Changes to the Governance and Risk Call | No more general team updates

Changes to the Governance and Risk Call | No more general team updates

Team updates will be replaced with Team discussion slots. Core Units should no longer aim to provide a general update but instead should use this time to present pertinent issues and topics related to their work for the purpose of educating and engaging stakeholders.

The Problem

The problem is that team updates are a growing segment, proportionally taking up more and more of the call. As additional Core Units come into existence, the current format will not be able to scale.

The main question is whether the Governance and Risk call should be used for general-purpose team updates? We don’t believe it should and here are the main reasons why:

  • Written updates are better for this purpose (see below.)
  • Information overload; there’s too much and not enough time. We can’t reliably cover everything anyway.
  • Information overload; makes the audience’s focus wane, causing engagement and discussion to suffer.
  • Information overload; people can’t and don’t try to retain it all anyway.
  • Delivering updates in this way is generally inefficient; difficult to reference, search, and retain.

Who is the audience at GnR?

The primary participants of the call are Core Units and working group members. They make up the majority of presentations and communication on the call.

The secondary audience, who don’t communicate as much, is composed of a number of existing stakeholder groups, as well as individuals interested in becoming stakeholders; MKR voters, Dai users, Vault users, collateral partners, auction participants, integrators, MIP authors, and more.

Reestablishing the Purpose of the Call

Throughout the life of the call, its primary purpose has shifted a few times. In the beginning, it was to prime the community for decentralized governance. Shortly after, with the introduction of “Domain Teams” and the MIPs Framework, the call moved towards more generalized status updates and discussion turning into somewhat of a “TownHall” meeting with a Governance and Risk emphasis. Since then there seems to be a general confusion about the purpose of the call; Is it to de-silo information between teams? Is it transparency? Is it to provide stakeholders with a venue to engage with MakerDAO teams around issues? Is it to keep DAO teams accountable? In recent times the purpose has become mixed and unclear. Here is a chance for us to reign things in again.

The Governance and Risk call at MakerDAO is a public call and so an aspect of it will always involve stakeholder awareness and transparency, But the primary purpose of the call cannot be so. There’s simply too much to be aware of and transparent about and so it doesn’t scale. We can achieve this through more reliable means. Namely through publications like Maker Relay, Forum at a Glance, the Weekly MIPs Update, and also through specific team updates and reports. All of these can be found on the Forum, and over time we intend to make all this material accessible from multiple points.

We believe the primary purpose of the call is discussion and engagement around pertinent issues, solutions, considerations, and risks in a venue where affected stakeholder types can be a part of the conversation. Do you agree?

  • Agree
  • Disagree
  • I have another suggestion, check out my comment
  • Abstain

0 voters

Presented vs Written Updates

Updates can be given in many ways. What is the difference between a presented(and recorded) vs a written(and published) update? Here’s a table.


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It might be better to approach the question from another angle, which is to ask ourselves first what communication and coordination needs in the DAO exist. And then in a second step create a suitable format around those, rather than starting from an existing meeting that may have lost its relevance within a scaled-up organization and then try to repurpose it.

Internal Coordination/Communication Needs

Two Axes

Typically, the greatest internal coordination needs within an organization center around two axes:

  • Cross-functional business goals: projects, products, features, roadmap, strategic initiatives, OKRs, etc. – these improve understanding of and alignment around common vision, high-level goals, and tasks and progress reporting around on these items.

  • Functional communication needs: knowledge sharing between peers, agreements on work practices, etc. within a specific or general professional field or area of expertise: engineering (smart contracts, back-end development, front-end development, …), risk, operations, etc.

Mapping to Teams

Typically, teams are primarily organized around one of the two: cross-functional business/project/product teams or functional support teams. Some are truly a mix, but that’s usually a sign of poor organization.

The confusion is that the two may have different coordination needs: a techops support team (functional) doesn’t have end-to-end product updates because they don’t own the product. And a product team doesn’t have an end-to-end legal update because they don’t own the legal function.

In the DAO too, CUs centered around business goals will have different coordination needs than those centered around function.

External Coordination/Communication Needs

Next to that, there are a whole bunch of external communication and coordination needs. I think reporting to and dialogue with MKR holders and delegates is a big part of that. (And there are many obvious PR, marketing, and other communication needs that have suffered from the decentralization of Maker.)

Scaling up the G&R Call

The G&R call managed to both cover the high-level internal coordination needs (with the MA call for the more concrete planning) and be a platform for MKR holders.

As we scale up, we may want to:

  1. Improve efficiency / stick to the more scalable medium where possible: emphasizing written communication is a great idea in this regard.

  2. Start splitting up the different coordination needs in separate calls for the content that still requires or benefits from direct interaction. The tricky thing is that these may no longer line up with the CU divisions.

MKR stakeholder interaction should be separated in a different call because it’s an external communication need. It isn’t concerned with organizing work.

For the internal coordination needs, one way of approaching this:

  • Make a list of the major business initiatives (business activities, products, projects, …) and a list of the major functions (growth, risk, legal, engineering, etc.)

  • Define a hierarchy within these with different abstraction levels: FE Development is part of engineering, RWAs are part of collateral onboarding.

  • Organize coordination calls with items in the two hierarchies as the topic. As the DAO scales, go deeper down the hierarchies to make the calls more specific.

This may sound like a centralized way of working, but it’s really not. Think of it as a map rather than an enforced structure: it’s descriptive not prescriptive.

Conclusions

Unfortunately I don’t have the time right now to do the exercise more thoroughly, but, following this to its conclusions, I think what is needed would be something like this:

  • A vision shaping / roadmap planning event, for example twice a year. This helps defining the major business initiatives. This can be organized as a conference with organized facilitation, doesn’t have to be centrally controlled.
    The output should be summarized from each core units’ point of view (basically their derived team roadmaps) and can be consolidated on a DAO level by the internal comms-focused teams.

  • Follow-up coordination calls for each of these, for example once every month for every major initiative. The cadence may depend on the activity in question.

  • Function-centered coordination calls. For example for sharing engineering practices, showing technical improvements, sharing legal considerations, etc.

  • MKR holder and delegate reporting with Q&A. Focused on the progress and the identified challenges and risks per business activity.

There are more kinds of calls, but they happen less frequently and core units only participate in the ones where they’re needed. The core units themselves are not a good element to structure communication around.

Once again, don’t assume that these have to be in the typical centralized corporate format. Think of the formats more like conferences, round tables, facilitated discussions, fireside chats, etc. The same coordination needs are covered but there isn’t a command and control structure.

And finally… which one is the G&R call or the mandated actors call? None of these are. All of them are. It doesn’t matter. Our coordination and communication needs have changed and so should the tools that we’re using.

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Thanks for this @wouter, definitely super valuable and I agree that we should be thinking more deeply about communication requirements (both internal and external). I think largely I’ve draw the same conclusions as you have - we need to be more intentional about what we’re doing. That said, there are some places in which I think we may have diverging values.

I think I’m going to try to split your post into a few main areas, then respond to those. Apologies for any misunderstanding / loss of fidelity that might come from this, but I think it’ll make it easier to structure my response.

  • Our needs have and will continue to change, and our communication strategies should change to meet our needs.
    • Internal Coordination + Communication strategies need work.
      • Teams are a bad line of division for communication, better to divide around initiatives and functions.
      • Async communication (written usually) is usually more efficient than synchronous communication (meetings usually) as the # of participants increase.
      • Mandated Actors Call may not fit our current requirements.
    • Vision Shaping and Roadmap planning should happen infrequently to determine strategy and vision - and also frame structure for followup calls.
    • Organized not centralized.
  • G&R Call may not fit our current requirements.
    • External comms are separate from internal comms.
    • MKR Holder and Delegate Reporting with Q&A.

On Changing Needs

Internal Communications need work

Pretty much agree fully on this, and I like the idea of dividing by functions especially. I can see the value of having initiative-specific calls as well, but I think these may end up being organised on a more ad-hoc basis by individual core units. Where we’re at right now, I think the hierarchy is unnecessary, and would just add complexity + meetings, it definitely seems like a good way to scale in the future though.

Completely agree that async comms are more scalable too, though I find that it is harder to motivate people to frequently check / update async communication platforms.

On the mandated actors call, I more or less agree too, it’s being more unwieldy now that there are many more participants. I like the idea of dividing it into functions as you described above - but I do want to keep the total # of meetings low, if possible. I’m wondering if it’s possible to have separate meetings simultaneously on different functions, then perhaps reconvene for 15mins at the end and cover anything critical.

Initial functions could be something like:

  • Business - What should we be working on / pursuing next.
  • Operations - Dealing with reoccurring items, governance cycle, G&R call segments, etc. Generally making sure that we’re having sensible meetings, pursuing stuff that’s important for the DAO to work smoothly.
  • Development - Technical discussion / prioritization and problem solving.

I’d like to also echo your call that having things be organized doesn’t mean they’re centralized. I feel like ‘Organised not centralized’ covers it reasonably well - and makes a nice guiding principle that is easy to communicate.

Vision Shaping

I’m still a little less sure about this, though I do recognise the problems we’re having with respect to leadership and direction. I feel like there must be some way to leverage governance tools to make this less burdensome on governance and the core units generally, but I haven’t quite landed on it.

G&R Call and current Requirements

Couple of points here. I want to push back a little on the idea that external and internal communications are different in the DAO. Due to the nature of the structure, I feel like these are always going to be somewhat mixed, and that on balance that’s probably to the good. A DAO should be more accessible and open than a traditional organization. I don’t think I want to see too many calls strictly segregated between internal and external.

Secondly, and on the G&R call specifically, I think there is a value to this call that you may be overlooking. It’s a little more nebulous, but it is there. As you’ve correctly pointed out, the DAO is changing as it grows and evolves and we absolutely need to react to this. However, changing too much too quickly does cause its own problems in alienating people as you change the community and structure that they are emotionally invested in.

The G&R call has operated nearly continuously for over 3 years at this point, it’s about the closest thing to a tradition that this community and DAO has. For that alone I think it’s worth keeping. It also allows anyone no matter their investment or agenda to speak to MakerDAO, ask questions, give feedback and generally communicate. I think it’s important to adjust the format to the times, but I would strongly push back against retiring it entirely due to that less-tangible value to the DAO and the community.

3 Likes

Thank you for the incredible replies @wouter & @LongForWisdom.

Our team’s philosophy is to approach it from both sides:

  • What are the existing practices, how can we make them better for our needs now?
  • What are the overall functional communication needs, how can we reorganize around that?

We recognize the need for both public and non-public calls at Maker due to the nature of our stakeholder ecosystem. Coordination needs to happen internally, externally, vertically, and horizontally.

I Agree with much of what both of you are saying. Our internal comms practices need a refresh. Mandated Actor calls are also struggling to scale and so I think some sort of organized split needs to happen. I like the Operations/Business/Development split Long is suggesting. I will think about it, read around, and see if there’s an improvement I can come up with to this.

I will play around with your mapping teams idea Wouter.

Tons of great thoughts here. One bit I want to emphasize is that coordination is not one thing. It’s not necessarily just “organizing work.” I believe discussion and engagement are important components to coordination. The GnR call brings this type of behavior to a room filled with both internal and external stakeholder. Creating shared space here is critical and so I don’t think we should discourage MKR stakeholder interaction here. I do think there is space for more focused calls where the sole purpose is to engage with specific stakeholder segments or specific purposes (like MKR holders for the sake of “reporting”). For the Governance and Risk call I do not think it should shift to a more internal-coordination focused call as you seem to be suggesting, Wouter.

I also want to add a bit of color to the idea of coordination at MakerDAO:

What is coordination?

Mooney and Reiley – ‘ Coordination is an orderly arrangement of group efforts to provide unity of action in the pursuit of common goals.

External & Internal Coordination differences at MakerDAO

Internal Coordination is concerned with the integration, unification, synchronization of the efforts of the departments(Core Units, PPGs, Delegates etc) to provide unity of action for pursuing common goals.

External Coordination is concerned with establishing relationships between internal teams and external stakeholders, coming towards a consensus about common goals or priorities, identifying issues or gaps in understanding, and securing a healthy feedback cycle.

Vertical & Horizontal Coordination differences at MakerDAO

Vertical Coordination is concerned with the integration, unification, synchronization of the efforts within each of the “departments.”

Horizontal Coordination is concerned with the integration, unification, synchronization of the efforts across multiple “departments”.

Nuance

Internal Horizontal - The Mandated Actors call is an example of this.
External Horizontal - The Governance and Risk call is an example of this.

Echoing Long’s comment here, I wish we could do this in a more agile way. A DAO-wide offsite is a good idea for many other reasons beyond just this, but it could be used as such.

Agreed, it should be organized around the subject matter and issues we are all working on. This has been our view from the start.

Each call we facilitate should have a well-defined purpose and format, this way we can reliably do that mapping of our communications practices org-wide and find out where and what we can add or remove to increase our efficiency. We should be “changing the tools” to fit our needs as a growing decentralized organization and the changes cited in this forum thread are an example of that. I am excited to develop a larger framework for organizing internal and external calls at MakerDAO. Your comments certainly helped my thinking around this topic, deep thanks.


I am also against “strict” segregation, but I don’t think we should think so binary. There is a spectrum between internal and external. Our external calls (GnR) have passcodes so they are not hyper-public. Our internal calls sometimes are strict (mandated actors) and sometimes are loose (SES Status Updates). At the end of the day, teams should feel comfortable making their own decisions about who to invite to specific calls; some internal calls can use external stakeholder representation. External/Internal is a good mental model from a “getting organized” perspective. It helps narrow down call audiences and thereby purposes.

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