On delivery

Over the past few months, we have seen a few initiatives applying for funding or already being funded to provide services to the Aragon Network. This is specifically relevant for those teams/groups that will be focused on synthesizing the representation of the entire network, namely:

This post crystallized as a result of discussions with some of the delivery teams on these projects. Through these conversations, it became apparent that the delivery teams will be facing the all too well familiar sample bias. The post of @Sertac also provided an outline of the stakeholder landscape with respect to the Aragon Network. Having worked on strategic stakeholder alignment with organizations such as PIF, EBRD, STC, and EDF I would like to share a perspective on delivery to mitigate that bias.

This post in no way presents a critique of the proposals or the teams, it is simply a summary of conversations had so that it can be referenced in future discussions around initiatives aimed to capture Network-wide consensus.

Process & team composition

The purpose of the compensated contributors (working groups/teams, however, they are called) is not to come up with the outcome as a group. They are being compensated for running a structured process of capturing the positions of different stakeholder groups and crystallizing a preliminary consensus to be voted on.

This distinction is very important as it means that ideally, the teams will be professional and not have a strong personal bias towards how the final outcome should look but rather focus on an inclusive process.

At least the following stakeholder groups are identified and should be part of the parties consulted in the above-mentioned projects, but also in any effort attempting to be representative of the network:

  • Full-time contributors through the core teams (AA/AL)
  • Leadership of the core teams (AA/AL)
  • Contributors direct to the DAO (full time as well as occasional ones)
  • Large token holders (investors and court stakers)
  • Projects/teams actively using the Aragon stack or building

The process should ensure fair representation of each stakeholder group. I would probably opt for fair=equal as outweighing any of those stakeholder groups introduces assumptions for their relative importance to the Network and I would personally abstain from making those.

Ultimately the token holders will have the decision-making power regardless, however, given historical engagement on proposals of <0.2% of the Network swaying the decision won’t be difficult.

Tyrannies of horizontal participation

It is extremely important to design the above processes so as to not favor the stakeholders who have the luxury to be compensated to be part of the processes or have the time wealth to be present at every meeting.

What we have commonly witnessed as community inclusive initiatives in web3 often fail at this. It is unfair to assume representatives of every stakeholder group above will have the time wealth to participate in weekly Miro-board sessions where we “collectively” decide on [a thing]. As a result, initiatives end up with echo chambers of contributors who like to hang out in Miro and produce something that might not resonate with others, who have prioritized other forms of network contributions. It is important also to keep in mind that holographic consensus does not really work if you run it in a sample drawn from a single stakeholder group.

My hope is the teams compensated within the above-mentioned proposals can amend these process failures we have experienced in the past.

Tagging the respective proposers of the initiatives mentioned above as myself and the entire network are relying on their leadership and expertise. Hope this has been helpful to you and those that will come after. Happy to keep the conversation going.

@lee0007 @noturhandle @mheuer

Sincerely,
Capitulation.eth

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Thanks for the post here @fartunov. I think it is helpful to crystallise the issues that have been faced.

Do you foresee a tender process being developed that takes feedback from prescribed holders within the community before a proposal is approved? Or do you see it as making sure there is a budget to reward people for their time and/or empathy for the time of stakeholders when a proposal is being drafted that needs their input?

Appreciate your wisdom here.

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Could not agree more. Our nascent proposal and funding process has created a lot of focus on “the deliverable” and it’s wise to keep a perspective that we want to reach an outcome (not just have a thing done).

I think it is important for these teams to keep this perspective and, especially, to coordinate together

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Hi Ivan

Appreciate your guidance here and this need for equal opportunity and diverse represenation.

Based on your experience and the anonymity of wallet addresses, how long would you need yourself to try and first identify, contact, engage and involve this level of diverse stakeholder participation? Is there anyone within the AA that has worked on this or that you advise we need to talk with? Is this something you could help action?

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Totally agree with this perspective Ivan. As a member of the umbrella team I feel involved in this issue. There are three types of conflicts that I see and partly resent in relation to the problem expressed:

  • Those calling for the development of more inclusive solutions (which I think is legitimate as a request) are the same ones that put pressure on the group to respond to KPIs in a very tight time frame. Inclusion of perceptions takes time, and the rhythms of these procedures are not compatible with building inclusive cultural processes.
  • How do you stimulate the participation of various stakeholders when little has been demonstrated? Is it legitimate to ask a busy stakeholder to allocate time to an initiative that has not yet proven any results?
  • Culture always suffers since it cannot be quantified, it is invisible since if present and experienced the problems diminish (somewhat like all prevention policies), it can partially be thought of and discussed but it exists first and foremost in the daily practice of individuals: it is the aggregation of individual behaviours oriented in unconscious, integrated, and group-affiliated social norms (what’s called Habitus in sociology).

Finally, regarding the umbrella group, more specifically the cultural part, it is important to clarify the direction taken. The discussions that are taking place in this group lead precisely about finding ways to involve different categories of people more. We are not thinking about how to do culture but rather what to do to create a context in which culture can be facilitated, coached, discussed across the various groups present in Aragon.

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Do we have an idea of why is this happening?

Yes, we do and Vitalik’s articles sums it up nicely: Moving beyond coin voting governance

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I also agree with the things you have said, @fartunov.
This is a very challenging problem and I think it can’t be solved by the proposal makers alone. Drafting a proposal, gathering support, and running a working group afterwards is already a big amount of work with large barriers of uncertainty in each step. I experienced this myself, and I even have the luxury of having peace of mind regarding payments because of my fixed employment.

However, as an employee, I realize that most colleagues of mine are overworking. Working 60 hours is the norm rather than the exception, which comes along with severe physical and mental health risks.

We find that job satisfaction increases when people work more than 55 h per week. However, we also find that hours worked linearly erode workers’ mental health. These findings imply that people who overvalue job satisfaction work excessive hours, consequently damaging their mental health. People may hold incorrect beliefs and underestimate the mental health risks of overwork, which may lead them to work longer hours. Our findings imply that educational and regulatory interventions are needed for both workers and employers to reduce the detrimental impacts on mental health caused by overwork.

Source: Why Do People Overwork at the Risk of Impairing Mental Health? | SpringerLink

I propose that we also seriously reconsider our working culture, which IMO also plays a major role to solve the issues you described.
We put enormous pressure on ourselves by making tight deadlines and our desire to grow, expand, and capture market shares while merging and decentralizing in parallel.
I think our working culture has to generally become more healthy and adapt to the MVVs we have.

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On a long enough horizon, sure. Instead of overengineering around it at this point, it makes sense to count on the ESD for funding requests and on the community at large for Main DAO proposals to keep teams accountable for adhering to this best practice, or a version of it…obviously, I do not want to pretend to have the right answers, hopefully, a guideline of what an inclusive process actually means will emerge as a result of the discussion here. As the number of proposals to which this relates, it was important to get it out there to avoid a “we did not know better” learning experience.

This is a tricky question. Identification and contact are relatively easy - there is relative clarity around at least some of the large public investors in the Aragon project (@AlexClay can potentially share specific names). The large projects built on Aragon are public domain ( @mroldann can add clarity and relevant references). The other stakeholders are public. Those stages shouldn’t really take more than a few hours of work. Engaging and involvement are highly dependent on the effort and expertise of the team delivering the work.

An obvious quick solution is to have a well-structured and short session with each stakeholder group (not taking more than 3 hours from the stakeholders for the duration). An obvious no-no is having many “collective working sessions” with the same stakeholder group and expecting to arrive at a representative consensus.

I think this is a valid point specifically from the Umbrella proposal since it’s the one that already has set KPIs. There are a few nuances here. The demand is for specific KPIs and for a match between KPIs and budget requests. It can take a few weeks to schedule meetings with the different stakeholder groups, at the same time this is a few hours of effort spread over many weeks, not full or part-time effort.

As shared before I think communicating where and why the estimated efforts have expanded and working to readjust those KPIs is the correct path.

People do not care. We had something like 16+ contributors work on a proposal and then 22 vote - it’s an absolute apathy on the voting side and whether switching from token voting to 1 address 1 vote will change this is at the time a theoretical assumption…not at all exploring the implications and the potential agency issues streaming from the decoupling of decisionmaking power and economic alignment of incentives. Also, such a model will inadvertently exacerbate the tyrannies of horizontal participation.

Completely agree with the argument about overworking. At least on paper, I have recently scaled down my involvement in the AA due to burnout earlier this year. This is a major reason why the community contributors that are compensated for “discovering the network consensus” on a specific topic should create the security for stakeholders to have their voices heard. Otherwise, people keep feeling that if they don’t tend to every single matter their needs will not be met. Please note that I am not at all covering the trust dimension, even with the best intentions one stakeholder group might not be aware of the needs of another (e.g. I want to build a governance utopia based on wide consensus that is also representative for the different contributors. Meanwhile users are not getting their needs met and churning away).

Who else should be involved in this?

Last, but not least while the delivery teams cannot ensure the participation of all stakeholder groups they should demonstrate reasonable effort. I think we should all be questioning both the legitimacy and the ethics of a deliverable supposed to be representative of the network while the process has consciously ignored stakeholder groups…ultimately that questioning will happen during the voting process, but as noted some of those groups are silenced due to imbalances in both token distribution and census participation rights (e.g. stakers in Court cannot vote)

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Thank you for the further advice, given you understand the path forward is this something you could help us deliver on @fartunova as there is funding for this via dGov Advisory Circle

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I feel and understand this (commonly shared) frustration. Nonetheless, it would useful to dig deeper and find a more actionable answer. Why people do not care? What can be done to create incentive? Is it just a matter of governance or there’s something else? Personally, I’m not a fan of pure token voting (plutocracy) and at the same time I understand the symmetric concerns on 1address1 vote, again probably not the best option at this point. As the Vitalik’s article linked by @mheuer states, there might be a wide range of nuances between these two poles, and within this range experiments could be possibly done. For example, five cathegories of stakeholders have been aligned. One could think of a flexible and adjustable balanced system, perhaps divided into clusters, something similar to the French pre-revolution system or the Roman republican system, in which all cathegories are taken into consideration as such, with a system of weights and balances. Or just split the voting between different methods according to the type of instance. This is just to throw out some ideas, hope not to sound too abstract. Certainly, if the priority is to increase participation and the current system does not allow it, some changes or incentives need to be implemented (I know there are pages and pages on the forum about this, I don’t want to be redundant!). Otherwise, just decrease the quorum and surrender, as you rightly write, to the fact that whales have the power to subvert the vote.
Another late-comer idea to extend participation and inclusion: what if one member from each identified category (maybe picked on a rotation basis to share the burden) attended the umbrella group meetings, would that be too much of a time demand?

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Because human attention is the scarcest resource we have. The number of organisations where you care enough to form an informed position and vote (leaving the crafting proposals and rallying others completely out of it) is very limited (unless it’s your actual job, or one of your jobs - e.g. in the case of delegates). Not sure what the solution is, but in my view there are at least 3 components to it:

  • expertise (extremely subjective)
  • skin in the game (shared econ upside, but not only)
  • context (how recent and relevant is your understanding of the organisational environment, both internal and external)…tenure and recency

Do not intend for this to become a census formation discussion though

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Hi there, here you can find a list for Mainnet Aragon Client DAOs votes, voters, proposals and AUM.

Best,
Martin

cc @lee0007

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