S17 Proposal DAO Ops Budget Request - Integrated

Re: @griff @lefterisjp

I’m still pretty new around here and this is my first budget cycle. But I can sympathize pretty well with the fact that a central inefficiency seems baked into the budget process - and there is certainly a lack of clear consequence to no-votes…

It feels to me a bit like Gitcoin is a start-up that is forced to fundraise every quarter - stealing resources and energy away from the core work of building-the-damn thing :hammer_and_wrench:

In start-up world it’s well known-- if you’re always fundraising, you’re never building, and so where funding in Series A is a huge indicator of having won trust and achieved impressive traction - Series D round is likely an indicator of the opposite. But Gitcoin’s got the funding- we already won- but every quarter there’s a reset and we’re failing to absorb the strategic benefit which drives companies to seek runway to begin with.

Gitcoin has long ago won their initial runway and while quarterly check-ins on strategy and course-correction fuel progress, making it tethered to the budget (and therefor heavy on PR, and a source of safety-disruption for the individuals involved) means we’re not really getting the benefits of running full speed at the goalpost…

In practice I suspect that this is what would happen if DAO Ops’ Budget didn’t pass:

  1. The work of community management, support, and people-management would cease to get done, or likely be done very incompletely by the other workstreams
  1. A toll would be absorbed by the wider Gitcoin community- Discord rooms, Telegram chats, going unanswered. Gitcoin’s biggest asset: its reputation-- would be severely endangered.

  2. Extra stressors would be added to every workstream lead, and likely delegated partially to a few others besides, making the other workstreams significantly less efficient than they could otherwise be.

  3. Morale would be challenged; not improved. Brain drain would result- recruitment of top talent where it’s needed would become nearly impossible.

If the team is meant to be lean at the expense of in person and virtual connections (retreat budget, community calls, solid hiring practices etc.) – there won’t be a team before long.

@epowell101 I think I tend to disagree on your point that the way forward: “we engage with the workstreams to help them work towards product market fit” –

There’s no “product” in the nebulous connections of a highly functioning team. But there’s no product possible without a unified and motivated team.

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ahh, yes @ale.k I didn’t mean to suggest the team wasn’t crucial for achieving that product market fit - more that tracking progress towards that goal plus GTC utility / revenue would help us know whether we are, well, making progress as a collective. The TL;DR of my post is I think we are making that progress, however it is too hard to tell.

Again it could be @griff was just asking a rhetorical question however I think you answered it pretty accurately.

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It is not rhetorical. There are only two scenarios. How can anyone vote no if they don’t know what that option even means. I think it the only way we can have a fair vote is to have a clear understanding of what the result of voting “no” looks like.

Is it… I think there are reserves… And maybe some would get absorbed into other work streams…

Also… If that’s the case, then this is just not a fair vote. It makes voting “No” way too hard, vote no and you layoff a whole working group and we’re all screwed. What is even the point of voting? We need a better system if this is the case.

This is why I am asking this question… so I don’t have to yolo the vote. … and i’m asking in every work stream… what happens if we vote no…

Doesn’t it seem weird that we have so many details about what voting yes looks like… but we don’t know what voting know looks like… I think that is a huge problem.

I wish we had more options than battle it out in the forum and then yes/no.

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Well said, without even mentioning that the “funders” in this case are mostly retail holders of the GTC token and not VC. There isn’t anything wrong with this specific budget and clearly a lot of thought has gone into it. But the fact that this quarterly budget process is still a thing is a massive failing of DAOops more broadly.

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This. Exactly this is the problem. I’m supportive of this budget because I’ve seen DAO ops shift its focus to directly addressing governance issues. Shawn has done amazing work with the steward council so far. We will see about the results, but it is experimentation in the right direction.

I trust that the thinking behind those moves can address this particular problem around TINA (There Is No Alternative). I also trust that they will respond to the urgency put forward by yourself, Lefteris, Kevin Olsen and others.

This is not saying, or even asking you to change your line of questioning or vote. My intention here is to share my point of view.

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Disclaimer: I am one of the stewards assigned to this budget process.

I think overall there seems to be some (very valid) frustration with how the budget process is currently run. Like @griff is saying, there is no granularity. We either take everything as it is (with some edits as a result of forum discussion), or we vote no and bar the workstream from the entirety of its funding. Also, in general, I think it is strange that we place ultimate budget oversight in the hands of community members without determining whether they have the prerequisite knowledge (both technical and contextual) to make these decisions. I think it would be best for us to separate priority decisions (what we think we should focus on), from monetary decisions (how much we should spend on the work we’re doing). Quite honestly, I’m looking at these financial numbers with no clue as to whether or not they are reasonable or not. How much do comparable organizations spend on this kind of work? What even is a “comparable organization” in this case? These are questions I do not have the background to really answer, yet are essential to giving a balanced analysis of this budget.

Further, the week or two we get to analyze these budgets is hardly enough warning to, in the event we are disappointed, say “no.” Ideally, we would like the workstreams to have some idea well in advance if they are “on track” or not, as opposed to receiving that feedback all at once every quarter. In the spirit of that, I will vote yes (probably), but with the following stipulations:

  • DAO Ops prioritizes fixing the budget process to maximize the usefulness of community input (I do not believe this is on the current list of initiatives/projects)
  • If a new budget process is not in place (or at least ready to be implemented) by the end of the quarter, then I will vote no on DAO Ops next quarter.

^ Open to feedback on these stipulations.

To be fair, my vote is largely symbolic, as it is small enough to be insignificant (side note: why assign stewards to review certain budgets if their votes are often insignificant compared to unassigned stewards?). However, I hope the overall thinking behind it will be useful in some way.

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Thanks so much to all for the lively discussion under our proposal - while reading these I was nodding yes so many times. There is indeed a lot to solve with regard to DAO governance. The fact that so many Stewards are actively engaging under this post shows how much they care about our mission, and in all sincerity I can only say that this warms my heart, because we do too. This engagement also shows we are making progress: you are asking the hard questions, this is what DAO governance is all about.

Operating a DAO is tough, as DAOs are a new beast and we need to find answers to some of these questions collectively - this is not something just Gitcoin is struggling with, all DAOs are. As @owocki mentioned yesterday, ‘solving’ governance is probably as hard as sybil resistance. I’d even argue it’s much harder: it’s a key reason for why web3 is here, and it’s definitely why I am here.

DAO Ops’ Impact

So, with this intro let’s dive in further. Starting at the top with @griff’s comment as Jodi already responded to most of what is above.

I agree mostly with the above sentiment, and there’s a few things that come to mind.

First one I do want to highlight and I hope this does not come across as defensive: I disagree that we failed at reorganizing. I think we have made immense progress under very challenging circumstances, as our DAO has radically evolved over the past year, and so have we - all while being a driver of many of these changes throughout the DAO, as you can see above in our Milestone Report and previous ones, see at the top of the S16 and S15 requests. We have been at the service of the DAO, rolled with the punches, fired and hired, and we did this while constantly reducing our budget (as Jodi points out here) and taking on more responsibilities, with a smaller team than we started out with. This is of course not sustainable in the long run, and this is starting to show.

On legacy structural decisions, agree - the workstreams setup and the key governance elements were set up before DAO Ops even existed. Now we have CSDO and an internal decision making process, but even getting to an official purpose for CSDO and getting this ratified internally took a few seasons. Same on our Purpose and Essential Intents and many other key decisions. We also lost some valuable time along the way by having to rehire and restructure countless times in many areas, but hey, that comes with the territory.

On the past season: I agree we failed at passing a new budgeting process, and we should have prioritized this even more, as you point out Griff, and as Lunacat says here:

True. A lot of work was done here though, as you can revisit here, which included a solution to what you point out here @chaselb:

So this is to be continued in the upcoming season. A very important note on this: it was a CSDO-level decision to stick with the current budgeting process one more round, as we are about to reorganize in S18, which will automatically resolve some of these tensions as it will increase granularity and the ease to say yes/no (more on this further down). This joint decision is one of the key reasons for our ‘failure’, but not the only one. We ourselves also recognized pieces were missing in this complex puzzle. On that note, this is a crucial call out. In comparison to other workstreams, DAO Ops is very often the catherder, but not per se the final decision maker when it comes to achieving its own(ed) outcomes.

On the level of Steward governance processes (very much interlinked), I share @DisruptionJoe’s sentiment that with Shawn we have some hardcore talent onboard to improve these and we already have, this is a major win only which started to materialize over the past season (so much coming up!).

All of this is however no excuse, we have to do better.

As mentioned, we need more focus, as @J9leger and @DisruptionJoe pointed out as well - we are doing too many things, which results in unsatisfactory solutions, or lack of time to properly execute projects within a season. We are currently picking up speed to move in the direction of thinner workstreams, as hinted at by @kyle in this post.

For S18 we are considering splitting up in two workstreams, one focusing solely on Governance, another one on Operations, which includes people operations, tooling and treasury management. This will most likely also come with some leadership changes, as we totally recognize our own shortcomings in managing these key DAO processes. None of this is set in stone, but already sharing our current thinking for transparency’s sake. We will heavily involve the Steward Council in our thought process (for changes to our and other workstreams). It is a work in progress and cannot happen overnight - we need our upcoming season for this - a lot will be discussed in person during our in-person Denver retreat, which is by the way also covered with this budget. And a lot has already been happening here - again, with deep strategic involvement of DAO Ops along the way, as Evan points out:

On the voting process

I can only nod here and agree - all of the below is fair and it’s massively inefficient:

First point is what I mentioned above: we will be, and are rapidly evolving into thinner workstreams, which will make it easier to give more granular feedback, as you will have less to grok at one time. Next to this we are continuing to revisit and optimize all governance processes, both internally (CSDO) as well as on a Steward level and are heavily investing in Steward engagement (getting more of your expertise helps us - the Steward Council is just one step here). Reworking the budgeting process and ratifying this is a key outcome, as you can read above. I am very happy that CSDO decided not to pass the linked budget proposal, as it was doomed to fail. But I know we would be held accountable for this today, and this is okay, and fair.

I know none of these answers are ‘enough’, but we can only point out that we have increased our budget for governance, and it is our number one focus for this upcoming season. The upcoming structural changes to the DAO and increased focus on governance in and by itself will hopefully help to satisfy some of the questions here.

On what will happen if you vote no

Because we are making key decisions in Denver you will get news very soon on our reorg. So just not getting any budget right now would be highly disruptive. Our reserves will not be able to cover 3 months. One month is already used to cover one month of salaries, because we have a legacy delay in payouts cross-dao of one month (and yes, we know this needs fixing). So we have one month left, which can probably cover part of the monthly salaries, the expenses of our retreat. Things like Steward compensation, professional development and many other things will be paused.

On this:

As mentioned, thinner workstreams and an adapted budget flow will make yes/no’s less heavy and disruptive. We need those no’s, we need Stewards who are critical! And we need to discuss with Stewards on how to get there. This is why we have the Steward council, and more initiatives are coming.

Related to this:

We now have (1) monthly steward calls where we update you on progress - and continue to ask for feedback on how we can make these more interactive, how we can make adjustments as you see fit, we have (2) a biweekly Steward Council plus ad-hoc check-ins with Stewards, and we welcome all feedback in between, we also have (3) monthly CSDO Digests in this forum and (4) we have our monthly DAO Digest, which we are - yet again - revamping in this upcoming season. All of these are meant to involve and engage you. It is however, as @ale.k also points out above important to keep this balance between defending our budgets and actually getting the work done. But we are listening.

So tl;dr - right now a no vote would mean that

  1. a -either we rework the budget and cut some minor initiatives the top voters deem unnecessary and we repropose.
    b - we put up our budget on snapshot per initiative and pass what can get passed, rework the no’s.

  2. we cut major initiatives and many things come to a screeching halt in the midst of a reorg, and we spend a few weeks to explain what the impact will be of these cuts, leading to increased inefficiency. We then re-propose and pass this budget.

  3. or we decide to entirely stop DAO Ops - which means emergency mode for the entire DAO, for some of the reasons outlined by @ale.k and @epowell101 above, so I won’t repeat those (this response is getting very long :sweat_smile:).

So we do hope our budget will be passed, ideally with no changes or minor ones - if you can let us know what to drop for this season. To be honest, this is not for the psychological safety of our contributors - although we do care, however as Stewards this is not your role - but because we have a lot lined up. Even if it’s not always visible, we are making massive progress, operational change on a decentralized level is hard. We’ve got work to do and thank you for the reminder.

Once again, all the criticism is valid, and welcomed. :pray: Both @Jodi and myself will happily jump on a call with any of you - @griff you have an unopened dm waiting for you, and a call scheduled with @J9leger later today.

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Thanks for this Kris. I appreciate your open response to all of this criticism (it is not easy).

I will be voting yes on this proposal. I’m not really sure whether or not it is necessary to cut some of the initiatives shown on the request, so I’ll defer that to the other stewards engaged here.

It seems like you all have a lot of unknown/ambiguous work coming up (lots of decisions being made in Denver). Have you left enough room on your plate to take up this work when it comes?

If you had to cut 10% (as far as time/effort required goes) of the projects/initiatives shown in your budget request, what would you cut? Why? What would be the impact of that? If the impact is low, why leave it on?

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Great to hear Chase, appreciated!

Yes. I’ll be doubling down on governance, our key focus and the area where much of this ambiguity is situated, and @shawn16400, whose hours we’ve increased, will be my sparring partner. Next to the continued support of Jodi on all DAO Ops topics, we hope many of our top Stewards will continue to step up to the challenge too.

The simple answer is that we already cut all the ‘fat’ in the previous seasons. As discussed just now with @J9leger we think what is left is all high impact, but often invisible. It’s not our main focus, but it is mission critical, it’s what makes us ‘flow’. Professional development of the team, or organizing a retreat, or reviewing access, setting up a discord logic, creating norms and values, documenting procedures and increasing internal and external transparency, … all of this might seem superfluous from the outside (even from the inside), but it is not.

It is what turns degens into regens, mercenaries into missionaries (©️ @DisruptionJoe :cupid:), it’s what turns a DAO into an Impact Network.

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Thx Kris, you are an incredible professional and this was a fantastic and informative response. I still have to vote no, and i don’t think there is anything that can change my mind :-/

2 or 3 are the only options here IMO… and I lean towards 3. I hope that other workstreams can some how absorb some of the work and team members from the work stream.

I am hoping for a move to more product focused teams that have more autonomy to be scrappy. If this proposal doesn’t pass, it will undoubtedly cause a lot of stress on other workstreams… but I don’t see any other way to pivot and maintain accountability given the process in front of us.

On a side note, this is also helping to reduce the spend of Gitcoin, which IMO is still too large given the output and market conditions. There are obviously important responsibilities that this workstream is doing that have to be done, the other work streams can hopefully band together to support these tasks and retain some of the talent that lies in DAOops.

This all sucks, there is no good solution, but the best of the bad options we have in front of us IMO is to vote no on DAOops this season :frowning:

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I have been really conflicted on how to approach DAO Ops budget this season. I feel DAO ops has struggled to unlock its secret powers. I am partially responsible for this and it kills me as I love each of these people immensely.

So much of what Griff has mentioned resonates, and I am finding myself wanting to double down on “the most important thing.”

I will likely vote no on this budget this season and take option 3.

One alternative might be to have a commitment to fund DAO Ops in S17 with the expectation there is no DAO Ops in S18 (ie, the current path FDD is on). The critical functions can be moved to other workstreams, or they can be dropped. ie, our support function is immensely important during our alpha rounds, but it should likely live within each respective protocol team to ensure they are truly internalizing the feedback they receive. Governance work likely needs a revamp to be more nimble and “always on.” I have some idea on how that might work, but it will be scrappy.

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Yes! Scrappy! GitcoinDAO needs this.

Thanks to everyone who provided feedback here. We’ll be sharing a new post with 3 options for funding DAO Ops in S17 over the weekend. In any event, like FDD, this will be DAO Ops’ last season. More information to come.

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For the record, I support this budget, but I also support it being a last season for the workstream.

I think Governance should likely be it’s own “thin” workstream. Contributor support such as People Ops & Hiring might be a part of this if we frame it as “Stakeholder Relations” serving contributors, stewards, & token holders.

I’m not sure how this would work considering the communication flow for user support deals with inbound requests. It would be a huge change to have support saying, “I’m the Passport support, let me get you the Program Manager support”. Perhaps this could be mitigated by moving from real-time support to scheduled support with a chatbot submitting requests to the proper channels. There would likely need to be at least 1-2 full time people as a hub to the product team support spokes.

Conclusion

I would like to see this budget pass so we can jointly align on a path forward in person at EthDenver. However, I do see that a No vote isn’t a no to this workstream this season, but could also be a request to rework this budget to lower its cost, clarify deliverables, or commit to future structural change. For this reason, I’d urge any stewards planning to vote no, to directly address what requirements you have for an acceptable update to this proposal.

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Above you can now see our integrated proposal: we will not be requesting any funds from the DAO and will be winding down our workstream over the course of the coming months while continuing to support the DAO with a reduced workforce - more info on all of this above!

Thanks for all your feedback @tigress @Viriya @epowell101 @chaselb @J9leger @DisruptionJoe @griff @lefterisjp @ale.k @Lunacat @kyle.

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For the new integrated post:

It looks like from this we’re moving in the direction of workstreams becoming more autonomous, with operations being embedded in each product team, as opposed to a seaparate DAO-wide operations team. However, there are still some unavoidable DAO-wide operations requirements: CSDO and community governance. Where will these live?

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CSDO has rotating facilitation and this change in DAO Ops will likely not impact that dramatically.

Governance is something I would love to see some thought put into… perhaps via proposal to fund experiments in the future. IMO we are finding the governance models that were developed and rolled out during the bull market, with lots of fever for what we were doing, are not serving us today. Times are different and we have not started from first principles on what we want to accomplish with governance now that multiple protocols are live, “always on” development is occurring, and we want to encourage emergent work from the DAO. this is just my .02 gwei.

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Thanks Jodi - the revised post is really thoughtful, and expresses so much gratitude for those who have made such a stable place for the rest of the DAO to enjoy :pray:

I am supportive of the new path, very grateful for the hard work to get us here… and also immensely glad we still get to have folks at the retreat.

If the facilitation sessions are not shaping up to be great, perhaps we can recoup those funds and have a couple of us host the team with sessions instead?

I don’t see a need to go to a vote personally.

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Who will be in charge of the CSDO digest? What about other org-wide operations requirements?

I definitely agree that our governance model should be revisited from a first principles perspective. However, even setting that up will take effort. Who will undergo that effort if we don’t have a place for it?

My concerns include the following:

  • Governance evaporates into the ether. Occasional ideas pop up on the forum, but none of them are executed
  • The steward program currently in place remains in place, and since no one is officially in charge of managing it, the program deteriorates in effectiveness over time
  • After some seasons, someone wields their token-power in an unpopular way, and now we try to put a big band-aid on a problem we should have thoughtfully considered seasons earlier
  • After many seasons, Gitcoin slowly devolves into what is essentially a digital, stock corporation. Our primary concerns become about increasing the price of GTC, rather than fulfilling the mission
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Hey @Jodi_GitcoinDAO thanks for all the time and energy you put into this proposal. I am in this particular workstream so I am refraining from commenting on the proposal itself.

Related to the ratification of this proposal and speaking from a governance perspective, I think we need to take this to a vote on snapshot.
Why?

  1. It allows for the dissonant votes to be cast - those who disagree.
  2. An official vote eliminates/reduces the risk of later noise related to “unilateral decisions”.
  3. The vote authorizes reserve spending on projects vs. compensating for GTC fluctuations (the original intent of reserves)
  4. A vote hardens spending proposals under the “Amount” section
  5. A vote keeps the decision process consistent - introducing this precedent allows for future cases to argue for circumventing the vote.

With no funds changing wallets, I do not see a need a Tally vote, just the snapshot.

I might be shooting myself in the foot, but from a principled governance position, this is what I think should happen.

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