3 Pillars of Contributor Mental Health In DAOs (and the Metaverse)
January 4th, 2022

Disclaimer: All the information in this post is for informational and educational purposes only. The information here is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you are encountering troubles with your mental health make sure to reach out to a qualified mental health professional.

The DAO space is extremely demanding for its contributors. Too often passionate and talented people start contributing but after a short honeymoon phase they’re overwhelmed and run out of steam or worse.

DAOs are new work environments. At this point their many inefficiencies lead to the accumulation of a psychological burden for contributors. An organization wide liability we call mental debt ❌🙅‍♀️. This debt can accumulate in 3 areas.

  1. On the contributors end, the amount and pace of information that needs to be processed is orders of magnitude greater than in start-up environments. And it’s on 24/7, 365 days/year putting a strain on contributor’s brains.
  2. The tools we use today -Discord, Twitter- were all designed for use in other contexts with other interests in mind - not for orderly asynchronous collaboration.
  3. Most importantly, DAOs and their communities are still early in designing cultures and operations that encourage mental fitness as they scale.

Only by prioritizing mental fitness as a core design principle in each of these 3 areas will we succeed in making DAOs a great place to collaborate.

by @cryptohun3y
by @cryptohun3y

1 - Contributor Level Training And Education

The burst of energy required to operate a scaling DAO is hardly sustainable without proper training or experience. Contributors need to be equipped to swim in the rapid waters of DAOs without drowning. They need to learn how to best leverage currents to progress swiftly without getting exhausted.

We believe that this shift can be initiated through basic education on brain science.

For example, having a basic understanding of dopamine -our brain’s motivation currency- makes it possible to proactively filter out habits and tools that deplet it against our will. And understanding the relationship between belonging and mental fitness can help better select the right place to contribute.

Bit by bit Web3 contributors can grow their toolkit through learning key pillars of mental fitness like nutrition, sleep and mindfulness skills. Lots of resources exist today but few are adapted and embedded in the culture and routine of a Web3 builder.

DAO contributors evolve in a place where the brain and the machine are in constant interaction. We expect that many contributors will struggle before they start taking mental fitness seriously and enter a journey towards more sustainable and enjoyable performance.

2 - The Clean DAO Tech Stack

There is nothing worse for brain health than using adversarial products all day long.

What’s an adversarial product? It's a product where incentives are misaligned with users’ best interest. Major Web2 products suffer from adversarial designs. Twitter has many great features but it is also optimized to make you scroll for longer than you’d like in order to sell more ad space. This misalignment is paid at a high price by us and billions of consumers.

The presence of tools with poor or adversarial designs cannot be tolerated in a DAO’s tech stack. Running a DAO is hectic and contributors don’t have any spare energy for tools that aren’t supporting them in meaningful ways. A bad tech stack is the promise of a rapid and constant increase in a DAO’s mental debt.

by @cryptohun3y
by @cryptohun3y

Beyond adversarial designs, future collaboration tools have to minimize context switching and ‘tool fatigue’. This means creating seamless, cognitively smooth experiences by integrating tightly with already adopted technologies. Today this starts with a clear segmentation of content types across interfaces like Notion, Discourse or Discord.

Most importantly, we’re humans. And current digital environments lack rich human interactions. DMs, likes and emoji reacts are cheap but short lived information. A whole range of tools will focus on fostering stronger connections among contributors. Good relationships and a sense of belonging considerably increase effectiveness in communication and team work.

3 - DAO Level And Community-Wide Initiatives

When DAOs figure out a brain-friendly tech stack they’ll experience massive leaps forward. But the bulk of the work for each core team and DAO community will be in developing a mental health conscious culture.

Just like professional sports teams, we can expect top DAOs to have a whole working group in charge of fostering social connections, coaching and personal growth programs. A concrete first step could be educating contributors on burn out and creating internal processes to handle it.

Eventually, everything in a DAO up to operational details will reflect on contributor mental health. During contributor onboarding for example, it is necessary to 1. communicate just the necessary amount of information to minimize cognitive load and 2. have newcomers establish their first social connections. Similarly a good compensation system will work from our needs for stability and predictability in order to enable contributors to adopt a long term ownership mindset.

by @cryptohun3y
by @cryptohun3y

Two scenarios co-exist in DAOs for contributors:

  • access to meaningful and liberating collaboration.
  • constant mental stress and submission to a machinery we can’t seem to control.

The first option implies that we take mental fitness as a core design principle. DAOs are an opportunity for a new culture to emerge. Success here will result from coordinated action among stakeholders in each of the 3 areas and it will help DAOs rise as efficient and sustainable means to collaborate.

If we’re sick of working today, how could we produce better outcomes for DAOs and for society tomorrow ? The future of work is now.

This post is a collaboration between Steph, Ale, Antoine, Sinclair and Louis. If this resonates, DM us → Twoplus.*

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