[SCP-TBD] Definition of Workstream Leader

Summary

This proposal clearly defines a Workstream Leader.

Abstract

This proposal explicitly defines the roles, responsibilities, and authority of a Workstream Leader, as it relates to

  • A workstream requiring a single leader
  • The authority to hire and fire within a workstream
  • Discretion over the allocation of a budget approved by governance

Should this proposal pass, it will take immediate effect and apply to all workstreams with a single leader.

Current workstreams with multiple leaders are encouraged to expediently elect a single leader and adopt this definition via a separate proposal specific to their workstream.

Future proposals that create, renew, or amend workstreams are strongly encouraged to adopt this definition.

Motivation

There is not an explicit definition of a Workstream Leader as approved by governance.

This proposal seeks to formalize an agreed upon definition of a Workstream Leader, including roles, responsibilities, and authority.

Resourcing and budget are intrinsically linked. A Workstream Leader cannot control one without the other.

A single Workstream Leader is proposed as a clear, effective, and familiar way to mitigate complexities that can arise with multiple Workstream Leaders related to responsibility, accountability, and conflict resolution.

Specification

Single Workstream Leader

A workstream shall have a single Workstream Leader.

The Workstream Leader shall be responsible for the direction, resourcing, budget, performance, deliverables, communication, and representation of the workstream.

The Workstream Leader may only be changed via governance. In the event of a sudden or emergency departure of a Workstream Leader, a Workstream Leader may appoint an Interim Workstream Leader by a forum post, which shall immediately follow the standard governance process.

Resourcing

The Workstream Leader shall be delegated the authority by governance to make decisions pertaining to resourcing, that is, how the funds allocated to the workstream are used to provide the services and meet proposed goals, including hiring and firing of workstream contributors.

Budget

A budget is an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.

The Workstream Leader shall be delegated the authority by governance to have full discretion over how an approved budget is spent.

The Workstream Leader shall not be able to spend more than the approved budget by a proposal, without a proposal to amend said proposal.

Workstream proposals must include timephased budget estimates broken down by each month of their proposed cycle (e.g. $15,000 July, $10,000 August, etc.).

The Workstream Leader shall be responsible for coordinating with DAO treasury multi-sig signers to ensure sufficient funds are made available in Colony to ensure expenses can be paid monthly or on-demand.

Benefits

An explicitly defined and shared understanding of how workstreams and their leaders operate will remove the ambiguity that currently exists within the DAO.

Without a defined and granted delegated authority - a Workstream Leader is unable to lead. The leader role becomes that of a secretary, coordinator or spokesperson.

Drawbacks

There could exist a perceived centralization risk that arises from delegating authority to Workstream Leaders.

This is mitigated by the following

  • Delegated authority is well defined and scoped to an individual workstream.
  • A Workstream Leader can be removed via a governance proposal at any time.
  • A Workstream Leader’s term is always limited and thus up for renewal and potential replacement at the end of any given term.

Vote

  • FOR - Adopt the proposed definition of a Workstream Leader.
  • AGAINST - Do nothing.

0 voters

9 Likes

In my mind whenever I have personally voted forward a ws leader this is the definition I was already implicitly assuming.

It doesn’t make sense to me to delegate authority to a ws leader and not delegate them authority over their own budget, otherwise we are not empowering ws leaders to be effective on behalf of the DAO in my opinion.

So with that I support moving this proposal through governance and making this definition explicitly approved by the community.

8 Likes

Could those who have voted no please explain why you voted in that way?

I am in the same understanding as JonIsJon that WS leaders would have autonomy over the budgets/personnel choices.

8 Likes

Thanks for putting this out there @0xdef1cafe.

This has always been my understanding of the workstream leader’s role as well.

5 Likes

This was set up initally as the workstream setup. Maybe it wasnt included somewhere overall? The only change is, ther was a clause for removing someone (in any position) that was not doing things, and/or malicious intent. just want to make sure theres something for that. ‘locking in someone’ that is detrimental would be bad i think? also, if something happens, and person decides to exit, would this mean they cannot?

5 Likes

The Workstream Leader role as defined here is pretty much what I had thought it already was, based on the DAO’s foundational documentation–which granted, isn’t formal governance like a “constitution.” In lieu of that, it’s understandable how some Foxes had a different interpretation. I’m in favor of codifying/formalizing these understandings, assuming there’s sufficient community support.

5 Likes

I am concerned that this places too much authority and responsibility in the hands of one individual. Additionally, this proposal is not clear about how “budget” is defined.

When writing up my family budget, there are categories and line items for how money is to be spent and my wife and I agree upon those numbers. After that agreement, neither of us can unilaterally re-allocate money from one category to another. If that was the case, there could be no guarantee that there was enough money for the mortgage payment if it was used for a different purpose.

I think that the DAO is within it’s rights to approve a budget proposal that contains specific constraints on how funds are to be used. If such a budget is passed, I would see it as a violation of that budget to allocate the funds contrary to what was approved.

Regarding “core contributors” in a budget… when I was a contractor, I signed contracts with companies that outlined the expectations from both sides. While either side could break the contract, there were clauses in the contract and outlines consequences for breach. Additionally, there were clauses that outlined an arbitration process in the case of a dispute.

If the DAO is to acquire and hold onto good talent, I think that it would be within our best interest to have a specific written policy that we can point people to that outlines how we handle performance disputes and the terms of severing our contract/arrangement.

Without some assurances, it’s my belief that it will be difficult to retain top talent who seek more stability.

6 Likes

i believe this isnt about budget themselves. The budget is set to each Workstreams proposals pass/fail. If the WS proposal passes, that creates a new Workstream Leader assignment. So that then the above is then in place for overall code of conduct.

3 Likes

@giantkin This is the part I’m referring to. It’s not clear to me if the intention of the word “budget” is to mean only the final total monthly amount or if it means to include any constraints or restrictions noted in the full budget proposal (if any exist).

What I mean to say is that the DAO should be able to approve a budget with specific constraints, if it so chooses.

As far as discretion over the allocation of funds, I think that’s actually more appropriately spelled out in each budget proposal.

2 Likes

hm guess we both see it the same way, but with diff glasses. to me, its saying the Leader is delegated authory over their budget, as layed out in the appropriate Proposal. (and not over it)
i think you are saying the same thing?

2 Likes

@Major_Hayes thanks for the comments.

With respect to the definition of a budget, my understanding of how nearly all budgets work is they have an approved amount up front, which is an estimate, a forecast that’s updated in response to external factors, and a track of actual spend.

Budgets are itemized into specific categories - labor, non-recurring expenses, discretionary etc. Spend within a category should not exceed and approved amount without governance, but can deviate below.

I’m not aware of a case where an owner of a budget is unable to manage the spend within these categories, or is compelled to spend each line item as approved, regardless of external factors.

With respect to core contributors, we should endeavor to have fair arrangements without delving into detailed contracts. To use an employment analogy, an employee employed “at-will” has no protection to employment termination. Good talent in the US is almost ubiquitously under this same arrangement. Similarly, take Coinbase - 18% layoffs of employees with the same protections afforded as this proposal would.

If this places too much authority in the hands of an individual (as approved by governance), where does one draw the line? This proposal proposes a minimal, single layer of delegated authority, by governance, with the ability to manage a budget and resourcing.

1 Like

I plan to move this to ideation shortly.

One note before I move this to ideation - I will remove the following clause when this moves to ideation, to allow for more flexibility with the existing workstreams.

“Should this proposal pass, it will take immediate effect and apply to all workstreams with a single leader.”

1 Like

I have a few objections, both to the aim of the proposal and the specification proposed:

This isn’t in alignment with the plan of action that found wide support at the engineering workstream retreat – namely, that a default working configuration should be specified which is to be used in the absence of, but superseded by an individual workstream charter. This allows every workstream the option to define a set of terms that is appropriate for its configuration, while not requiring any workstream to do so explicitly in the event that the default is appropriate. I do not think that the specification outlined here is suitable for all workstream configurations, and there is no language in the proposal that allows this definition to be superseded by an individual workstream charter. In the context of the engineering workstream, for example, it is the majority opinion among the workstream participants that this proposal is entirely unsuitable. In contrast, I think that this proposal would be suitable for a workstream configuration wherein a leader hired and delegated work to an external agency as in the example given by Erik in his recent blog post.

To @Major_Hayes’ point – I agree that this places entirely too much authority and responsibility in the hands of the workstream leader. The intention here is to maximize value to the DAO, and doing so requires that the DAO’s best interests are prioritized. Those are likely not to be in alignment with the best interest of any particular workstream leader, and there are insufficient checks and balances to ensure that the DAO’s best interest is prioritized in all decisions in this model. While the risk of impropriety might be low given the current DAO roster, we have to build robust governance, and that means striving to put in place policy that would maintain the integrity of the DAO should it someday in the future be infiltrated by bad actors.

I have some issues with many of the points of view expressed in the specification section; I’ll address them in order:

Single Workstream Leader - I don’t see the motivation for this as part of the definition. The flexibility afforded to workstreams by having multiple leaders can be highly advantageous to productivity, and we should allow workstreams to arrange themselves to optimize productivity so long as it is capital-efficient to do so. This is evaluated by the community at the time each workstream proposal is put before governance.

Resourcing – A primary consideration of each workstream should be to maximize productivity – optimizing productivity on a team requires maintaining a careful balance between competence and culture. Happy teams are properly motivated, and motivated teams are productive. All other things being equal, individuals tend to be happier working on teams where they enjoy spending time with their coworkers. Properly assessing culture fit requires buy-in from the rest of the team. Centralized ShapeShift was very good about this as part of the hiring process, and for that reason in part, the quality of the working environment was extremely high. Delegating hiring responsibility and authority to any singular individual is highly unlikely to result in an optimal team configuration. If the intent is to optimize a working team configuration, the only sensible strategy is to evaluate candidates as a team. Likewise, when an individual needs to be fired, it has been my experience that the motivation for doing so is abundantly clear to the team. Requiring buy-in from the team should not slow down necessary firing decisions. Making these decisions democratically also avoids potential resourcing pitfalls common to centralized companies such as those where a middle manager takes personal issue with or has an incorrect perception about a particular employee. Finally, as @Major_Hayes said above, in order to attract and retain talent, it will be necessary for us to provide workstream contributors with some degree of security around their employment arrangement with the DAO. All other things being equal, why would any talented contributor with multiple career opportunities pursue an employment arrangement that could be terminated at the discretion of a single individual for any or no reason at all when other options are available? At the very least, some document approximating an employee handbook that outlines how performance disputes are handled and the terms under which an employment agreement can be severed should be provided. Finally, though it has been stated to be the case several times, I have yet to hear an argument as to why the ability to make unilateral resourcing decisions is necessary to perform the function of a workstream leader in all cases. It seems instead that this is more about wielding authority or establishing the perception of authority, and as far as I’m able to see, that carries a high risk for little reward given the inadequate system of checks and balances in this model.

Budget – Not to hold workstreams accountable for the details of budgetary agreements made with the DAO makes no sense to me whatsoever. I have always seen the budget approved for the workstreams as amendable contracts with the DAO, and never held the idea that the line items were fungible. If, as a workstream leader, I had a budget approved that allocated $50,000 monthly, $10,000 of which I took as salary and the remainder was to be issued as bounties, then decided after community approval that I would instead pay myself $40,000 monthly and use only the remaining $10,000 for bounty work, are you of the opinion that this is acceptable? You can make the argument that this would be discovered quickly, but there are many ways to hide how the funds are spent. I’m happy to be proven wrong here, but I would very much like to poll community sentiment on this hypothetical example.
Maintaining the requirements that workstream leaders are held accountable to budgetary agreements with the DAO and amendments must pass governance will require workstream leaders to spend more time carefully considering budgets up-front, which is exactly what we want. This does not have to be overly restrictive. To account for unanticipated expenditures of reasonable size, it has become a common practice for contingency funds to be added as a line item to each budget. Adopting a practice in the DAO where the approved budgets carry no meaning other than in sum total seems exceedingly foolish, and this would be the first place I’ve ever heard of such a policy in practice.

Benefits – I think there may be a fundamental difference in perception about the role and expectations of a workstream leader. I’ve always taken issue with the “leadership” designation because I don’t believe it to be quite accurate. I have always considered the role of a workstream “leader” to be exactly as mentioned above – a combination of secretary, coordinator, and spokesperson. As one of the KeepKey workstream leaders, this is what I consider my position to be. I and many others do not and should not look to the workstream “leader” for literal leadership and direction, and so I have always thought something like “coordinator” or “representative” to be a more appropriate designation. While singular leadership in the literal sense may be appropriate some workstreams, in others it makes no sense at all and is much more likely to be harmful than helpful in my opinion.

Drawbacks – I do agree; there is a strong perceived centralization risk that arises from delegating authority to workstream leaders. These concerns are not unfounded as this has indeed proven to be problematic in recent times as the perspective of what the role of a workstream leader is has drifted in the minds of some such that two distinct schools of thought on the matter have arisen. I do not think that external governance is a sufficient check to the unilateral authority that this proposal would grant to workstream leaders, and for one reason – context. As a contributor to the engineering workstream, I have no context at all about what is going on in the marketing or operations workstreams, for example. Unless a proposal to remove the leaders of either of those workstreams made a verifiable accusation of some egregious action, I would be unlikely to vote on the proposal because I would not feel sufficiently informed to give a meaningful opinion on the issue. This proposal is a great example of the problem I’m identifying here. Out of context, what has been written above sounds fairly reasonable, but the context of the dynamic on the engineering workstream gives color to this proposal that isn’t externally visible. While the specifications above might seem acceptable to community members without the relevant context, it is currently the majority opinion of the engineering workstream participants that this is a very bad idea.

7 Likes

I think the line “The Workstream Leader shall be delegated the authority by governance to have full discretion over how an approved budget is spent.” is extremely risky to a malicious actor.

If a budget is described in a proposal, with line items for spending, then allowing the individual leader to sidestep line items explicitly written in the proposal passed opens the DAO up to a lot of risk.

The idea that a malicious actor can simply be voted out by governance after malicious acts is extremely shortsighted.

First, a malicious actor must be noticed, then whomever notices must have motivation to bring it forth. Then they have to collect evidence, then they must then convince others in the community of the maliciousness. All the while the malicious actor can be defrauding the DAO and gathering up political support within the DAO to gain votes for their side.

As written, this proposal makes the entire workstream 1 individual and we just have to trust that individual to be honest and if he’s not, the slow process of governance and politics is the only way to remove them. That goes against the entire ethos of ShapeShift and crypto since I started.

“Don’t trust, verify”.

I would not vote for this proposal without stronger checks against the power of the leader.

6 Likes

Regarding the budget, I think the overall concern has to do with agreements approved by the DAO not being kept with the DAO. It would be within the right of a workstream to freely allocate expenses labeled ‘labor’ as the workstream saw fit, but if funds are allocated to a workstream by the DAO and it is stated in the budget that those funds are to be used for a specific purpose, then they should not be considered fungible, as the budget approval may have very well been contingent on the agreed-upon spend. A balance has to be struck between the workstream and the community where the budget is written with sufficient specificity to satisfy the DAO’s concerns about how funds will be spent but is not so specific that the workstream is hamstrung should previously-unanticipated external occurrences necessitate a change in the original spending plan.

It is news to no one that the engineering workstream had an exceedingly difficult time attracting talent despite offering reasonably competitive compensation offers, even when the market conditions were favorable. In states with “at-will” employment legislation, it is highly unusual for any even slightly serious organization not to have an employee handbook or well-defined termination policy. Even contract employment offers usually stipulate on what grounds the agreement may be severed. “At will” employment legislation limits the legal recourse that employees have upon being terminated. It is not the same to say that employees in these states expect that their employment opportunities might be terminated without cause, at any time, at the whim of a single unaccountable individual. Many tenured contributors at the DAO are highly uncomfortable with this, it is only reasonable to expect that potential new contributors would be similarly bothered by this arrangement if not more so.

I’ve addressed the third of your points in my post above, and @theoboldfrazier does a great job of explaining why placing this much authority in the hands of any one individual is highly problematic.

4 Likes

As a member of the engineering workstream I would vote no for this proposal for many of the same concerns expressed by @Major_Hayes, @mcchadwick and @theoboldfrazier.

I dont understand why it is necessary to spell out this role via such an all encompassing proposal. This kind of thing is / should be defined and agreed upon during the formation of a new workstream. Different workstreams can operate under a wide variety leadership models and it is not wise to assume this will fit all of them.

Why does there have to be a single workstream leader with such power? Sure its one way of doing things but why assume its the best? I think its actually a kindof shitty way of doing things for a lot of the reasons @mcchadwick mentioned in the “resourcing” section of his post

I also agree with everything the others have said about the huge risks and problems that will arise from such centralization of power.

Its just not a good idea to make a proposal with such wide-reaching consequences when there are better and more targeted ways to decide these things

5 Likes

Another major concern I have is performance accountability. Others have talked about governance for removal in the case of a blatantly nefarious actor taking control of the workstream. What about the case of overall poor leadership and performance? This proposal implies the workstream leader would be immune from any kind of removal short of governance for the duration of the workstream contract while simultaneously retaining the ability to get rid of anyone for any reason they claim.

Way too much power for a workstream leader with near zero accountability

3 Likes

Could you expand on what you would like to see of these stronger checks against the power of the workstream leaders?

3 Likes

Well, certainly restricting the ability of the work stream leader to stray from a line item budget would be a good start. I don’t think the leader should unilaterally be able to decide the budget once passed. Fox holders would have no power over any part of the workstream beyond selecting a leader if budget were not restricted to that which is explicitly in the proposal. Those line items could be explicitly vague, if needed, leaving discretion to the leader, or to the workstream members. However, with this proposal as written, the fox holders could approve a proposal to spend X amount on advertising, and then once passed, the leader could unilaterally decide it should go somewhere else.

That just doesn’t seem prudent, as the only recourse would be to remove the leader through politics and governance. That further would be disempowering fox holders that voted for the advertising spend. If the fox holders expected X to be spent on advertising, then that information would help decide their vote to establish the workstream in the first place.

6 Likes

What is the difference now vs if this proposal was enacted? Other than someone stepping down voluntarily/not showing up, how do we remove a workstream leader now? A governance vote or not re-upping the workstream are the only ways I am able to see the ways to do this currently. So ultimately nothing would be changed in this case.

3 Likes