MIP39c2-SP10: Adding Sustainable Ecosystem Scaling Core Unit


MIP39c2-SP#: 10
Author(s): @wouter, @juanjuan
Status: Request for Comments (RFC)
Date Applied: 2021-04-07
Date Ratified: <yyyy-mm-dd>

Sentence Summary

MIP39c2-SP10 adds Core Unit SES-001: Sustainable Ecosystem Scaling.


Note: the information presented in this section, and more, is available as permanent documentation in our public drive as part of our transparency reporting. It will be kept up-to-date even after the publication and approval of this MIP.


With the successful launch of Multi-Collateral Dai and impressive growth of the Protocol that leaves us with $100M in annual revenues, Maker’s first significant contribution, a decentralized stablecoin, has been established. We are now facing our second big challenge: sustainably scaling the decentralized ecosystem while avoiding critical failure scenarios.

While the recipe for successfully scaling a centralized organization is quite well known, sustainably scaling decentralized organizations is mainly uncharted territory. We believe that it is critical for the success of the Protocol to systematically research the topic and continuously improve the efficiency of the decentralized economy as it grows.


Sustainably grow the Maker Protocol’s moats by systematically removing barriers between the decentralized workforce, capital, and work.


To support a decentralized, effective, and scalable economy on top of the Maker Protocol that continues to push forward its growth in a sustainable manner.

This decentralized, effective, and scalable economy:

  1. Has the best and most successful onboarding experience for new participants, with the highest retention rate in the industry.
  2. Allows everyone to find the capital they need to work on the best projects which (1) optimally drive protocol growth and (2) are most fulfilling for its participants.
  3. Has resilient safety mechanisms in place that prevent protocol failure while leaving ample space for rapid innovation and experimentation.

Core Unit ID


Core Unit Name

Sustainable Ecosystem Scaling

Core Unit Mandate

In order to support growing the Maker Protocol’s moats, SES will follow a strategy that is structured as a continuous improvement cycle, with research and development at its core. Iterating through this cycle will systematically drive the ecosystem closer to the vision that was outlined.

In a typical iteration: (1) new scaling bottlenecks are first identified, (2) research is then conducted on how to remove these bottlenecks, and, finally, (3) activities are funded and kick-started to implement practical solutions in line with the research.

Opportunity and Risk Assessment

Because the problem space is so large, it will be critical that we do not attempt to solve every problem at once but instead focus solely on a set of carefully selected priorities.

  • Identify opportunities and risks affecting the sustainable scaling of the ecosystem through engagement with the different DAO stakeholders.
  • Maintain an open backlog of these opportunities and risks, and make it accessible to the broader community.
  • Define research projects to act on the opportunities and risks that are documented in the backlog. Each project has a clear set of Objectives and Key Results.
  • Prioritize these research projects based on (1) what the greatest need is and (2) the most significant impact that the team can have with their set of skills and expertise.


Systematic research will target the identified bottlenecks, leading to repeatable solutions that help the ecosystem scale sustainably.

  • Assemble the right team and appoint a project lead to work on the following priority on the roadmap.
  • Coordinate stakeholder engagement and reach alignment on the objectives and key results of the project.
  • Collect the necessary data and develop models to verify research assumptions and offer insight into the problem. Publish the results for the community.
  • Explore solutions and frameworks that produce high-quality, repeatable results.

Initial Research Roadmap

SES will start out with three initial research projects from day one. Below is an overview of the objectives as they have been defined for now (still subject to change). When these projects are finished, new ones will be started.

01. Project Dog Food

Capture lessons learned from setting up a core unit ourselves.

  • Successful SES CU Setup: Go through the entire process of setting up a core unit ourselves, including (1) conception, (2) team formation, (3) legal setup, (4) budgeting, (5) partner outreach, (6) communication / transparency reporting, and (7) governance MIP approval.
  • Initial Documentation: Systematically document first impressions and the process in general, while going through it: required steps, work we do, available information, challenges and hurdles, …
  • Communication and Reporting Setup: Establish an online presence of SES CU through the creation of (TBD) a website, forum section, … Set up the processes for systematic transparency reporting and comms attuned to the decentralized ecosystem.
  • Kick-start Incubation Program: Create the incubator program and provide coaching to a number of early Core Units / Domain Teams starting out. Incorporate those experiences in the documentation.
  • Publish Results and Next Steps: Based on these initial experiences, create a first list of potential projects for the sustainable ecosystem scaling core unit that can improve the process. Synthesize, present the results to the Maker community and make documentation available.

» Project Dog Food OKRs

02. Project X-Ray

Create an initial model for the developer onboarding funnel.

  • Best practices for technical talent on-boarding:
    Research the best practices for technical talent on-boarding. Gather a baseline for what great developer onboarding experience looks like inside and outside of the crypto industry. Do a self-assessment of where we are relative to these practices and set the desired target developer onboarding experience for the Maker protocol.
  • Maker-specific onboarding funnel draft: Create an initial draft of the model and framework that represents the Maker-specific on-boarding funnel (V1), its current state, and identified bottlenecks. Ensure that this draft can be used to be iterated and improved upon.
  • First pass of the funnel: Do an initial pass over the on-boarding funnel’s model (V1) for developers by reaching out to developer communities, conducting a first round of interviews, and survey collecting existing information.
  • Improved onboarding funnel: Deliver an improved onboarding funnel (V2) that reflects the current live view status and has worked in data collection, tracking and documentation processes.
  • Future project recommendations: Deliver a set of future project recommendations to further improve the onboarding funnel and overall developer experience. Rank by opportunity size, ROI, utility for the Maker Protocol stakeholders/teams.
  • Communicate results to governance community: Communicate the project results to the governance community - present the results & give access to the dashboard and documentation.

» Project X-Ray OKRs

03. Project Guardrail

Support kick-starting the decentralized safety infrastructure.

  • Early safety infrastructure: Reduce the risk of a “crash during take-off” with the Foundation transitioning to the DAO. Put the early safety infrastructure in place together with the early core units. Set a high standard for future ecosystem participants and help shape the Maker ecosystem culture in the process.
  • Best practices guidance: Reach out to the various technical core units and discuss their safety and security strategy. Provide feedback and guidance based on prior experience in the Foundation.
  • Self-accountability auditing: Help core units to keep themselves accountable by offering a regular audit of their internal processes and practices. Boost the participating core unit’s legitimacy, and strengthen confidence in them by publishing an audit report for governance.
  • Security discussions: Organize a regular security discussion group with participation of the major technical and risk domain teams.
  • Lead by example: Help shape the Maker ecosystem culture by creating the expectation of external auditing, security summits, etc. from the start. Create the necessary visibility in the community to achieve this effect.

» Detailed Project Guardrail OKRs coming soon


Our research must not be purely academic but, instead, be firmly grounded in reality. The produced solutions need to be implemented and maintained in the long run: incubation is a critical element of our strategy.

  • Identify areas of activity that our research shows would contribute to more efficient and sustainable ecosystem scaling.
  • Connect individuals and teams to conduct these activities continuously. Set the team up for success to become an independent Core Unit.
  • Guide and support the team throughout the process, including (1) conception, (2) team formation, (3) legal setup, (4) budgeting, (5) partner outreach, (6) communication/transparency reporting, and (7) governance MIP approval.

Initial Incubation Roadmap

SES will start out with three initial incubation teams from day one. This is an overview of the objectives as they have been defined for now (still subject to change):

01. JavaScript Product Development CU

Develop web applications and tools that maximize participation, simplify complexity, and democratize access in the Maker protocol.

  • Develop dapps, web applications, and open-source tools (e.g. dai.js) for the Maker ecosystem
  • Design delightful & meaningful user experiences and intuitive interfaces improving the Developer & Community Experience
  • Provide support for maintaining existing applications that are vital to the Maker protocol and community (e.g. Governance Portal, Liquidations Portal, Migration Portal)
02. Integration Core Unit

Grow the number of Dai and Maker Protocol integrations by lowering the technical barriers of entry for third party integrators.

  • Ensure that external teams can achieve business value and build safe and robust integrations with the Maker Protocol by providing best in class technical support
  • Commitment to support and collaborate with a Growth Core Unit or any other facilitator of partnerships from a technical point of view
  • Protect the MakerDAO ecosystem moat by maintaining technical relationships with existing and new integration partners
  • Creation of integration tooling, documentation, developer guides, and code examples
  • Ensure that integrators are aware of changes to the Maker Protocol, and actively try to identify and mitigate any potential issues that might arise
  • Facilitate migration of integration partner ecosystem throughout large protocol upgrades

» Integrations MIP draft

03. Incubator CU

Increase the successful development of new businesses (teams/Core Units), job creation and employment in areas that are aligned with Maker Protocol’s unique sustainable growth opportunities.

  • Set up an incubation program that will be implemented with participating teams
  • Support participating teams for 3 - 6 months in all aspects of the incubation process
  • Close interaction with incubating core units to understand their needs and collecting feedback on the program for achieving continuous improvement
  • Team covers 3 domain expert areas (people, business, tech profiles experts) + generalists
  • Collaboration with external partners (e.g. educators, recruiters)


Next to the continuous improvement cycle to promote new solutions for sustainable ecosystem scaling, the core unit will also engage in related Sponsorship (and Advisory) activities.

  • Incubation Program Funding provides the necessary financial support for incubator teams to be paid throughout the program, until the publication of their MIP and governance approval of their own budget.
  • Scholarship Grants identify and test a potential Contributor before making a longer-term commitment in a Core Unit or with the DAO.
  • Micro-Grants are intended to test an idea by building an MVP with minimal scope. For experimentation and discovery.
  • Development Grants are aimed at the conception and development of a platform or product that requires a more significant effort.


There is no formal reporting and management structure in the decentralized ecosystem, as is typical for centralized organizations. We believe that a secondary, advisory function performed by mature Core Units will be critical for covering those needs.

We plan the following advisory activities through partnerships with other core units:

  • Help teams to conduct transparency reporting, establish best practices, and organize self-accountability auditing.
  • Offer ceremonies facilitation for core units that do not have a full-time agile coach.
  • Act as trusted third party for Dark Spells to verify critical protocol vulnerabilities and confirm the necessity for a dark spell and the correctness of its implementation.

Transparency Reporting and Self-Accountability

We believe that sustainable scaling of a decentralized organization will require a great deal of transparency reporting and self-accountability mechanisms to perform the function of traditional alignment, reporting and evaluation mechanisms found in centralized organizations.

Apart from the research that we will conduct around this, we’ll start with applying a number of practices in our own core unit to explore their dynamics and potentially set an example for others to follow:

  1. Objectives and Key Results for all our projects as the primary way of communicating goals and tracking progress against those goals. These OKRs will be published on a website that will be kept up-to-date all the time, so that everyone can inspect not just what we’re working on, but also what has already been achieved.
    » Review the Roadmap with OKRs

  2. Weekly Status Update Calls with a documentation trail that can easily be reviewed by anyone who is interested. These calls are already happening every Friday at 14:30 UTC. Every week, an overarching topic is formulated to make the archive more accessible.
    » Review the Status Call Archive

  3. Standardized Core Unit Documentation – We believe that with a growing number of core units in the ecosystem, the need will arise for standardized reporting about several aspects of the team’s activities, goals, and performance. While no standard exists today, we have structured our own core unit documentation in a format that we hope can be reused by others, including the projects in our incubator program.
    » Review the Core Unit Documentation

  4. Self-Accountability Audits – Last but not least, we’re introducing the notion of self-accountability audits, whereby we will work with an independent external party in the community to:

    • Work out and agree on best practices and standards that we want to hold ourselves accountable to as a team.
    • Publicly commit to following this set of best practices and standards.
    • Have regular reviews with the third party to audit the team’s operations, assess to what extent these practices are followed in reality, and formulate improvements where needed.
    • Have a public record of these audits available for full transparency.

    We are currently talking with Seb Derivaux to implement this and will update the RFC with more details soon.

While we are pionering these practices with our own Core Unit, we will be able to support other Core Units through our Advisory Program to implement similar mechanisms based on our own experience.

SES Discord Chat

» Join our Discord server for further discussion and questions.

Related Documents

Core Unit Budget MIP
Core Unit Facilitator MIP


I am convinced this one is going to be important. Right now multiple Core Units are being proposed but the community has no way of checking the internal workings of the groups. We have literally no idea what people are doing. With a profitable organization such as Maker it is very easy to propose new and promising Core Units with the result that the organization grows horizontally like mold in a Petri dish, endlessly adding new non-essential activities. At the same time, due to the much higher abstraction level required, the very necessary vertical growth (such as scaling) can be much harder to achieve.

You might consider adding the following bullet to your “Dog food”.

  • State of Scaling. What are the present ideas about scaling at Maker? Have there been ideas in the past that have been discarded? And why? There is just no way so many smart people can not think about that. And how to get there? Last from the foundation was the Linux of money, but that post is nearly 1.5 years old and extremely vague.

Thank you for this👍 It’s long over due! When @Kurt_Barry saids that Ethereum is no bueno—he ain’t kidding—there’s no sugar coding it—miner extracted value is real—we are getting bent over with no Vaseline: https://youtu.be/Wd0at2Pu6xY

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