[READY TO VOTE] Interactive Educational Program for Delegates and Governance Contributors

Delegate Mission Request Summary: Design and run a community educational program that focuses on team empowerment and fosters a collaborative environment for delegates and governance contributors.

S5 Intent: Intent 4, Governance Accessibility

Proposing Delegate: @kaereste

Proposal Tier: Ember and above

Baseline grant amount: 12,000 OP

Should this Mission be fulfilled by one or multiple applicants: One

Submit by: To be set by Grants Council

Selection by: To be set by Grants Council

Start date: As soon as a mission proposal has been approved.

Completion date: December 2024

Specification

Making governance more accessible has to do with removing barriers. Given the nature of the DAO, delegates, and contributors come from all walks of life and around the world.

With that in mind, a great deal of communication and coordination problems do not stem from the structure of the collective and the DAO itself but are rather problems that arise from the interactions among its participants. Having multiple unique perspectives interact can be both a blessing and a curse.

An educational program that addresses these issues at the base layer (the individual) instead of trying to address them on an organizational level (the structure of the DAO) can significantly improve cooperation and coordination and therefore enable greater efficiency in governance.

Let’s look at some of the problems delegates and governance contributors face while participating in the collective:

Problems

  1. Remote working environment

The DAO doesn’t have an HQ or a physical space where contributors gather. It doesn’t allow for water-cooler conversations and everyday socializing among the people who participate in it. As it’s often noticed in fully-remote companies, cultivating a sense of teamwork is a difficult task without explicitly trying to do so.

  1. Lack of strong personal connections

Since we’re talking about a remote working environment, relationships between DAO participants are mostly digital (save for a few times per year when people see each other at conferences) and therefore usually brittle. Strong interpersonal relationships are the foundation of effective cooperation and coordination. If we want to achieve decentralization on the social layer, we’ll have to build interpersonal connections, otherwise, we’ll be talking about a bunch of siloed participants only making decisions when it’s for their own best interest.

  1. Governance Apathy

People not actively participating in governance isn’t unheard of in DAOs. A common approach to solving the issue of governance apathy is through financial incentives. While money can be a good motivator in the short term, it loses its effectiveness over the long run just like a salary at a job. A more sustainable motivator is cultivating an environment in which participants not only enjoy being in but genuinely want to be.

  1. Asymmetry of information and power among delegates

Access to different amounts of information, different contexts, and different amounts of influence (e.g. voting power) can hinder the ability of individuals to see eye-to-eye. While a plurality of opinions is certainly something important and something we want to maintain, we also want to enable participants in the collective to get in each other’s shoes and view things from a different perspective.

  1. Tragedy of the Commons

“The theory of the tragedy of the commons refers to a situation in which individuals with access to a public resource (also called a common) act in their interest and, in doing so, ultimately deplete the resource.

This theory explains individuals’ tendency to make decisions based on their personal needs, regardless of the negative impact it may have on others. In some cases, an individual’s belief that others won’t act in the best interest of the group can lead them to justify selfish behavior. Potential overuse of a common-pool resource—a hybrid between a public and private good— can also influence individuals to act with their short-term interest in mind, resulting in the use of an unsustainable product and disregarding the harm it could cause to the environment or the general public.”

TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS: WHAT IT IS AND 5 EXAMPLES. Harvard BSC

It’s easy to understand the DAO’s treasury is a public resource that we collectively manage and for which we have to be responsible both as a group and also as individuals.

Unless we foster a culture of voluntary cooperation, we can easily fall victim to the tragedy of the commons, and find ourselves in constant need of ‘policing’ each other.

Why and How an Educational Program Helps

To better understand how an educational program can help with the issues mentioned above, we should first look into the concept of the ‘social brain’. The ‘social brain’ is the network of brain regions that are involved in understanding other people or social situations and interactions.

The improvement of the social brain is of paramount importance in remote working because it directly impacts communication, collaboration, and coordination in environments where physical cues and spontaneous interactions are limited. Enhanced social brain capabilities enable individuals to better interpret and respond to non-verbal cues, tone of voice, and emotional states through digital mediums, which is essential for maintaining empathy and understanding

Educational programs that incorporate collaborative learning and social interaction exercises can significantly contribute to the development of the social brain by enhancing participants’ abilities to understand others’ perspectives, emotions, and intentions. A well-developed social brain facilitates more effective conflict resolution, decision-making, and creative problem-solving by allowing participants to appreciate diverse perspectives and work together more harmoniously.

Some of the things that such a program will help achieve and/or include are:

Increase of empathy
By engaging participants in activities that require them to step into others’ shoes, understand different perspectives, and experience situations from viewpoints other than their own, we can increase empathy among participants. Empathy is important in remote working environments because it enhances understanding and collaboration among people who are separated by physical distance.

Experiential Exercises
Targeted exercises through interactive experiences with predetermined underlying goals will enable participants to focus on the topics being discussed, while at the same time stimulating the neural networks responsible for processing social information and navigating complex social landscapes. The goal is to abstract the ‘exercise’ part so participants can simply discuss matters relevant to Optimism and its governance.

Different Levels of Involvement
Everyone has different levels of social comfort. Some people are okay with being on camera or using their microphone to participate, and others prefer listening in or simply using the chat to express their thoughts. While one of the goals of such a program is to help individuals reach higher levels of social comfort, participants don’t need to get there on day one – they can be as involved as they feel comfortable being.

Community Hub
While not necessarily the focal point of the educational program, the virtual sessions of the program will serve as a community hub. During the sessions, participants will have an opportunity to discuss DAO matters, brainstorm, and organize initiatives, while at the same time developing soft skills and interpersonal relationships, and fostering a culture of collaboration and communication.

The concept of the social brain, the impact of educational programs on its development, and the enhancement of empathy through experiential exercises are grounded in scientific research and are not speculative ideas. These topics have been extensively studied within the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and educational science, with numerous studies published. A simple Google search on any of the topics can attest to that fact.

Please explain alignment with the relevant Intent

An educational program based on social pedagogy and neuroscience can help alleviate some of the aforementioned problems through the cultivation of interpersonal relationships among stakeholders and individuals’ social & emotional skills.

Reducing the barriers to communication and cooperation will make governance more accessible.

What is required to execute this Delegate Mission Request?

Applicants for this mission request should be able to:

  1. Source willing participants from Optimism’s governance sphere.
  2. Do research and host feedback sessions to acquire all relevant information to properly structure a program that is specific to the problems delegates and governance contributors face in the context of the DAO.
  3. Use the acquired information as well as their academic background to design an interactive and comprehensive educational program.
  4. Organise and host recurring virtual seminars/sessions with program participants.
  5. Collect input from participants regarding expected results
  6. Adjust and iterate the program based on the needs of the participants and their expected results.
  7. Draft and publish a report with the results of the program.

How should the Token House measure progress towards this Mission?

  • Publication of the structure of the program before starting the virtual sessions.
  • Average number of participants per session.
  • Total unique number of participants in the program.
  • Total number of sessions held.
  • Publication of a report with the results/insights of the program at the end of the mission.
  • Number of initiatives started through the program.

How should badgeholders measure impact upon completion of this Mission?

Given the scope of the RFP, it’s difficult to set quantitative measures that measure the direct impact the mission that completes this RFP will have. However, some indicative measures are:

  • Increased participation in community matters (e.g. community calls, forums)
  • Increased participation in voting
  • More constructive feedback on proposals in the forums
  • More proactive initiatives by delegates
  • Narrower deviation in voting

Have you engaged a Grant-as-a-service provider for this Mission Request?

No

Has anyone other than the Proposing Delegate contributed to this Mission Request?

This mission request was drafted by Sinkas and was simply sponsored by [Delegate].

Application Instructions:

To be defined by the Grants Council in accordance with their internal operating procedures.

Some suggested things to be taken into account by the Grants Council while creating application instructions are:

  • Background in social pedagogy, neuroscience, sociology, and/or psychology.
  • Familiarity of the applicant with the Optimism Collective and its participants
  • Previous professional experience designing and running similar programs in a web3 or web2 setting.
11 Likes

Hi! Maxwell here, I support governance onboarding at the Foundation, and these views are my own.

As someone who’s spent time in the fields of education and neuroscience, this is a super fun proposal! The key problems that delegates and gov contributors are facing is very well put.

In terms of solutions to these problems, I have unfortunately seen well-intentioned programs like this fail in the past since they often fail to integrate sustainably into people’s busy lives and can occasionally be over structured to a fault.

Culture building is really an art, and I wonder if something akin to a book club or “lunch and learn” sessions might be an alternative worth exploring? These sorts of things usually have way less overhead, are operationally easier, and can sometimes just as effectively meet the same ends (i.e., increased participation in governance).

They can also act a good starting point for new comers to join, since each session (held maybe weekly or bi-weekly) is usually stand alone.

An example session could include reading and discussing the essay you reference, the Tragedy of the Commons by Garrett Hardin https://www.garretthardinsociety.org/articles_pdf/tragedy_of_the_commons.pdf, and / or similar works!

Would welcome any dialogue here. Overall - its amazing to see these core problems laid out in such an articulate way. More intentional culture builder / lifelong learning support is much needed!

6 Likes

I am an Optimism delegate with sufficient voting power and I believe this proposal is ready to move to a vote.

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While I love the problem set, the actual solution for these types of issues is pretty abstract and also requires buy in from current delegates. Having experienced the tragedy of the commons first hand, I would love to see these issues resolved. However I don’t see these types of programs having the intended impact.

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As the author of the RFP, the comments by @maxwell and @katie are a great opportunity to clarify that the scope RFP is intentionally a bit vague and abstract regarding how an educational program could tackle the problems faced in governance.

The reason for this is that, as I understood it, RFPs are meant to identify problems and request proposals on how to address them, while at the same time, they might or might not suggest potential avenues (e.g. specifically requesting an educational program, vs stating the problems and asking any sort of solution) for proposers to follow.

The sort of program I had in mind when drafting this RFP (and with which I plan on applying if the RFP is approved) includes experiential learning through social activities, which as @maxwell suggested could be as simple as a “lunch and learn”, given there are specific goals set. These types of exercises put little strain on participants as they only require them to allocate time during the session (which can be as little as 2-3 hours per week).

Katie, I can understand your skepticism regarding the impact of such programs, and I agree with you to the extent that they might not have the intended impact in some settings. However, what I would see as the bigger issue here would be getting delegates to participate, rather than the effectiveness these kinds of programs have. After all, the brain’s neuroplasticity is scientifically proven, and the development of soft skills plays an important role in personal and professional prosperity and development, especially for people working in a remote setting.

4 Likes

Hey Sinkas, thanks for the response. I understand and appreciate what you are trying to do but this is another proposal that requires buy in from delegates that are already overloaded, and the impact of these types of programs is very difficult to measure. I won’t be giving this one my approval but I’m wishing you the best!

2 Likes

I understand your concerns and, as I already mentioned, share them to an extent. I appreciate you taking the time to review the RFP regardless. Should the RFP happen to make it through the governance process, I hope you’ll be able to participate :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Hey @kaereste & @Sinkas!
I really like this mission, and I’m open to approving it because I believe it can integrate the community better within Optimism Gov. However, I have a couple of comments. First, did you select that Tier and completion day for a specific reason? I think having a lower tier could help open up opportunities for more teams. Additionally, I would prefer to see a longer duration for this program so that it doesn’t require participants to invest too much time each month.

2 Likes

Yeah I’m with Katie on this - as much as the problem set is a valid one to tackle (and indeed that’s a big part of the intent), the prescribed output here lacks the kind of fully fleshed out or supported theory of change for me to overcome my skepticism that something of this nature would be adequately engaged in or effective.

4 Likes

We appreciate the education and real world focus of this mission.

We agree with a certain level of abstractness upon building a campaign to grow an educational community, and agree with the emphasis on delegate participation, especially for real world occasions with delegates of all sizes. Fostering something like this would be impactful.

However I agree it could be more clear specifically what this mission would execute, with clear deliverables.

We’ll vote to approve this in the hopes more clarity and structure will come through coordination. This is a mission AB could help contribute towards.

Approval - I am an Optimism delegate 1 with sufficient voting power and I believe this proposal is ready to move to a vote.

I think the idea would be to approve for a vote once a mission proposal is ready for one, no?

Hey Bricia, thanks for taking the time to review the RFP and share your feedback. To answer your questions:

a) The tier was selected on the assumption that applicants who wish to execute on this RFP should have some level of context on both the problems in Optimism’s governance (although they’re arguably somewhat laid out for them in the RFP itself), but also on delegates and governance contributors. Having done work for the collective before would filter out people who lack that context. I do however see the value in having the RFP open to more teams and I’m happy to change it if you or other delegates think it would help attract more contributors.
b) I agree that ideally a program like the one requested through the RFP should be spread over a longer period of time to avoid burdening the very same people it’s supposed to help (as Katie also pointed out). My understanding is that similar to Season 4, RFPs and subsequent proposals must be executed within the duration of Season 5. If that’s not the case, I’d gladly expand the timeline to the year’s end.

Happy to discuss your feedback more!

Thanks for taking the time to review and provide your feedback Jack. I understand your skepticism just as I did Katie’s and I’m not going to attempt to change your view simply because I believe the effects of such a program are subjective for each person - kind of like going to therapy. While we can sit and discuss the theory of an educational program (or of therapy for that fact), the impact it has on everyone is different, ranging from non-existent to profound.

On a completely off-topic sidenote: when can I get you on Delegate Corner?

As I mentioned in my response to Maxwell and Katie above, there’s a level of abstractness in the RFP because it’s supposed to be up to the applicants to provide specific deliverables within their application to execute their RFP. I’m completely open to outlining more specific deliverables if you feel that’s an issue, but that might limit the number of applications the RFP could potentially have. (Which by the way contradicts part of the feedback provided by Bricia about opening up opportunities to more teams). I’d love to chat with you further if you’re up for it. Feel free to DM me here, or reach out on Telgram (Sinkas5) or Twitter (Sinkas_).

Regarding the time frame for this Season, the feedback from S4 has been heard, and this is the current time frame:

So, feel free to make changes. Additionally, I believe @joanbp would find this proposal interesting :sparkling_heart:

1 Like

this is a good analogy but not in the way you anticipate

there are good modalities of psychotherapy with underlying philosophies or years of accumulated evidential support

and there’s quackery, stuff that people try without any framework in the hope that “maybe something will work”

what i’m saying is: these mission requests, if they’re requesting a specific thing to be built are delivered, have to explain why the thing to be built is going to work – or show examples of how it has worked in the past. this proposal does neither; it just says “well an educational program based on social pedagogy…” should work – but why? is education really the thing people are lacking?

Appreciate the invitation. I enjoy the show but am camera shy, unfortunately.

Must have missed that information, thanks for surfacing it. I’ll amend the RFP’s timeline to be 1 year long to allow enough flexibility to spread sessions over a longer period of time to avoid overloading participants.

What do you think about the trust tier? Do you think it makes sense to keep it as is, or would you rather see it being open to ember tier as well?

Social pedagogy and neuroscience also have underlying philosophies, years of research and accumulated evidential support. It’s not a pseudoscience or some sort of feel-good practice. I can and will edit the proposal to expand a little bit more on the science behind why such programs work if you believe it’s needed context.

We can do audio-only as I recently did with another guest if that’s a concern. I know a lot of people, myself included, are really interesting in learning more about you and hearing more of your thoughts. No pressure though.

1 Like

I actually like this proposal a lot. I have long thought that the Optimism community needs some type of regular, community-centric, educational effort to get the community thinking and ideating on governance issues. I think this type of regular community engagement on governance problems is crucial to the Collective’s eventual self-sufficiency (once the Foundation passes us the reigns). This was something I really appreciated about Gitcoin, for example, with their (now discontinued) Public Library.

Now, that being said, I have some gripes with the details. Like @maxwell mentioned, community building is an art, and sometimes too much structure can kill it. Someone can do all of the research and have the most credentials in community building/educational training, and still not create something that “sticks.” What I would like to see is a large reduction of the grant (down to 3-5k), loosen up some of the requirements, and allow the RetroPGF mechanism to determine if the community building effort was really successful or not. Essentially, this mission should request and incentivize an MVP of this type of intentional, learning community, and if it really catches on, then RPGF will reward it.

I would also like to see some minimums at least for the sessions within the requirements. Like a minimum attendance (or maybe average attendance) and a minimum number of sessions.

I am an Optimism delegate with sufficient voting power and I believe this proposal is ready to move to a vote.

Thank you for taking the time to review the RFP and drop your feedback Chase. I do agree that community building is an art and although that’s not really the scope of the RFP, the two have significant overlays.
I’m open to reducing the baseline grant amount and letting RPGF determine the impact of the sessions on funding, even though I want to take a less aggressive approach.

Based on the feedback I’ve received so far, I’ve made the following changes in the RFP:

  1. Changed the Trust tier from Fledgling to Ember. cc @brichis
    The initial assumption was that an applicant from a higher trust tier would have more context on delegates and other governance participants and their needs. However, opening the RFP up to applications from the Ember tier invites more applications from people who might be just as capable and knowledgeable, but who haven’t had the chance to contribute to the collective yet.

  2. Extended the completion deadline. cc @brichis & @katie
    Now knowing that the completion of the mission can go beyond the timeline of Season 5, the new proposed deadline is December 2024. The extended timeline will allow the whole program to be spread over several months to make it less demanding of delegate’s time during the week (more weeks = fewer hours needed per any single week).

  3. Added additional context on how/why such educational programs works. cc @jackanorak & @katie
    After reading Jack’s comment and rereading the mission request, it became apparent that I didn’t really touch on how such an educational program works, or why it can help alleviate some of the issues DAO participants face. I’ve added some extra information and context to address that part. Please refer to “Specifications” section, under the “Why and How an Educational Program Helps” header.

  4. Added more ways to measure progress and impact. cc @AdvantageBlockchain
    I believe that deliverables shouldn’t be too specific to avoid limiting potential applicants and their approach. However, I added some additional ways token house and badgeholders can measure the progress towards the mission and the impact upon its completion respectively.

  5. Reduced the baseline grant amount by 40%. cc @chaselb
    While the baseline grant amount can fund the work itself (designing the program, hosting the sessions, delivering a report, and all accompanying materials), the impact that the program had should be assessed after the fact and compensated accordingly (or not) through RPGF. Therefore, the baseline grant amount has been reduced from 20,000 OP to 12,000 OP.

  6. The mission should be fulfilled by one participant.
    Initially, the plan was to have this mission be fulfilled by one applicant. After some preliminary feedback before posting the RFP, I altered it to be “up to 2” to open it up to more opportunities. However, with more recent feedback from multiple different parties, I’ve decided to reduce it back to a single applicant to avoid fragmentation of the community and also be mindful of delegates’ time. While there can certainly be many different programs designed by different teams, we should only run 1 at a time.

I’m also cc’ing @Joxes and @Matt_StableLab so they can review the changes and decide if they want to revoke (or keep) their approval.

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I am an Optimism delegate with sufficient voting power and I believe this proposal is ready to move to a vote.

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I am an Optimism delegate [Blockchain@USC] with sufficient voting power and I believe this proposal is ready to move to a vote.

1 Like