NoDW #11: talentDAO 2022 year in review
The Newsletter of Decentralized Work: Data-driven insights on the world of decentralized work
Curated by the talentDAO community. Complied by ItamarGo
In this edition:
Intro by Saulthorin
Our feature article: talentDAO 2022 Research Guild recap
Elsewhere in Web3
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What a year it has been for the DAO ecosystem. Through the good, the bad, and the absolutely scandalous, the crypto community persevered through another year of industry turmoil, technological innovations, DAO experiments, and lessons learned. Some of my favorite moments were spent sharing talentDAO research insights and communicating with friends at places like MCON, ETH Denver, Art Basel Miami, Devcon in Bogota, and DeSci day at ETH Amsterdam.
We have grown from a small set of people discussing ideas to a community of thousands executing on a vision. This transformation has been very exciting to be a part of and I believe we are well-positioned to make 2023 a year of huge business and community growth.
Thank you for your continued support as we embark on studying the greatest human coordination experiment of our time. With your help, we will all have access to a future of work that is truly decentralized enough for all to enjoy the benefits of self-sovereign work. A future where DAOs truly thrive. A future where we no longer even call them DAOs and community-operated business models becomes the standard for all internet native organizations.
With the help of this community, I have no doubt we will manifest a future where thousands of decentralized workers can operate in a digital bankless nation.
Onwards and upwards!
talentDAO 2022 Research Guild recap
Our researchers are the heart of talentDAO, and in 2022 we saw the Research Guild come to life.
We are proud to share with you a list of 8 projects that we’ve been working on with our different community-operated teams. This is a summary of our milestones and things we will be working on during 2023, which promises to be an exciting year for the Research Guild.
1) Network health survey
In decentralized organizations, we have the opportunity to analyze more data than ever before. Governance processes and other on-chain activity is made publicly available thanks to the blockchain and off-chain communication data is accessible through various API services. For example, both Discord and Discourse offer public APIs for data extraction.
But communication and on-chain activity still do not tell the complete picture of what is happening under the hood. We must also extract data on the psychosocial properties of the organization in order to have a complete understanding of the health of a DAO. To do so, our team has designed a survey that will collect the data necessary to understand the health of organizations so DAO leaders can take action to improve the experience of contributors. Learn more about our process of designing this survey and the theoretical discussion here.
We will be launching a series of organizational assessment pilot studies in 2023 with DAOs who want to use science-backed tooling to assess their community health. Survey participants will have access to a non-transferable proof of completion NFT made claimable at the end of the survey which will unlock access to future perks and drops. Survey participants will also have the option to opt into our data-sharing program and earn a share of transaction fees generated from our Data NFTs minted on Ocean Marketplace.
2) Project L.I.O.N.
L.I.O.N: Language Informatics on Organizational Networks
Project LION is a joint DAO effort from talentDAO and LabDAO to build natural language processing systems for analyzing and maintaining community health.
For DAOs specifically, transaction data can provide insight into on-chain governance operations and degrees of decentralization. However, many DAO operations occur off-chain in the form of relational data. And there is a particular piece of information that is both deeply insightful and stored off-chain: communication.
This is a software project that will build a tool that will allow us to do research. It is in the development stage and the team is raising funds on Gitcoin. Be sure to check out their grant page if you are as excited about this project as we are. The project roadmap write-up can be found here.
3) Decentralized Leadership
“DAOs don’t have hierarchies” “You don’t have a boss” “Daos are leaderless”
-Is that so?
At talentDAO, we believe that leadership emerges naturally in any human organization. DAOs are no exception to this, so we decided to study how leadership works in a decentralized space. We began with an extensive literature review on organizational leadership where we covered the last 25+ years of academic research.
Then we moved on to interview leaders from all over the world who work in different DAOs. We talked with more than 20 founders, core members, contributors with long experience in the space, and mentors. All that information is currently being qualitatively analyzed by our team, and we will present the results at ETHDenver and in a future publication.
Expect early research results to be communicated in January 2023. A series of educational workshops, leadership coaching tools, and training seminars will be designed based on the findings of our research on Decentralized Leadership.
One of the main pain points that DAOs suffer is trying to get a smooth onboarding experience that allows them to get and retain new members. Our team is working on a multi-phase study that aims to know more about the different strategies that the DAO ecosystem has to onboard new people, so we can identify best practices and strategies that suit the different kinds of DAOs. During 2022 the team focused on a literature review to examine existing frameworks to evaluate onboarding experiences (or induction processes, as traditional organizations call them). After that, those frameworks were adapted to the requirements of DAOs and now are ready to be tested in 2023.
In the coming months, phase 1 will be launched with the recruitment of mystery shoppers that will join different DAOs to experience their onboarding process. We will then evaluate this through ethnographic observations and surveys made with the frameworks we discovered through the literature review. Review more of the project deliverables on the team’s Notion page.
This study is a collaboration with BanklessDAO where we made a survey asking questions about inclusivity and underrepresented groups, so we could know if members felt comfortable in their space. This is a qualitative confidential study and we managed to collect more than 150 surveys. Right now we are preparing to analyze these responses so we can share the results with the broader community. We are eager to discuss these results to keep debating about people feeling included in DAOs and how we can improve their experiences.
6) Discourse Knowledge Graph
So many DAO communities rely on Discourse to host their online forum discussions. These forum discussions are often focused on topics related to changes in the DAO’s protocol or improvements in governance. For a data scientist, the Discourse knowledge base is a treasure trove of data. So why not study it to understand the meta-science of DAO governance? This study seeks to do just that.
While the study is in its infancy it has quickly garnered interest within the talentDAO research community. Several data scientists have quickly volunteered to develop a proof of concept of a sensing tool that uses NLP to analyze topics.
Check out the research proposal cross-posted on the Smart Contract Research Forum to learn more about future directions: research forum post
For the DAO hackers out there the data notebook has been made public to explore the NLP models being used.
At talentDAO, we conducted a survey investigating the relationship between different compensation structures and contributors’ attitudes like motivation, satisfaction, commitment, and fairness perceptions. Using an experimental vignette study we wanted to understand if certain DAO compensation strategies resulted in more favorable perceptions of organizational justice. The four incentive strategies studied were bounties, Coordinape, hourly payment, and salary. Not surprisingly, salary was viewed as the fairest payment method. Study participants vocalized pay stability as an important factor when determining if they perceived a work environment as fair. Very interestingly, as the DAO community size grew bounty systems were progressively viewed as less favorable. We believe these findings will help inform future DAO compensation design in the tooling space.
This project was a joint effort with BanklessDAO where we collected 166 respondents. Read more about the full study here: DAO Compensation study
In 2023 the team aims to do more analysis of this data and then present a written document to share with the community. We also plan to have several open working sessions and webinars related to DAO compensation.
8) DAO Structure & Design study
The core objective of the DAO Structure & Design project is to create a well-researched body of knowledge about DAO structures and design. It is not an audit project about what exists, but more about how effective and impactful DAO structures should look like. This body of knowledge will be published so the broader community can discuss the results and make use of these insights.
Right now the team is finishing the literature review so they can move on to do structure analysis and interviews with DAO cartographers (those who map the organizational chart of the DAO) in Q1 2023. After that, the project will move on to Stage 2 to do in-depth interviews with builders, community managers, and experts in the DAO ecosystem to ask about organizational structures in web3 and to see what works and what doesn’t from their perspective.
Check out the team project page to learn more.
Interested in any of our research projects?
We are excited to talk with people who can offer fresh perspectives on DAO research. If you want to know more about our work or if you have experience with any of these studies you should come and connect with us. Join our Discord or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org about how to contribute to our research.
Elsewhere in Web3
One of the most in-depth primers that we’ve come across about decentralized identity. Beautifully showcasing how much both concepts and technologies have evolved in recent months. A must-read.
Why we build networks that hurt our performance, and what we can do about it / Gianluca Carnabuci et al.
A short article summarizing a soon-to-be-published paper. A thought-provoking network analysis revealed that top performers built collaboration networks that complement their cognitive style, while most employees built networks that match their own cognitive style.
Long-time readers of this newsletter know that we are particularly excited by the emerging uses of web3 for solving challenging problems around identity management. If you haven’t been tracking this topic, or could use a refresher on why this matters, this to-the-point primer by Nancy Rubel is the perfect resource for you. Another interesting venue in which the Discord Knowledge Graph project (see our feature article) may come in handy.
A well-curated collection of case studies of DAO governance experiments covering experiments conducted by optimism, element, Lido, ENS and Nouns. Pair wells with Samantha Marin’s Undesigning a DAO covering in-depth another governance experiment conducted in Aragon.
David Spinks’ piece draws a powerful analogy between the product-market fit concept that’s critical to startup success, and the community-member fit concept that’s critical to DAO success. The article offers a more refined definition of the concept, several ways to concretely measure it, and guidance on how to use it to evolve a DAO’s strategy.
Deep musing on the future direction of DAOs by the team behind Avenue. It starts off highlighting the limitations that Discord creates and the type of collaborations that DAOs were meant to unlock, and proceeds to paint the picture of “network DAOs” - a way to collaborate that’s truly boundariless.
Like what you’re reading? Consider supporting our efforts at talentDAO by becoming a paid subscriber.