From Our Discord: "How To Avoid Biting Off More Than We Can Chew"

This is a cleaned-up version of a Discord thread I posted and several other community members contributed to between 2022-01-15 and 2022-01-17. The intent with posting this here is to make this material easier to find, reference, and share as appropriate.

Appt Pupil 01/15/2022

One of the things I am thinking about as we prep for X1 is how we create a culture that doesn’t dawdle yet also doesn’t burn out its people

As I was putting together some thoughts offline on X1 milestones, the phrase “Time is a non fungible token” popped into mind.


What I mean by that is tradorgs have a nasty habit of trying to do too many things. They treat the time of their people (it’s most valuable resource) like an infinite resource. I’ve spent days in budget meetings where people argued about where to invest $1K, but the question of “do we actually have enough person-hours to do this work” never came up. The result: pain!

What if in each pod we took an estimate of how much time each person could devote to DAO work in the next period and created tokens for each 30 minute segment, per person? After all, 30 minutes of Vitalik time and 30 minutes of my time get you very different results!

The token supply would represent our work capacity, which we could then start to assign to our backlog of things to be done, ongoing admin and communication work, and “slack time” that can be spent at the discretion of each person.

That last bit is really important, BTW. If we try to schedule at 100%, we have no flexibility. If there’s anything humanity should have learned (and relearned) in the last 2 years, it is that the future is uncertain. Most sources I’ve seen recommend capping scheduled activities at 70% to allow time for overruns, brilliant new ideas, random emergencies, etc.

On the demand side, we can create estimates of how much value we expect from each effort. In Lean thinking, we generally put work into 3 buckets: value-added work, necessary but non-value add work (NNVA), and waste. The goal, of course, is to keep waste as low as possible, be efficient in doing NNVA work well enough to keep things going, and maximize the value we get from the value-added stuff.

Thus, as we put together a backlog, we want some sense of how much value we can get from each item. Lots of people go wrong here and try to get too precise, but that in itself is a waste of time. I’ve learned that a good balance is to use what is know as an order-of-magnitude estimate for this work. If we’re looking at financial returns, is this more likely to return .1 ETH, 1 ETH, 10 ETH, 100 ETH? We can usually agree on that pretty easily, and those figures are useful enough to prioritize what to do next.

This also is useful for coming up with funding/compensation. Value added work is ideally compensated in line with the potential value it will provide, NNVA work is compensated consistently for each task type based on it being completing to a given standard, and waste is its own reward, because you’re not getting anything else for it.

As the DAO completes work, the respective tokens representing the time of each person are burned. This provides a useful record of where our efforts were directed that we can use to improve in every way and ensure fairness in assignment and compensation.

The logistics of doing this today would likely be a pain, yet this seems like it would be worth the effort, as well as an opportunity to make this easier. Doing this well would be a huge improvement over tradorgs and even DAOs whose cultures are prone to burnout, so I hope to see us and others pick this up and run with it.

julz.eth 01/15/2022

Soooo many interesting thoughts here Pupil!

julz.eth 01/15/2022

100% agree with this, loved @louis - albiverse and @cryptohun3y 's framing around DAO “mental fitness”

3 Pillars of Contributor Mental Health In DAOs (and the Metavers… —…

julz.eth 01/15/2022

ALSO was just chatting with my friend 0xjim from Newt (experiments at Aave) and I think they’re actually moving forward towards this idea of non-fungible time token

See lightweight product spec here:

Non-Fungible Time


Newt discord here: Discord

Generally though, I am rly keen on exploring this concept. I think the biggest challenge here though is what you outlined: value labeling. Ie. 30 mins of my time != 30 mins of Vitalik’s time.

I really want to make sure we keep all of this in mind as we think about pod commitments, contributor ‘time requirements’, compensation/grant-giving, etc.

hanamichi 01/17/2022

oh god they’ve tokenized punching in and punching out…

it’s a clever idea and mad props to your friends who built it.

just not for me i guess

Appt Pupil 01/17/2022

I agree that doing this indiscriminately is a terrible idea. It needs to be in the service of giving historically undervalued “glue” work its due and providing an option for agreeing on terms for complex engagements that aren’t well-suited to a defined tangible result

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