A well known cliche is that committees are the worst way to get something done - “none of us is as bad as all of us” - but that is effectively how we and many other DAOs are attempting to operate. A review of recent threads demonstrates this; while some things end up making good progress, this is usually because one person or a small group “take charge” and go do the work independently, bringing it back for discussion and approval. Other ideas stall because nobody feels they have the authority to lead, and so while many good ideas are offered, none are executed on.
It seems plain that a better solution is needed, and so I would like to propose a significant change in how ENS DAO operations are structured. Rather than letting “the DAO” or even indivdual working groups do the work directly, we should focus on building a clear process for outsourcing work to community members or external contributors via a Request For Proposal (RFP) process.
Here is how it would work at a high level:
- Someone identifies a need, and proposes an RFP (yes, a request-for-proposal-proposal). At a minimum the RFP needs to specify:
- the work to be done
- the maximum compensation
- criteria for acceptance
- a working group to administer the proposal
- If the consensus is that this is a real need, the working group stewards agree to adopt the proposal. They can either agree to finance it from WG budget, or sponsor it for a DAO-wide social vote if it is too large to pay from the WG budget.
- If the RFP requires an onchain vote, it is put forward as an Executable proposal, approving the WG to spend up to the maximum amount of the DAO’s funds specified in the proposal.
- Once the RFP is ratified, the WG opens it for proposals. During this period anyone can submit a proposal to do the work.
- Once the RFP period is over, the WG stewards select a winner, and that party then starts work. The WG stewards are responsible for evaluating progress and disbursing funds as described in the RFP and the winning proposal.
In some cases, it’s possible that the person putting forward the RFP will also submit a proposal of their own; for example, when Element Finance proposed a strategy for managing some of the DAO’s funds, they could have formulated this as an RFP, and when approved, but forward their own bid on it.
At the small scale, this process can be very lightweight, but it scales up to even very large projects. Here are some examples:
Someone identifies that our DAO documentation needs updating; we need more clarity around the proposal and voting process, templates for EPs and RFPs, and flow diagrams that visualise the progress. They put forward a short RFP describing the problem, a suggested maximum compensation of 2 ETH, and suggest the Meta-Governance WG adopt it.
The Meta-Gov WG adopts it at their next meeting, agreeing to pay it out of the WG budget, and several people submit proposals - each just a couple of paragraphs long. The WG selects one as a winner based on price and track record, and the person begins work. A week later they submit a PR with the changes, and the WG pays them in full.
ENS needs someone to run a swag store, including design of the merchandise, fulfillment and shipping, promotion etc. Someone writes up an RFP and the Community WG agrees to adopt it. Because the store will pay for itself out of sales, no funding is necessary, but the proposer and the WG agree on a maximum margin of 25% for the operator.
Several operators bid on the RFP, and the WG selects their preferred one. They begin operating with the official approval of the DAO, and send royalties back to the DAO wallet on a regular basis.
The DAO identifies the need for a fund manager to administer the DAO’s endowment fund. Someone writes up an RFP, specifying desired goals, amounts, risk tolerance etc, as well as maximum compensation for the fund manager. Because this affects the whole DAO, but does not require upfront funding, the Meta-Governance WG puts it to a DAO-wide social vote. The RFP is approved in a Snapshot vote.
Several managers put forward proposals, and the Meta-Governance WG selects the most attractive offer. Because the fund manager will require some level of access to funds, a second, executable vote is put to the DAO to approve access to those funds to the fund manager.