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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Applicants for this mission request should be able to:
- Source willing participants from Optimism’s governance sphere.
- 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.
- Use the acquired information as well as their academic background to design an interactive and comprehensive educational program.
- Organise and host recurring virtual seminars/sessions with program participants.
- Collect input from participants regarding expected results
- Adjust and iterate the program based on the needs of the participants and their expected results.
- Draft and publish a report with the results of the program.
- 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.
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
This mission request was drafted by Sinkas and was simply sponsored by [Delegate].
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.