Coordinating Labor in DAOs: The DAO Talent Stack
DAOs demand degrees of coordination that makes an ant colonies look messy. In BanklessDAO, organizational frameworks are beginning to emerge. This post is a look into one such fundamental framework.
The DAO Talent Stack is a framework that models how members of a DAO might coordinate activity.
The stack consists of the
Governance layer = DAO members
Orchestration layer = community leaders
Resource Layer = skilled laborers
DAO members ideate and vote on initiatives they would like to see. They then work with community leaders to find the skilled laborers needed to execute.
In March 2020, when COVID-19 began to make its way through news cycles, it became apparent that working in an office was quickly being considered a public safety hazard. In a span of just two weeks, organizations that relied on meatspace were thrown unrehearsed into the digital realm. Zoom, Slack, Google Drive, and dozens of other workspace apps formed the rails by which the corporate engines now ran. This process was painful and riddled with technical difficulties, miscommunication, and wasted time.
Through trial and error, digitized workspaces eventually grew to be somewhat comfortable. In fact, these new arrangements became the more efficient work method and forced many of us to prefer organizing in digital spaces. This article provides a decentralized coordination framework for coordinating activity and labor in these spaces.
What is a DAO?
DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) are organizations that exist solely on the Internet. They are complex bundles of software that coordinate digital-natives. Ethnicity, age, weight, disability, location, and any other arbitrary demographic that stunts in-person coordination are irrelevant. The Internet is the Great Equalizer.
DAOs are a popular philosophical construct because of their decentralized governance model. In other words, DAOs are empowering because critical decision making is a collective task rather than a task delegated to a few executives and board members.
BanklessDAO is one such digital organization. Just a fortnight old, it has over 3,500 members in a single Discord across all time zones. People are reduced to pictures and text on a screen. Yet, despite having what may look like a handicap, BanklessDAO is thriving. So how are we doing this? How are we able to contain and direct the frenetic energy stretching across a massive global community and productively scale?
The DAO Talent Stack
When scaling organizations, the hardest nut to crack is talent acquisition. If you’ve ever applied for a “techy” job then you may know that evaluating a single candidate can be a grueling process for both parties. Companies need to scale fast and cannot afford to hire the wrong people so both sides undergo a demanding ritual to establish a baseline of trust.
DAOs are similarly in the business of sourcing talent. However instead of the knife-like precision that startups employ, DAOs crowdsource talent. The talent, quite literally, comes to us in droves. When they arrive, people self-organize into niches based on what excites them and autonomously begin to explore those ideas collectively.
All of this talent is potential energy waiting to be harnessed. This brings me to the Talent Stack - a loose mental model for thinking about how members of the BanklessDAO interact with one another. Many of the details are still unrefined as this is just the direction the BanklessDAO organically seems to be heading.
The Governance Layer
The governance layer is made up of people like Sahej. Sahej is a crypto enthusiast. He has been awakened to Ethereum and the Bankless movement but has other responsibilities. He is not fully bankless and he’s definitely not a DeFi degen. The top layer of the DAO Talent Stack is made up of people just like Sahej: A voting member of BanklessDAO with some spare time.
The self-identified responsibility of the governance layer is to onboard one billion Bankless. This layer decides what actions the DAO must take to execute the Bankless vision. Members of the governance layer can act on these responsibilities in different capacities. Some may contribute purely through snapshot votes while others may spearhead projects they feel strongly about.
The Resource Layer
The bottom layer is what I call the resource layer, named as such because it is the pool of skilled labor resources that anyone can tap into. Members of the resource layer are the specialists: writers, creators, translators, developers, designers, and dozens of other groups of talented individuals that make their services known to the broader DAO ecosystem. (Internally, these groups are known as Guilds.)
Margaret is a member of this layer. She’s skilled in producing podcasts - recording, editing, sound design, production, distribution, etc. Right now, Margaret loves her job and wants nothing more than to dollar-cost average into Ethereum, contribute talent to the DAO, and retire early 🏖️
The Orchestration Layer
The orchestration layer is the interface that connects the resource and governance layers, and translates the DAOs vision into action. Orchestrators are community leaders that have been elected to facilitate activity within the DAO. This can be something simple like helping new users feel their way around the DAO to something more complex, like coordinating the move from main-chain Ethereum to xDai.
Jared is a member of this layer. He is a trusted community member that has been bestowed responsibilities by the DAO, often requiring a full time commitment. His skillset is in working with governance layer members and turning ideas into action.
Together, the Talent Stack creates a labor market that matches suppliers (resource layer) to demand (governance layer) through a group of community coordinators (orchestration layer). Commerce flows within these layers using $BANK or other digital monies. Let’s imagine how the Talent Stack could possibly work in action.
Case Study: DeFi Trading Podcast
At the latest BanklessDAO NYC meetup, Sahej made some new friends. They primarily chatted on and off about different DeFi trading strategies. It took some time for Sahej to catch up to the conversation, but within a couple of months he was putting small amounts of money in Alchemix, Aave, and other DeFi protocols. Having recently been a noob, Sahej wanted to pass on what he had learned in just a few short months to others starting their Bankless journeys. After gathering some initial feedback in the forums and Discord channels, Sahej settled on creating a new trading podcast for the Bankless ecosystem.
To scope out the work, Sahej reaches out to Jared, an elected project manager operating in the orchestration layer. Part of Jared’s responsibilities is helping DAO members like Sahej get their ideas in front of the right people. Jared provides Sahej with the right templates and connects him with relevant guild coordinators. Eventually, with Jared’s help, Sahej pens a formal proposal and makes his pitch to the DAO, illustrating how little content there is by way of trading strategies for noobies like himself. With a modest production budget, Sahej’s podcast passes a snapshot vote.
Having been approved by the DAO, Sahej now starts hunting for talent on a bounty board and meets Margaret. Sahej knows how to find guests and have engaging conversations while Margaret is an expert in producing podcasts. Together, they are able to turn Sahej’s idea into a fully-formed content stream that plugs into the larger Bankless media network. Mission Success!
Note: Bounty boards are public spaces for specialists to earn money for directed tasks - in this case helping to produce a podcast. In fact, I used this exact model to find an editor for this blog post!
At this point, the DAO Talent Stack is nothing more than a mental model. It’s not implemented in any official capacity and certainly doesn’t have any elected members. This article is just a shell for what DAO labor coordination may look like, it needs to be filled in with details. In time, I suspect BanklessDAO and others will adopt something like the Talent Stack. 🍻