There is a famous Ben Horowitz essay entitled Peacetime CEO/ Wartime CEO. If you’re involved in startups, frontier tech, or DAOs, I think that reading the whole thing is worth your time, but here is a little TLDR:
Peacetime in business means those times when a company has a large advantage vs. the competition in its core market, and its market is growing. In times of peace, the company can focus on expanding the market and reinforcing the company’s strengths.
In wartime, a company is fending off an imminent existential threat. Such a threat can come from a wide range of sources including competition, dramatic macro economic change, market change, supply chain change, and so forth.
A classic peacetime mission is Google’s effort to make the Internet faster. Google’s position in the search market is so dominant that they determined that anything that makes the Internet faster accrues to their benefit as it enables users to do more searches. As the clear market leader, they focus more on expanding the market than dealing with their search competitors.
In contrast, a classic wartime mission was Andy Grove’s drive to get out of the memory business in the mid 1980s due to an irrepressible threat from the Japanese semiconductor companies. In this mission, the competitive threat—which could have bankrupted the company—was so great that Intel had to exit its core business, which employed 80% of its staff.
But I do think that the insights from this essay about wartime vs peacetime are fruitful, perhaps even moreso in web3. As a frontier technology, things move esp fast. Wartime is a time of existential threats, scarcity and volatility, Peacetime is a time of abundance & predictability.
As the DAO debates it’s values, I’ve noticed a cluster of peacetime values & a smaller cluster of wartime values in some of our conversations. As I write governance posts to decentralize my context, I do think it is important that we are able to understand these two mindframes & the dualism that results from them.
Since a A DAO has no CEO and power is being decentralized at Gitcoin, I am going to challenge the DAO stewards & leaders to be aware of whether they are in wartime or peacetime.
My 2 wei:
- The Great Bear was wartime, and if the DAO is ever again in a great bear or a place of scarcity, that is likely wartime.
- There are other great examples    of wartime in the web3 space we can learn from.
- Being successful during wartime is what creates a floor for peacetime. if the DAO does good, that creates a rising tide that lifts all boats (workstreams). if the DAO performs poorly, the tide goes out + takes some DAO members with it.
- People in web3 talk about decentralization of power a lot, but lets not forget that with great power comes great responsibility. Along with the great power that is decentralized as the DAO grows, how can the responsibility of stewardship of the DAO in both peacetime and wartime be shared? When the next wartime hits, how many DAO contributors will rally around this decentralized responsibility? How many will simply leave when wartime hits?