each other and deliver results in a specific area. They are agile and responsible for the success of a specific area of focus. Pods are flexible, can span across Nest and can vary in size and structure.

  • Nests are made up of a network of Pods. Nests fund and support Pods within their broad area. Each Nest has between 3 and 7 elected “Nest Coordinators” who are the most trusted and high context individuals tasked with supporting the success of the Pods within their Nest. Nest could be considered Index Coop sub-DAOs. As Nests fund Pods, new Pods can be created and receive budget via discussion with Coordinator from a relevant Nest(s).

  • There is a temptation to try and be highly prescriptive around the remit and responsibilities of the Nest and Pods at this stage. Try and avoid this temptation. Support of this post is a directional commitment to establishing Nest and Pods as organizational units. The discussion on specific roles, responsibilities and structure be further solidified as we embark on launching each of the five Nest.

  • Wise Owls are a cross functional group tasked with addressing our most pressing decision-making needs which currently lack a clear owner our route to resolution. We a proposing an experiment to elect a temporary Wise Owls Council, composed of ~7 individuals with a term expiring Feb 28th.

  • The IIP process will continue to play an important role in our new structure as it will validate, confirm and approve Wise Owls, Nest Coordinators and Nest proposals and budgets (among other things)

Keep in mind, we are a leading DAO in the space, we are defining how to build contributor-led organizations.

Fig 1. Illustrative example of Index Coop Structure

Fig 2. Nest and Pod illustrative example

Fig 3. Possible Nest and Pod structure

The community felt:

  • There is general consensus that the current decision making framework requires immediate transformation

  • There is general consensus that the proposed Pod / Nest model will provide a more robust framework for funding and coordination of pods’

  • There was a request to clearly define the responsibilities of the Wise Owls before the nomination process begins

  • There was discussion on some different alternative election mechanisms for selecting the Wise Owls.

The discussion in this next section will be most valuable if you either attended the session or refreshed yourself on the Slides here. And the video recording here.

Responsibilities of Wise Owls

Over the last 6 months we have launched two new products with 7 million combined AUM. Currently, the biggest risk to Index Coop is not an abuse of power by our most trusted leaders - it’s not getting things done.

As our autonomy has grown, increasingly we are seeing questions, challenges or situations arise where it is unclear who should make the final decision. This has led to organizational paralysis - with contributors not feeling empowered or able to address our most important challenges.

Wise Owls address this. They are tasked with proposing solutions to big decisions at Index Coop which currently lack a clear owner. Part of the solution is to identify who/what will be responsible for making this decision going forward.

This will enable the Wise Owls to continually address key issues as they arise, and then delegate responsibility to Pods or Nest(s). This is designed to help us avoid a heavy handed approach. Decision-making will begin at the Nest and Pod level, and if it becomes clear that an issue is intractable or system-critical, the Wise Owls will be tasked with the responsibility to develop a solution. To put it another way, the Wise Owls will focus on providing a first response for decisions that lack a clear owner, or which are so complex and cross-functional in nature they cannot be resolved by any other group.

Thus, Wise Owls are the tip of the spear ensuring Index Coop can rapidly respond to new situations as they arise. This will also be empowered to be Index Coops representatives to larger external stakeholders. This will create a new balance of power where Index Coop has equal voice at the table to Set and DFP.

Given that Wise Owls will only be in position until 28th of February, some example of decisions/activity the Wise Owls will make in the near term include, but are not limited to:

  • Prioritisation of positions for FT hiring
  • Provided Q1 priorities to guide the creation of Nest
  • Determine funding for each Nest
  • Meeting bi-weekly with Set Labs
  • Determining the final Compensation & Community Allocation structure proposed through IIP

We think it is important to be careful to not look to create an exhaustive list of responsibilities for the Wise Owls now. The more enumerated the list, the harder it becomes for the Wise Owls to be truly successful. Moreover, we will likely get bogged down arguing about fringe cases - when there is a clear, undebatable need for Wise Owls to immediately address some of our most important and complex decision making challenges.

Wise Owls response to decisions might look something like this:

Replacing Wise Owls

By giving the Wise Owls a clear mandate to act when decision-making on an issue exceeds the capacity of any one Pod or Nest, we can ensure the most pressing and challenging questions will be addressed head on. However, it is important the community and token holders can ensure the Wise Owls are kept accountable.

If you are worried about instilling a group which has dictoriarial power, it is important to make it clear Wise Owls can have specific responsibilities removed, or be disbanded entirely, if:

  • A community poll calling for this action get +55% support, quorum 25 votes, poll open to Trust Level 1 OR
  • An IIP calling for this action gets over +55% support, quorum 7.5% of circulating supply

This challenge can be called by ANY community member. Thus, Wise Owls will always be held to account.

Election mechanism

The election mechanism for Wise Owls prompted some discussion. At this point, it is important to flag that no voting mechanism is perfect, that there will likely be dissatisfied people whichever system we choose. Thus, we must be able to disagree and commit.

We proposed a similar framework for the nomination and election of Wise Owls to one we have had success with in the past (Funding Council adding 1 new member, Formation of the Autonomy Kick Off Group)

Term length

  • Wise Owls will be formally in place until the 28th Feb
  • After this point, the community can decide what should happen next (i.e. continue, refresh, disband). The assumption is Wise Owl will not continue to operate unless there is a clear desire for them to do so expressed by the community.

How many positions?

  • 5 “General” Wise Owls from across People Nest, Finance Nest, Growth Nest and Governance Nest
  • 2 “Product” Wise Owls from T.Nest
  • This guarantees that we have the essential technical representation within the Wise Owls
  • A logical question given this approach may be “if Technical Nest has two guaranteed spots, why not also provide a fixed number of spots to representatives from other Nests?”
  • We feel the success of the Wise Owls is best ensured if the group is composed of the most trusted and respected members of our community. This is best ensured by having a large number of positions open to a broader range of contributors. It also reduces the instances of Wise Owls being “shoehorned in” simply by virtue of them being from a smaller Nest (i.e. Governance vs Growth).

What voting system will we use?

  • We will use ranking order voting via choicevote.
  • Bronze, Silver and Gold Owls are all eligible to participate. Silver Owls will get 2x vote weighting and Gold Owls will get a 4x vote weighting

This provides the following relative vote by voting group:

Owl Level # of Owls Weighting multiplier Relative vote
Gold 28 4x 46%
Silver 37 2x 30%
Bronze 60 1x 24%

Alternative systems

It is important to remember there is no perfect election system. As such, we are keen to not get too bogged in an endless debate on the specifics of our nomination and election process. We believe the approach proposed above provides a simple method for standing up a fair, representative Wise Owls group which has broad community support.

During the call, some other alternative election mechanisms were proposed. To fairly assess them individually, more specific details would need to be provided. Some initial feedback on each has been provided below:

  • Social token / NFT based voting
    • This idea offers some really intriguing opportunities, and I would definitely support further research into it. However, setting up robust NFT based voting framework is a 6 month+ project - and there is a need for the Wise Owls now
  • Voting weights based on total contribution
    • The thinking behind this is interesting, as it looks to allocate more votes to highest context contributors as judged by historic reward
    • Using the data we have collected as part of the Comp work, we can see this has many practical issues. For example, Lemonade and myself would have comparable total votes to
    • Cav (Product WGL), Pujimak (APAC WGL), Mel (Governance Ops WGL), Praifi (F.Nest contributor), Allan (FLI) and Ed (Engineering WGL) combined.

Electing Wise Owls in the way proposed does not mean alternative systems should not be explored and used. One of our “Decision Making Truth” is “we iterate, we experiment, we improve”. We fully expect the method of nomination for Wise Owls and Nest to evolve over time. There remit itself will also evolve, as Wise Owls will progressively work through challenging decisions that arise and propose a clear decision-maker going forward.

To support this evolution we propose the formation of a “Elections and Governance Pod” which will sit within the Governance Nest. This group will work to further research alternative election and nomination processes so future nomination processes for the Wise Owls and Nest Coordinators can be conducted in the best way possible. @mel.eth , @Lavi , @sixtykeys @LemonadeAlpha , @Abel, @MrMadila it would be AWESOME to have your thinking to drive this conversation forward.

Timeline

If this proposal receives support, we look to ideally progress Wise Owls and Nest against the following timeline.

Wise Owls timeline

These timelines are aggressive, and can be delayed if further community discussion on a topic is needed. For example, if the community would prefer to explore other election mechanisms in more depth, this would significantly push back the timeline outlined here.

  • Commitment to Wise Owls confirmed and Wise Owls nomination process opens - 22nd Nov
  • Wise Owls elections - 24th Nov to 29th Nov
  • Wise Owls confirmed - 30th Nov
  • Prioritized list of roles for FT hiring shared with the community - 3rd Dec

Nests / Pods

When looking to implement the Nest and Pods we will (as ever) be flexible and iterative.

Nest will likely move at different paces as contributors in the area come together with the Change team to figure out what the Pod and Nest structure looks like.

  • Community to commit to Nest / Pod confirmed - 22nd Nov
  • Ongoing support and guidance provided to WGs to prepare them to transition to the Nest model - Now to Dec 20th
  • Mechanism for electing Nest Coordinators confirmed - 6th Dec
  • Nest Coordinators nominated and confirmed - Dec 13th to Dec 20th
  • Nest Proposal shared with F.Nest - 7th Jan
  • Nest proposal shared with Community - 14th Jan
  • Nest proposal confirmed via IIP -26th Jan

Temperature Check

Noting a “Yes” indicates a directional commitment to the proposals outlined here.

1. I support the move to a Nest / Pod model
  • Yes
  • No - I would like to further define specific Nest / Pod structures and remit now before offering support
  • Abstain

0 voters

2. I support the move to elect a temporary Wise Owl leadership with the remit as outlined above
  • Yes
  • No - I would like to further define specific Wise Owl responsibilities and remit now before offering support
  • Abstain

0 voters

3. I support the election of the temporary Wise Owl Council via the mechanisms proposed
  • Yes
  • No - I would like to explore alternative election mechanisms before proceeding with the nomination of Wise Owls
  • Abstain

0 voters

Since sharing this proposal for internal review, there has been much discussion on further expanding the hard power of Wise Owls. If you have a strong opinion on the further powers the Wise Owls should have, please provide details and a rationale in the comments below, alongside a poll to gauge community sentiment on the topic. These can then be included in this proposal.

Index Coop is considered the gold standard for DAOs. If we can succeed here, we will lay the blueprint for what an internet organization can be. Our community is ready for change, and if we can embrace it with both hands, we will guarantee Index Coop’s success in the years to come.

23 Likes

The way this contributor community has come together to put together a solution that keeps all Owls empowered while keeping us relatively nimble and decisive is impressive; thanks to everyone that contributed to this, and especially @Pepperoni_Joe for living and breathing this for months to bring this forward. There’s a good bit of nuance to this and it’s not easy to communicate the result of a long process along with the level of import and consideration that went into it, but you do a great job here. I can’t emphasize how critical this framework will be for the focused expansion of this DAO, and while we’ll surely have new and exciting challenges that develop as a result of ANY structural change, this gets us SIGNIFICANTLY closer to an effective decision making framework that keeps us competitive in the fast-moving and ever-shifting DeFi landscape.

Personally I’d like to to see the Wise Owl council have veto-power either just ahead of (Call for Vote) or following a passed IIP vote. If there is ever an execution disconnect between INDEX holders and the DAO it would be nice to have those Owls looking out. Ideally this would never get used, but some things that have been proposed and even passed previously have not been completely technically feasible, and it would be great to communicate that via veto and keep moving than to effectively vote through non-performance.

Adding a quick temp check @Pepperoni_Joe; the way I see it INDEX token voting is decisive feedback running from our community to us; if we aren’t able to execute on something we need to be able to communicate that back, as the current process in the governance forum is essentially just a way to garner feedback ahead of a vote.

  • The Wise Owl council SHOULD have veto power over PASSED IIPs
  • The Wise Owl council SHOULD have veto power over PROPOSED IIPs
  • The wise Owl council SHOULD NOT have the power to veto at all

0 voters

4 Likes

Great work, team! Excited to see this move forward and will vote FOR.

4 Likes

I’m strongly FOR this initiative.

There are so many areas of the coops activities that either fall between the cracks, or are too broad for one person / WG to feel empowered to push forward.

This either results in nothing getting done, things caught up in endless discussions / review, things being proposed by a single then hitting resistance (and then nothing happening).

So, some focus and accountability to unblock the coop is to be welcomed :clap:


On IIP’s, I’m not sure I want to give the wise owls a veto on proposed / or passed IIP’s.

However, we have seen IIP’s that could have been better prepared/discussed before voting (and I’ve been guilty of this on occasion). I think one solution could be:

  • Wise owls should discuss and publically comment on any IIP proposals before they goto vote. If they say “We support this proposal, or we think this is bad because of x, y and z” and INDEX holders vote differently then we need to have some serious strategic discussions. [Obviously the wise owls can say, “We think this is a key decision and defer to the INDEX vote”]
  • We need a process to recall / replace IIP’s that have not been implemented. I think giving the wise owls the responsibility to say “On review, implementing IIP-XXX would no benefit INDEX coop for reasons x,y, and z.”. Then we should have a snapshot to confirm the recall.
14 Likes

20210809_083942

Call me a clairvoyant but I forecasted the Council of Wise Owls!

2 Likes

This is the next step in how we create a 100 years reputation organisation. Super level up for the Index Coop!!

Also I just want to add on my thoughts for Wise Owls. On top of the roles and responsibility, one main key we need to mindful when nominating and voting is also the character values and virtues it holds. In the end Wise Owls is for and by the people, thus being an exemplary in breathing & living by Guiding Principle and Code of Code of Index Coop. Also for me it really boils down to servitude and servant leadership, thus I would personally look into this when deliberating who to nominate and who to vote on this.

Overall, I’m voting FOR for this and I’m super stocked on what 2022 is install for us as Index Coop. Onwards!!!

p.s. great would seeing the light of this finally, kudos to @Pepperoni_Joe and everyone involved in this.

5 Likes

I have been reading a lot about this and it is safe to say this is so incredible! So much work and careful thoughts being put into this and just like @pujimak_in mentioned, this is how a long-lasting, self-sustaining organization is created. One that will definitely stand the test of time and for others to follow.

I can only vote FOR this, though pretty tough to execute, but the end result is definitely going to be phenomenal and will be recorded in history, thanks to Decentralisation!

Awesome work to the team spearheading this venture, OGs, and of course, wise owls. :owl:

2022 is going to be a parliament of good stuff!

7 Likes

First, thanks to everyone involved, I think this is as transparent as it gets.

Having the wise owls being able to veto proposals concerning themselves might be a bit too recursive. Like @overanalyser highlighted, public commentary on current proposals would be great for all of us trying to stay up to date. I think that they also could facilitate the creation of proposals and help authors take everything relevant into consideration but I’m not in favor of them having veto over IIP’s before or after a vote. I’d prefer giving them agency that is very specific, especially since it is temporary. I imagine that we will evaluate what’s great about it and iterate again, perhaps keeping some or all of it. I’m for the proposal!

4 Likes

Fully agree with this!

2 Likes

Amazing work. I’m still relatively new to IC but joining during this time is so exciting because of the path forward as a leader in Defi and provider of future generational wealth as a generational organization.
I enjoyed the call & discussion last week surrounding the Wise Owls and voting mechanisms. I was not completely ready to support Wise Owls without more definition to the proposal but @Pepperoni_Joe has laid out a set of example boundaries and decision making process. Ultimately, what tipped the scales in favor for me was the clear way decisions presented to, and made by, the Wise Owls will repeatedly be driven back to the Nests/Pods if able.

  • I strongly support the entire framework of Nests, Pods, and temporary Wise Owls.
  • I would like to see a clear imperative for the Wise Owls to publicly post to the community the details of any decision the council needs to make with the amplifying context, decision made, and actions taken to empower a Nest/Pod with that decision going forward if able.
  • I struggled mightily with @mel.eth’s suggestion above. I feel strongly that @mel.eth is right and I agree that IIPs with issues (ie technically infeasible) present a problem that the Wise Owls could/should help shepherd but ultimately I have similar struggles as @overanalyser above with Wise Owls able to overpower the community vote. I would rather see a different mechanism put in place to solve this issue. I voted no for vesting the Wise Owls with veto power.
  • I am in support of researching a voting Token/NFT mechanism that empowers the highest-context contributors. Hope we can work towards that!
8 Likes

I’m also in support of Wise Owls “exercising discretion” (via commentary as @overanalyser suggests, or a veto) over proposed IIPs. I generally feel that a “yes” or “no” token-weighted vote is a poor way to make tough decisions on complex issues, and the more latitude we can provide a trusted, transparent group of people to provide context or veto power, the better we will make decisions.

Have been inspired recently by this beige paper from KeeperDAO on their “governance by apparent consensus” model: https://www.keeperdao.com/files/gov-beigepaper.pdf – summarizing a few principles below that I believe would also be beneficial for IC:

  1. When consensus is high, the system should move quickly and efficiently
  2. When consensus is low, the system should move slowly to resolve concerns
  3. The interests of individuals with large token holdings should not outweigh the interests of other participants
8 Likes

@Pepperoni_Joe awesome work on this change management undertaking. I was not completely ready to support the formation of wise owls following last weeks meeting (watched recording) however provided additional information on the wise owl responsibilities, ranking order voting and the envisioned decision making flow I am 100% in support

  • Strong support for this new organisational framework w. Nests, Pods, and temporary Wise Owls. I look forward to learning how this will impact the APWG model moving into 2022 ( community call scheduled)
  • I agree with @overanalyser comments and hope to see Wise Owls take a proactive leadership role to publicly post feedback on IIP proposals before they go to vote.
  • I second @StepvhenH comments that wise owls should operate with the “…clear imperative … to publicly post to the community the details of any decision the council needs to make with the amplifying context, decision made, and actions taken to empower a Nest/Pod with that decision going forward if able…”
  • Voted no for vesting the Wise Owls with veto power, only because of the temporary / currently experimental stage of the wise owls. This is something that I’d like to hear more about in future
  • Strong support for the ranking order vote applied here
  • Strong support for researching a voting Token/NFT mechanism that empowers the highest-context contributors.
  • Super keen to see an “Elections & Governance” pod within the Governance nest and if he has the bandwidth would like to see @afromac play a role in this. I would also like to highlight the need to have some female representation in this group too, please.
8 Likes

Just FYI owls, the future is very bright! Gn

3 Likes

I really appreciate this callout. We don’t want the Wise Owl position to accumulate more and more decision-making authority over time (whether accidentally or intentionally). Making it explicit that Wise Owls exist to solve immediate problems and then delegate is key to this being successful imo.

2 Likes

After today’s call and rereading some of the posts here I really like this sentence and feel like the words here distill down what we all were getting at. As much latitude as we can give to a trusted, transparent group

2 Likes

What a gargantuan effort bringing this together. THIS is an example of us living up to our reputation as one of the most considered and progressive DAOs :clap:

Index Coop is at an inflection point, where we could stagnate due to circular bureaucracy, or rally and evolve into a more robust organization. The process we are going through is uncomfortable and intimidating, because we care deeply about building something bigger than ourselves, and want to get it right, but we can’t let fear or perfectionism get in the way of us taking action.

I am FOR this proposal as an assertive step towards an organization that can make decisions, and act with conviction. As I mentioned in It's time to BUIDL 🤝 :

The proposed Nest and Wise Owl framework is a well though out experiment, that can drive us towards action. We have a ripcord if the Wise Owls don’t perform, which means that either lots of decisions get made, or Wise Owls are removed.


I agree with @overanalyser, and am AGAINST IIP veto power. Veto on IIPs is a slippery slope, and I support his description of softer power to transparently influence the voters.

9 Likes

It is awesome to see our community rallying behind this proposal :rocket:

At the Leadership Forum (video) on 17th Nov there was further discussion on the core principles which should underpin the Wise Owls. I have summarized these below:

Wise Owl Principles

  • Wise Owls are responsible for identifying and solving any decisions or challenges that lack a clear owner or route to resolution. They are a backstop on decision making failure and will create clear paths to unblock blockers
  • Wise Owls will use RAPID to create and/or delegate decisions to Nests or Pods to enable progressive decentralization over time.
  • Wise Owls will retain core decision making responsibility in instances where the decisions are so complex, challenging or cross-functional that they cannot be solved by any other group.
  • Wise Owls are committed to transparency and should provide a clear rationale to the community on why decisions are being made
  • Wise Owls are accountable to the Community and Token holders, both of whom have the power to disband the Wise Owls if they are unhappy with the direction. They have executive power, exercised with accountability.
  • Wise Owls are servant leaders and should champion our Guiding Principles. They should foster a sense of belonging and safety and treat all community members with empathy and respect.

Wise Owl Responsibilities

This means that up until the 28th of Feb, Wise Owls responsibilities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Prioritisation of full time hiring
  • Providing Q1 priorities to guide the creation of Nest
  • Determining funding for each Nest
  • Determining the final Compensation & Community Allocation structure to be proposed through IIP
  • Resolving conflict between Nests
  • Meeting bi-weekly with Set Labs

Wise Owl Nominations

We have now established principles for the Wise Owls to operate under and seem to have broad community support to proceed.

As such, it seems the right time to look to start the Wise Owl nomination process :rocket: I will detail the specifics of this process shortly via a separate post.

Wise Owls Name

How cool does Spartan Council, sound!? Names can make a big difference, and lacking any creative inspiration so far I have just stuck with “Wise Owls”. However, to quote some feedback, “Wise Owls - it’s a bit of a s*** name”.

Can you come up with something better?. To help get those creative juices flowing, we are introducing a community competition to rename the Wise Owls… share the winning name and you will get a $1,000 prize.

Please drop your name ideas below. Stick a :heart: if you read a name suggestion that really resonates. If there are a few popular options - we will go to the polls.

10 Likes

Super basic…

A group of owls is call a Parliament… so I’m naturally inclined to suggest.

The Parliament of Owls

or TPOs for short… :grimacing::grimacing:

TPOs of IC… even just… “The Parliament of Index Coop.”

Anyways looking forward to the creative ideas for this. :fire::fire::fire:

5 Likes

@Pepperoni_Joe Just noting that most of the discussion here has been directed towards the Wise Owls, with very little discussion done on the Pods and Nest structure. I would suggest separating these two topics in order to make sure appropriate attention and feedback is given to each topic.

5 Likes

While wise owls is not a particularly s*** name, it could potentially bring confusion to any outside parties. I think a clear and easy to understand name for this particular group would be the Index Council.

As the definition of a council is ‘a group of people who come together to consult, deliberate, or make decisions’; this would clearly communicate the general purpose and remit of this newly elected group.

13 Likes