As the conversation on community relations (namely, GTC holder relations) unfolds here, it felt appropriate to share some context with the wider group in order to further the conversation on community engagement and make some operational suggestions on how to move forward.
- As of right now, MMM has failed to produce a meaningful community engagement plan due to a variety of reasons (both within and outside of our control) which are outlined in this post
- We feel that we as a DAO we need to be more intentional in how we resource community engagement
- We feel this work requires a dedicated team to support the development of a meaningful strategy and this post is intended to solicit a conversation about this direction
- The end of this post details what we feel needs to be true for community engagement initiatives to be successful at Gitcoin
When the DAO launched in 2021, PGF, DAO Ops and MMM had all embarked on working their own community engagement initiatives—DAO vibes, Public Goods Library, Public Goods are Good, Memepalooza, to name a few efforts.
As the DAO began to make moves to its protocol future, there wasn’t a clear picture on how community engagement in its former state would support its new direction.
Additionally, there was a lack of enthusiasm for having all of the community engagement efforts being spread across all of the workstreams - duplicative work was being done and there was a general lack of strategy & coordination amongst the teams. This made it extremely difficult to measure the ROI of these initiatives…which was especially pertinent as the market turned.
So moves were made to slowly align and consolidate community engagement efforts. As we sunsetted the Public Goods Library (RIP), refocused the efforts of the (former) Grassroots substream at PGF to specifically support grantee engagement and began to shift the focus of DAO Ops away from community engagement and more towards streamlining ops and strategy across the DAO, community engagement seemed to fit under the umbrella of the MMM workstream.
At the time, this made sense to all of us for 2 reasons:
- Community engagement is heavily tied to building brand affinity and a brand community, if meaningfully engaged, can support a grassroots proliferation of a project’s mission.
- MMM has historically (although not strategically) been one of the main centres of community, creativity and vibes at Gitcoin. At least from our perspective, it seemed like a reasonable thing for MMM to take on.
- MMM also owned public-facing channels (like Twitter) where some of these activities were still taking place.
So, MMM declared our intentions around community in our seasonal OKRs and we spent the latter half of Season 15 and the beginning of Season 16:
- auditing the different groups (whether we want to call them stakeholders, sub-communities, customers, users, etc.) that might matter to the DAO’s future; and identifying what is being done to support these groups
- coming up with recommendations for how we might resource these groups (also in a matrix of stakeholders vs workstreams responsible)
- engaging in DAO-wide conversations to address resource gaps and started seeding conversations on a direction for a community-engagement strategy with some great preliminary (but uncoordinated) thinking laid out by myself, Scott and Kyle with help from Kris
- began to draft a community hub in Notion that segments our different audiences and provides key info those stakeholders need to make sense of our they can interact and participate with and within the DAO
Challenges we faced & what we learned
Aligning on a community engagement strategy was more difficult to coordinate than we had originally expected. Over these months, we have encountered some challenges as they relate to building out a meaningful, widely-accepted plan:
Implicit deprioritization. Over the course of the year, the DAO has increasingly focused its resources to develop and launch the protocols. In light of those changes, resourcing meaningful community engagement activities (which are often longer-burn initiatives) has been difficult to make a case for—often with pushback during budgeting season. Moreover, with this initiative being cross-functional, complex and seemingly lower priority than, say, building our products and planning changes to the program, it moved slow and consensus was difficult to find as attention was elsewhere.
Internal shifts were happening at a people level. As we began this work in S15, our working culture suffered a bit from a series of offboards and shifts in leadership. Many changes were happening at the DAO that left contributors uncertain of their future—I believe this created a lack of psychological safety for the initial audit that was performed. Moreover, this audit was performed by Gary Sheng, who was a new (and therefore unknkown) contributor at the time.
Lack of business strategy. The historical lack of a business strategy (which is now being amended by CSDO) and lack of clarity on key audiences (which has been amended - see MMM’s S16 audience breakdown) has made it difficult to create an intentional community engagement strategy that discerns which constituents count as community members vs. audiences and clarifies goals that ladder up to specific business outcomes.
Lack of authority and unclear decision rights. A meta-challenge we faced in addressing these challenges was the issue of DAO decision rights and MMM’s authority to lead in the absence of consensus. As we discovered, different contributors have different mental models of what community is. This work also impacts our DAO roadmap and is directly tied to our culture and values as a DAO. We noticed that these conditions created a slight political predicament as we began to make recommendations to operate from. This meta challenge relates to the larger operational and strategic challenges of the DAO—which ultimately fell out of the scope of this work.
As a co-lead of the MMM workstream, I’d like to acknowledge our WS failures in being able to effectively move this work forward. I don’t think our efforts were fruitless—many lessons were learned but I want to personally acknowledge that we could have done more to coordinate efforts in this area. Here are areas we feel we could have improved upon:
We got started with the community engagement audit and development of a community engagement strategy without having explicit buy-in from the different cross-workstream stakeholders. We made the assumption that we had DAO-wide buy-in to undergo an audit and we did not do foundational work to create a sense of psychological safety and enthusiasm around the process. Relatedly, we didn’t sufficiently interrogate whether the MMM workstream (aka the marketing team)—or any current workstream—was well-suited to lead this work (both in contributor skillset and organizational decision rights).
We did not align on the most foundational pieces of this strategy, which is establishing a shared definition of terms and creating shared mental models amongst DAO members as they relate to community engagement. The terms “community” or “community engagement” are used liberally across the org (and the entire web3 ecosystem) without a shared, agreed-upon definition. The definition of “community” we initially used to unblock our work (although, perhaps prematurely) is that community engagement = activities that progress our priority stakeholder groups through their respective acquisition-retention funnels; and that community = the sum of our priority stakeholder groups. Which, to me, feel more aligned to a marketing paradigm vs. an org cultural paradigm. I feel that more work needs to be done to align the DAO on this foundational piece but it is complex and difficult to find rough consensus on.
It took time to recognize the nature of the challenges we were experiencing, but we could have been more proactive in raising our challenges to our Stewards & DAO leadership.
We could have been more proactive in laying out and implementing the following recommendations we’re outlining out in this document.
We’d like to discuss the potential of a thin workstream to be created to support community engagement
Given the challenges outlined above, our team believes that community engagement should not live within the domain of the marketing team.
We believe that a community strategy, important, impacts all of our work and is something that should be lead by a small, skilled team specifically empowered by DAO leadership to:
- Host design sessions to co-create a community strategy that includes lots of opportunity for DAO contributors across streams to weigh in
- lead the execution of the strategy
- solely own the key results of this strategy
We believe this team should have enough resources on its own to not have to draw resources from other workstreams, and repeat confusing coordination challenges.
There are a few additional things worth noting re: why we think this is our best option as a DAO:
There is an inherent understanding that as a DAO and a leader in web3, community engagement is important for us to achieve our mission but there is still a lack of shared agreement on how community (or various sub-communities beyond a developer community) will serve protocol adoption and/or how community should be engaged to achieve our shared goals. We think that having a dedicated team to seek answers and strategize around these questions will best serve this initiative.
A skilled driver needs to be appropriately positioned to align us around shared definitions and determine our best foot forward. This person would lead strategy development and execution in this area with input from the workstreams and added p/t support if need be. We believe it will be more effective for a community strategy to be developed by a small team of people who are wholly focused on this initiative vs. solely staffed by contributors who only have a part-time focus on community work.
And last, but certainly not least, as the marketing team, we would like to dedicate our resources to focus on the product marketing work that is needed to drive protocol adoption—as we launch and grow 3 protocols, we have made MAJOR strides in this area and we would like to keep up our momentum here. Given the amount of foundational work that needs to be done in order to create a community strategy and then execute said strategy, we feel we are currently not resourced appropriately to give the time and attention this deserves.
Here are some initial goals we believe a community team should achieve in the first season of its existence, in sequential order:
Run design sessions with a select group of contributors to secure and document concepts such as:
- community engagement
- community support
Run design sessions with a select group of contributors to secure and document answers to these questions:
- What is the purpose of this team?
- What does success look like? What are their objectives?
- How does this team support Essential Intents and protocol adoption?
- How does this team’s roadmap ladder up to an overall DAO strategy/roadmap?
- How does this team interact with other workstreams? What are the team’s lines of authority, roles and responsibilities within the DAO’s structure?
- How do our protocol user bases relate to “community”? How does community relate and differ from DevRel?
- Are there multiple communities? Or sub-communities? How will you prioritize which ones are served?
Summarize findings and propose a strategy that answers the above and solicit for DAO-wide feedback
We also think that the lead of this initiative should be embedded in the CSDO body and/or the Steward Council to bolster a connection to our overall strategic direction
Moreover, in order to set a community team up for success, we believe that as a DAO we should…
- clearly articulate and socialize long-term organizational goals that a community strategy can ladder up to. We’re happy to report that there are internal discussions and forum discussions happening around this but wanted to make this super explicit here.
- secure strong organizational buy-in and a shared agreement around decision rights as it comes to this area. There should be be no question on what kinds of decisions the community team has authority to make at its inception.
- Optional: propose tentative definitions and answers to the words and questions above, with the understanding that the community team can thoughtfully modify these tentative answers. This is to ensure that the work the community team does has legitimacy from DAO leadership from the start.
- Community work, under most reasonable definitions of “community,” can support the success of Gitcoin DAO.
- But in order for a community team to be successful, they need strong buy-in from DAO leadership from the start and it needs to be clear how their work ladders up to DAO-wide organizational goals.
- Under the “Summary of Community Engagement @ MMM,” section of this post we share some documents that will help get the new team on the right foot.
- Finally, we’re happy to advise and participate in this process as needed.
If we collectively feel that this work should still live under MMM, we’re happy to reassess and co-create an approach that will create a shared desired outcome.