On Building a DAO to Study Impact DAOs
Raw in the moment thoughts on building a DAO from scratch
Two month ago (May 24th, 2022), we launched a DAO to study Impact DAOs, we have since formed a team and are already on our way interviewing other DAOs. Our team is a collective of folks from web3 + impact + media. Our mission is to conduct an intensive study of DAOs that we will distill and publish as a free book and a series of podcasts and blog posts. These are my early learnings and thoughts on building a distributed autonomous organization from scratch.
I’m very proud to say our operating model has been working great so far. We have accomplished a lot in a short period of time (fundraising + groundwork+ interviewing DAOs for the study). We are a community of 70+ on Discord with 15 active contributors. Our culture is of a startup DAO which is high on energy, experimentation and moving forward quickly.
Below is a dated running log of my raw thoughts and a I journal frequently as I gain insights and learnings.
DAOs do need a leader initially that galvanizes the team and sets the course. But once the initial work’s done new leaders emerge.
It’s good to assess member skill sets to see where one can be most effective. Also get to know them, have conversations this is the best way to form relationships.
Category and channel creation on Discord should be planned. You can start of organically but as work grows create / merge channels to suit the current work-flow. Each category is like a department with sub-channels
Onboarding is important. Show new folks the way around on Discord and be available to answer
With our project I feel like we are a movie crew - different folks with relevant skill sets have come together to create a beautiful movie (write a book) together.
Always remember to stay humble
Make effort to engage folks on the sidelines in your Discord
Once you promote your work and people learn about it you’ll start finding alignment, others wanting to join in.
Be on Discord everyday even if it's just for 20 mins.
Shine the light on all active contributors - promote them, give them credit internally and on social.
Define the work-stream and list out all micro tasks
Roles will become clearer as you move along. Specifically seek out contributors for those roles
State the obvious - it's not always obvious.
Get to know your folks, DM for check-in
Define values, in case anyone deviates it's a good reminder
Let people lead and trust them for it. Train and enable them to be permissionless
Be ready to run the ship whether you are left with 5, 2 or 1 contributor. You go to run the show, your constant progress will inspire people to rejoin or new ones to join
It was a great idea to have people apply to participate since you can screen them and get to know their work in advance.
It was great to offer learning and non monetary tokens as an incentive to join since that attracted only people with right values / outlook.
It was awesome to watch @frogmonkee.eth talk on DAOs and delegation on DAY2 of our DAO. My biggest takeaway from the talk was decision making fatigue that contributors face and the need for smaller groups to work on tasks. After DAY 2 of watching this video I aligned everything for this and it has worked like magic in terms of constantly moving forward at speed.your "Decentralization & Constrained Delegation" talk at our event was great. Hope you can join us for DAOPlanet.NYC on 6/24 & 25! (Reply or DM to join.) Here's your DAODenver recording to share: daoplanet.org/events/dd22/vi…
You need more coordination initially and less later once work is defined, clearly communicated and owned by team members. Trust the team to deliver with occasional check-ins
Have fun, take enough breaks. As a collaborative project everyone owns diff pieces and that’s the beauty of co-creating
DAOs are a 24hr organization because of the distributed nature of people. Once roles are defined and tasks are clear people come and check-in their own time zone.
To stay on top of DAO activities it’s best to check-in Discord every day for 15mins or else one will miss tons of convos and may feel overwhelmed. Or like our DAO member BonzoB!3 (on Discord) who has committed to help but can only do one day a week shows up every time on that day goes through all channels, comments, does the work and shows up next week on that day to stay on top and contribute.
DAOs need self driven folks with entrepreneurial mindset who seek solutions rather than problems.
Somebody in the DAO needs to do top level planning, pre-empting issues, next steps, keep removing blockers and propelling the team forward. It could be one person or a core team.
Keep moving forward and showing progress is the key to keep the team energized and attract new contributors
You don’t have to have all the answers on Day 1, not all processes is defined on Day 1. You don’t need to be perfect on Day 1. Just get started and keep building. You’ll learn, you’ll iterate, you’ll add and evolve
Our scrappy DAO is starting to professionalize. We are putting incentive structures, delivery deadlines for micro tasks and in the process of setting up a multi-sig.
Money is a great enabler but also brings new dynamics into play. Try to minimize the toxicity that money can bring.
Value folks with passion and desire to learn above all.
On Discord try to keep the noise low and signal high. For minor collabs with teammates open a DM channel or start a thread.
Don’t form hard opinions early. Thoroughly explore and understand the topic and have an opinion but never too hard as the landscape keeps evolving.
The best way to eliminate toxicity is to define values and have open participatory discussions around budget so you have the consensus early on. Anybody who deviates can be reminded of the values
Make your DAO permissionless, enable them with great documentation and training to operate freely in alignment with the mission.
Make every member feel included even the ones who are not yet active but have shown interest, keep pulling them in the convo and give them credits on social.
Make everyone the spokesperson by providing good documentation and media training if necessary.
Operate with the spirit of largeness, in alignment with the web3 values of transparency, inclusivity and fairness.
The collective expertise and intrinsic motivation DAOs bring is unbeatable.
Stay true to the mission. Review every decision from the mission lens, is it going to help fulfill the mission. Very important to find partners that align with both mission and values.
Sense your team even if they are not saying anything openly. Be very aware of their feelings and views and bring up those topics for open discussions.
Dangers of hyper financialization in terms of putting a $ value for every task. Be aware, find a balance and continue to attract contributors that are driven by passion and purpose first.
Patience is a quality I need to develop. In an interview with Ben of Gitcoin DAO he mentioned patience as being an important quality in a DAO setting. As distributed teams we need to at-least have a 24-36hr turnaround time before jumping in to either doing the task yourself or making decisions.
Seek out folks with very specific skills sets as the DAO needs gets clearer.
Work with folks that are driven by passion first than money. You can never fail when you have a team of genuinely passionate people.
Onboarding should be a human experience and not driven by bots.
I’d share more as we go along in our DAO journey. Feel free to ask questions in “comments” if you need clarity and keep checking as I share more.