Project Compass: Conceptual Framework

Project Compass: Conceptual Framework

This post is a result of a collaborative effort between @amyjung, @Anna , @Andrzej_Dobrucki, and @Elihu. It seeks to provide a framework for approaching the concepts of mission, vision, purpose, and values in a decentralized organization.


At an early stage of a community, a group of people rally around a shared vision, usually led by a leader. In the case of MakerDAO, its founders presented the original concept for Dai, called “eDollars”, providing a decentralized approach to developing and maintaining stability on the blockchain. As a project evolves, the organization develops a sense of purpose to its wider ecosystem: MakerDAO paved the way for Decentralized Finance first with Sai and now Dai.

Since then, with the bootstrapping from Maker Foundation, MakerDAO has made huge strides into a decentralized, autonomous organization. Community members can claim their own level of ownership in the Maker system through a spectrum of engagements: MKR holder, a Dai user, a vault owner, a contributor, a Facilitator, an integration partner and so on. The Core Unit Framework has given the DAO a coordination tool for self-directed teams to create a mandate for their domain, scope their responsibilities, apply strategies, propose a facilitator, and request a budget.

It is during this critical time, the community may want to pause and ask ourselves if the purpose and vision established by the Maker Foundation is still serving MakerDAO. Has anything changed or evolved? Does the current vision reflect the collective goals and allow independent strategies for approaching these objectives?

Why do we need a vision?

  • To Align teams around a north star: allowing them to develop their own strategy & objectives that subscribe to an overarching vision → To ensure consistency of a broader vision across the ecosystem. (Finding the balance between freedom and constraints)
  • To help connect emotionally with the ecosystem thus creating an authentic purpose for its existence (social footprint)
  • To build an enthusiastic community that actively contributes to Maker’s ecosystem through intentional growth
  • To use in the recruitment of potential talent
  • To inspire DAO marketing and business development strategies

The Purpose, Vision, Mission, and Values

The Vision, Mission, Purpose and values help an individual connect with DAO and allow smooth collaboration among its stakeholders, their joint objectives and actions. Below are these concepts, explained with examples provided.

Purpose statement

Purpose: “Why did the organisation come into existence?”

Purpose for Existence (Genesis) is at the core of an organization. It “explains an organization’s reason for existence. It explains why the organization began, and why it’s on that journey” (Source)

Example Purpose Statement

MakerDAO was built to provide anyone, anywhere with a better, unbiased, transparent way to participate in the global financial system. From the onset the founder(s) were dedicated to bringing financial stability and transparency to the world economy. Its purpose is to create an inclusive platform for economic empowerment and unlock access to the global financial marketplace for all.

Example Purpose Narrative

Beginning in 2015, the MakerDAO project operated with developers around the globe working together on the first iterations of code, architecture, and documentation. In December 2017, the first MakerDAO formal white paper was published, introducing the original Dai (now Sai) Stablecoin System.

The Dai Stablecoin System, today called the Maker Protocol, now accepts as collateral any Ethereum-based asset that has been approved by MKR holders, who also vote on corresponding Risk Parameters for each collateral asset. Voting is a critical component of the Maker decentralized governance process.

Blockchain technology provides an unprecedented opportunity to ease the public’s growing frustration with—and distrust of—dysfunctional centralized financial systems. By distributing data across a network of computers, the technology allows any group of individuals to embrace transparency rather than central-entity control. The result is an unbiased, transparent, and highly efficient permissionless system—one that can improve current global financial and monetary structures and better serve the public good.

Bitcoin was created with this goal in mind. But, while Bitcoin succeeds as a cryptocurrency on a number of levels, it is not ideal as a medium of exchange because its fixed supply and speculative nature results in volatility, which prevents it from proliferating as mainstream money.

The Dai stablecoin, on the other hand, succeeds where Bitcoin fails precisely because Dai is designed to minimize price volatility. A decentralized, unbiased, collateral-backed cryptocurrency that is soft-pegged to the US Dollar, Dai’s value is in its stability.” [source]

Vision Statement

Driven by the purpose, a Vision Statement describes where the company wants a community, or the world, to be as a result of the company’s success. Vision statements give people a sense of aspiration, inspiring action toward opportunity. A vision statement is future-looking, aspirational, and opportunity-exploring.

What is the world like 5 years from now if Maker DAO is successful? Who benefits and how? What sort of collaboration or alliances are forged? How does it enrich the development of humanity? How does the overall landscape change?

Example Vision Statement #1

A fully transparent world where anyone has access to financial markets without middlemen, all while being able to help build the financial system of tomorrow.

Example Vision Statement #2

A world in which decentralized finance is firmly established as complementing traditional finance where possible, and competing where necessary. Maker is the bridge between real world finance and decentralized finance, ushering in new users while maintaining the best permissionless, trustless system.

Mission Statement

Mission(s): “How do we want to get there?” - This can be called a long-term strategy (3-5 years, whatever we think is the time needed for the ecosystem to reach its maturity)

What is the overall strategy collapsed into 1 sentence that will make the vision come true?

Example Mission Statement

A good example of an in-depth long-term strategy comes from Derek and the PE Core Unit with their Multichain Strategy and Roadmap for Maker post.

From that post, a mission statement can be drawn:


Values are beliefs. Beliefs are behaviors. A set of values helps DAO participants align their sense of belonging. They also define the underlying attitudes that through actions will help the vision come true.

Example Values Set

Freedom and Responsibility

  • We value a high degree of autonomy and personal responsibility! Rewarding high performance, anyone can get their work done on their own schedule.
  • Take ownership of work. Propose, own, and execute work.

Good judgement

  • Exercise good judgment, make wise decisions, treat root of the problem and think strategically. Make decisions that will benefit community and align with our values.

Communication is key

  • Listen and adjust things quickly, address issues swiftly, foster tight feedback loops.
  • Work in public, care for transparency, communicate about what you’re working on.

Innovation is rewarded

  • We reward and always encourage good ideas.
  • We support and nurture teams and individuals.

Passion and purpose

  • We value having passions about something in your own life as well as in your work.
  • Having passion translates into everything you do and the attitude you have. It also makes for a rewarding culture!

Diverse people, skill sets, thoughts, and ideas

  • We address our own biases, asking for feedback
  • We strive to become more inclusive by design, we practice onboarding accordingly and value different skill sets
  • We want to become increasingly more global

Potential references

The above-mentioned purpose, vision, mission, and value statements could be referenced:

  • On the landing page

  • As part of an onboarding doc for new community members and contributors

  • In forum discussions and community meetings as an implicit or explicit anchor for actions and reactions

  • By the CUs during strategy / objective setting

Next Steps

This framework is meant to drive a discussion concerning MakerDAO’s purpose, vision, mission, and values. While it may potentially result in formal governance processes being launched, that effort will likely be led by an entity other than the Project Compass working group.

The lessons learned during our time working on this subject and the feedback collected stand at the disposal of the community.

It’s our recommendation that the community should first and foremost seek alignment (either formal or informal) on the vision statement and narrative. If governance bandwidth were to be directed towards achieving formal alignment on the high level, a vision statement seems the most reachable in terms of required consensus, all the while providing tangible value. Arguably, purpose can be objectively-defined, mission brings low-level complexity and potential micro-management of CU’s, and values are best permeated following a bottom-up process.



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