MIP39c2-SP#: 10 Author(s): @wouter, @juanjuan Contributors: Status: Accepted Date Applied: 2021-04-07 Date Ratified: <yyyy-mm-dd>
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:
- Has the best and most successful onboarding experience for new participants, with the highest retention rate in the industry.
- 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.
- Has resilient safety mechanisms in place that prevent protocol failure while leaving ample space for rapid innovation and experimentation.
Sustainable Ecosystem Scaling
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.
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.
02. Project X-Ray
Create an initial model for the developer onboarding funnel.
- Best practices for technical talent on-boarding:
Set clear direction for Maker’s best practices and aspirations in developer relations efforts, that is backed by industry broad research, benchmarking, and expert insights.
- Maker-specific onboarding funnel draft: Prototype the model of Maker’s tech talent onboarding and retention funnel and its components that capture the current situation.
- First pass of the funnel: The model prototype is validated and improved upon via user research.
- Improved onboarding funnel: The model is functional and has implemented processes.
- Future project recommendations: Have an informed insight into the prospective future projects that can address detected bottlenecks, prioritized in accordance to their importance/ impact/ cost.
- Communicate results to governance community:
- First Quarter: Work progress and accumulated knowledge are shared with the governance community in a transparent and comprehensible way allowing them to understand the work done + work left on the model.
- Second Quarter: All results and accumulated knowledge are shared with the governance community in a transparent and comprehensible way allowing them to use the model with minimal effort.
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 two initial incubation teams from day one. This is an overview of the objectives as they have been defined for now (still subject to change):
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. 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)
We are talking to a number of interested parties to consider further incubation teams in the following areas:
- Smart Contracts Development, because we believe that parallelizing SC development work will be key to further scaling the ecosystem.
- Legal Core Unit, to work on high-priority legal frameworks that the DAO and its core units will need.
- More to come
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.
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:
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
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
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
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.
Seb Derivaux agreed to take up the role of self-accountability auditor for the SES Core Unit.
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.
» Join our Discord server for further discussion and questions.