September Product Update

Authors

Abel: CEO & Founder of GameB Ventures, Consensys Mafia member (ex Consensys), Entrepreneur First alum, Abel’s Abstracts Podcast host (Crypto podcast), Core Organiser for the largest Ethereum hackathons around the world ETHGlobal (Designed the ETHLondon experience), Co-leading the PWG alongside Cavalier & the rest of the product leaders.

Cavalier: building the PWG we need and want, while making Punia redundant. Previously scaled product startups as founder, Product Lead and Chief of Staff.

Preread: OA shared a rich recount of how the product working group (PWG) came into existence, and the journey to date. Please read OA’s post first, as this post is a sequel.

Where We Came From

In October of 2020, the Coop was a nascent amalgamation of product, engineering and methodology capability from Set and Defi Pulse. $DPI and the FLI indexes came to life from Set’s deep technical prowess and DFP’s DeFi foresight. Apart from some Index contributors doing bounties, the vast majority of engineering work was completed by Set.

  • Engineering: DPI was launched using Set’s v2 infrastructure that took 3 months of development. The infrastructure for FLI took an additional 3 months of development.
  • Product: With a lot of help from DFP, the product prioritization was relatively simple; get DPI out, maintain it, and then start working on FLI products.

What We’re Experiencing Now

There are currently 8 key products in consideration (pre DG2) and $DATA about to go live.

There is justified frustration and tension about the slow pace of launching products, and the opaque process for methodologists to work through. Products were proposed by methodologists and moved through decision gates with support, and we now find ourselves in a position where we are unable to deliver on all the products at once. With our early product successes, enthusiasm ran ahead of product and engineering capability.

Methodologists and the wider Index community have been unintentionally distant from the reality of a small number of people working hard to build and maintain complex products. In some cases, R&D is needed in order to deliver the products as specified, but this wasn’t clear. In other cases, important details of IIPs were only identified as blockers after approval. For us to grow as an organization and become a movement, we need to do better.

What used to work for Index in the past is now becoming problematic, and in some ways has contributed to the frustration many of us are feeling. The fact that anyone can gather support for a new product, and progress through the IIP process is truly a beautiful demonstration of #HowWeDAO and why Index is a special place.

At the same time, however, this outpouring of new product ideas, without prioritisation or sufficient framework to follow, have contributed to the chaotic stalemate we now find ourselves in. As an example, voting on products in isolation does not take into account that only a finite number of products can be built and launched in any one period.

Moving Towards Product and Engineering 2.0

Index is the market leader in crypto index products, with a great brand, a thriving community and many hundreds of millions invested in our offerings. We have a pipeline of products that we’d like to build, and methodologists wanting to build with us. We are in a good place, with a unique opportunity to build an organization of the future.

A DAO has unique elements of ownership, accountability, and community, wrapped up into a novel organizational structure. As Index matures and becomes more of a product organization, there are two distinct types of transformations for us to go through:

  1. Product hygiene: Implementing the well-supported best practices for product and engineering organizations, borrowed from web2 and uncontroversial in nature.
  2. Product at a DAO: Deciding as a community how we want to be structured, how we want to operate, and how to hold each other accountable - juicy, novel and exciting.

Product Hygiene

Drawing from established product and engineering practices in modern web2 companies, Product Working Group (PWG) and Engineering Working Group (EWG) have so far improved in the following ways:

  1. Lack of engineering capacity → @ncitron and @0xModene were hired as full-time EWG engineers. @dylan is still on loan from Set, but now there are 3 engineers dedicated to Index product development and coop operations.
  2. Opaque product onboarding process. → A refreshed process by @catjam and @overanalyser on updating the product onboarding process, so that products can be developed more efficiently, and methodologists have greater transparency.
  3. Unclear product technical feasibility → @puniaviision’s Product Feasibility Awareness forum post is a great reference for methodologists to better understand technical feasibility. The next iteration of this will be more detailed and include upcoming R&D releases. Please keep your eyes on the forum for updates!
  4. PWG being reactive instead of proactive → With the support of EWG, PWG will begin sequencing work, by collating inputs from product and Index maintenance, IIPs, and other key influences like the Set roadmap. (The scope of PWG decision making still to be determined via Index 2.0 workshops)
  5. EWG being reactive instead of proactive → Ed taking leadership of EWG process, introducing and owning sprints and capacity planning, and becoming the first line of contact to reduce interruptions will go a long way to reduce reactivity.
  6. EWG having limited forward visibility → Introduced weekly sprints for EWG; a fixed amount of well-specified work is prepared and scheduled to deliver against the key priorities of product launches, maintenance and coop operation (how EWG and PWG determine priorities will be explored separately in Index 2.0 workshops).
  7. Unclear responsibilities and process within PWG → PWG is shifting towards specialized squads based on product type; Automated Indices Pod lead by @afromac and Simple Indices Pod lead by @Financial-Freedom on updating the product onboarding process, so that products can be developed more efficiently, and methodologists have greater transparency.

For anyone who would like to discuss product and engineering best practices, Ed and Cavalier will have two AMA sessions over the coming few weeks. Will set the dates once forum feedback has been made, for anyone interested to attend, ask questions and discuss.

Product at a DAO

There is a lot we can borrow from established product and engineering, but not how to build products in the context of a DAO. This is a bleeding-edge question to solve, and it is electrifying to be tackling it with the committed and humble Index community.

As part of our Index 2.0 workshops, there are two key streams that will help define the scope and remit of PWG and EWG at Index Coop:

:hammer_and_wrench:5-the-future-of-product-and-engineering (mid to late October)

  1. The scope of decision making for PWG and EWG
  2. How the PWG and EWG leads are chosen and kept accountable
  3. How the PWG and EWG at a product DAO operates

:tophat:4-methodologists (early October)

  1. Methodologists and how we work together
  2. Determining product viability
  3. Fee negotiations

The topics are early suggestions and will be fleshed out ahead of the calls. Like all of the Index 2.0 workshops, these are open to everyone and are designed for us to come together and design the next iteration of our DAO. If successful, the workshops will elicit the community’s views, distil them into themes, and reach high-quality decisions that we can support with conviction.

Next Steps

  • $DATA going live today → get behind our newest launch and get ready for more
  • Index 2.0 workshops → get involved, build up context and contribute to how we can run an effective product & engineering organization in the next phase of Index Coop
  • PWG to work closer with existing methodologists → A member of the PWG will reach out to all methodologists with feedback and tactical next steps
  • New products are coming :rocket: Automated and Simple Indices pods will be proposing products via our standard product onboarding process and IIPs

Get ready for Season 3 of PWG and EWG…

20 Likes

Awesome update @Abel and @Cavalier_Eth - Index Coop is lucky to have you and I’m excited to see what the future of Product and Engineering holds.

In particular, the point below resonated with me - and I am strongly supportive of delegating more authority for decision making to our world class product and engineering teams.

6 Likes

This is so great to read and receive @Abel and @Cavalier_Eth - thank you.

I’m keen to see PWG i) have more say in product prioritization, ii) sequencing work, and ii) building a World class E and PWG. I personally would also love to be able to look at a dashboard somewhere from your crew and know (within reason and ad hoc changes) what products are coming down the line for the next three to six months.

So glad to see people with your skillset, personalities and hunger getting involved with the Coop.

4 Likes

This x1000000

Couldn’t be more excited for the future of PWG and EWG.

7 Likes