In this article we provide an overview of what we consider to be some of the most valuable skills DAO contributor can develop and use in today’s DAO space. For each of the 3 skill categories we provide a high-level introduction and briefly touch on corresponding tactics and practices.
Organizational leadership is no longer the exclusive domain of the C-suite. Web3 and the self-managing nature of DAOs is democratizing the ability for many DAO contributors to be impactful leaders.
With this novel mode of collaboration comes the need to educate and equip all DAO members - from contributors to operators to founders - with the fundamental skill sets they need to meaningfully participate in distributed organizations.
The contributor skills we describe here are based on the observation that fully engaging with a DAO is about more than simply accomplishing tasks - at its core, working in a DAO is about processing vast amounts of complex information and facilitating human collaboration in a fully digital work environment.
If We Were Built As Computers - An Analogy
If we think of ourselves through a Computer analogy Mental Fitness could be thought as our respective CPUs.
Layered on top of this computing power, DAO contributors should develop their Operating System: a set of Self-Direction skills and workflows for day-to-day work.
Finally, the CPU and Operating System form a solid foundation for DAO contributors to run DAO-specific Apps: facilitation skills. In self-managing organizations like DAOs aim to be, facilitation is the one true skillset that high value contributors should master.
Skill Set n°1 - Mental Fitness
Contributors Central Processing Unit (CPU)
At the core of a DAO Contributor’s practice is Mental Fitness.
If physical fitness helps you cope with physical stress and enjoy the thrill of sports, mental fitness allows you to flow through the cognitive, social and emotional stressors that come with DAO work while enjoying the thrill of contributing.
Mental fitness opens up the possibility for us to be in right relationship to ourselves and the people around us, and expands our capacity to engage in the ever-expanding knowledge work of Web3.
How do we develop meaningful mental fitness? Let’s dive in.
It starts with Cognitive Capabilities Training, the foundational layer of mental fitness. These practices actively rewire our neural pathways. Reps build our brain’s fitness through neuroplasticity.
Engaging this base layer of mental fitness can drastically enhance the quality of our attention, awareness and ultimately enhance our thinking, analysis and social-emotional processing in the digital workplace.
The practices: Meditation, breathwork, and active resting, stimulate gratitude/compassion, physical health including daylight, exercise, sleep, food.
The how: Build a daily routine that embeds mental exercising. For example doing a WimHof breathwork in the morning, followed by a 12 minutes meditation session to to strengthen your calm and focus. Simple habits like pausing for three deep breaths before, during and after a meeting can make a difference. Using body scanning techniques to actively recuperate in the middle of the day can prove extremely powerful too.
The ROI: Enhance your ability to process the vast amounts of information your brain receives on a daily basis in web3. Increased awareness, attention and depth of analysis.
The second pillar of Mental Fitness is Social-Emotional Processing. This is how we process the complex inputs from within ourselves and the outside world, and it builds on cognitive abilities like awareness. Social-Emotional Processing is the integration of social awareness and self-knowledge.
The practices: Checking-in regularly with yourself and set times for self-reflection, adopting growth mindset, peer support and mentorship.
The how: Be your own “executive coach”. Establish a daily cadence for self-reflection. Set time-bound intentions and be sure to create time to debrief.
Use questions as much as possible to train your brain to come from a place of curiosity, rather than pre-fixed ideas of what is right. Vibe into people’s work and communication styles. Acknowledge what you don't know. View challenges, conflict, and tensions as an opportunity for learning. Never a failure, always a lesson.
Carve out regular time for connection with a trusted web3 friend(s).
Set up regular meetings with a group of peer contributors.
The ROI: Enhanced ability to respond intentionally to triggers, to stay grounded through stressors, and to flow with relational challenges. Better manage your energy, emotions and prioritization. Grow yourself through cultivating positivity instead of beating yourself up.
Tending to our Mental Fitness core is an investment in our future selves as we build the necessary habits, stamina and flexibility to enjoy ourselves and develop our own unique potentials as contributors and beyond.
Skill Set n°2 - Self-Direction
Contributors Operating System (OS)
On top of a strong Mental Fitness core is our ability to self-direct. If mental fitness is our CPU, our ability to self-direct is our Operating System - the logic directing daily contributions: from setting our individual North Star goal to day to day prioritization tactics.
How to define your Contributor OS?
The practices: Self-assessment of skills and capacity, defining your contributor style, identifying your personal theory of change, short and long term goal setting, developing a decision-making matrix, design your environment based on how you uniquely function, prioritize always.
Identifying your contribution style may be the most important starting place for any DAO Contributor. Some guiding questions are:
What are your favorite kinds of projects and why are they meaningful to you?
What are your least favorite tasks, and why?
What’s your commitment? What percentage of your capacity are you able to commit to this project/DAO?
Make sure to work on defining your personal goals before selecting DAOs to contribute to.
Adopt systems to prioritize both your backlog of tasks and spontaneous inbound requests like DMs. A good prioritization system is key to save time, brain power and ultimately move faster towards your goals with minimal efforts.
Work with a coach or peer to define your cognitive tendencies. Develop mastery of skills that play on your strengths and let you perform at your best.
Set intentions on how you want to spend your days.
Block times off in your calendar to reflect the things you value. Time and energy are the DAO Contributor’s more precious resource - allocate it wisely.
What time of the day do you feel most productive? What time of the day are you most drained? Plan your work accordingly.
Notice patterns for how you work. Anticipate and be responsive to predictable stuck points.
At what points in a project do you have the most and least energy? What supports do you need to bring greater balance to your workflow?
Set both long and short term goals & expectations. Regularly evaluate if you’ve accomplished your tasks. Clearly articulate blockers, and work to remove them.
The ROI: Enhance your ability to meaningfully contribute in alignment with your values; increased sense of personal fulfillment with your work; enhance your ability to prioritize and find the shortest path to your daily goals.
Skill Set n°3 - Facilitation
Contributors DAO-Specific Apps
The outermost layer of the DAO Contributor’s educational toolkit is DAO Facilitation.
The word “facilitate” literally means to “make an action (or process) easy or easier; help bring about.” This philosophy sits at the center of self-managing organizations where most relevant outputs are emergent.
The DAO Facilitation layer encompasses the skills, tools or applications that a DAO Contributor should gain experience with to make collaboration happen. It’s a set of Apps or programs that we run on top of our CPUs and Operating Systems. It starts with facilitating interactions between community members up to the facilitation of critical decisions and projects. This also includes daily tasks like communications and meeting stewardship which eventually define the quality of work in a non-protocol DAO.
The practices: Be proactive with facilitating discussions, meetings, events, encounters. Be present and proactive during live communications. Cultivate the groups’ momentum by facilitating decisions and tidy project management. Be an active and right-sized project steward, have clarity on the purpose of the project, not just the goals or deliverables.
The how:Facilitation is to DAOs what management is to traditional organizations: a skill that makes things move forward.
Meeting stewardship - Make sure you and others have context. Set time aside to prepare ahead of meetings, understanding the object of the meeting, what information you and others need to gain in order to move forward. Debrief at the end of the meeting and document what was learned, what needs to happen next. Follow up to keep the group accountable. If you’re moderating, make sure to build an agenda intentionally and involve the right participants. We say meeting stewardship because a meeting’s success is not the sole responsibility of the meeting facilitator - it requires active and right-sized participation from everyone present.
Decision making - Use adapted decision making processes -advice, consent, voting…- for various types of decisions. Run workshops using Figma or Miro to facilitate interactive and engaging group decisions, and communicate visually.
Relationships - Design a conflict resolution process to deal with relational blockers.
Communications - Improve your async communications by understanding how to best use the tool stack: Discord, Clarity, Lobby, Coordinape, Snapshot, Gather... Design meetings and digests that keep necessary participants up to speed.
Project Management & Working groups - Learn DAO native project management practices inspired from Agile/Scrum to make projects happen in autonomy.
Operations - Facilitate processes for onboarding, compensation as well as stewardship of governance.
The ROI:Working in a DAO becomes both more efficient and legible. Communications happen faster with more clarity and less disagreements. Operations are more fluid and contributors can focus on adding value and expressing their full potential instead of being weighted down by half-baked processes.
DAO Contributor Education - For Whom?
The skill sets above are applicable to all DAO roles at varying degrees of intensity.
People who engage fully in DAO work - operators and founders - will look to leverage these tools for high performance, similar to the way C-suite members leverage coaching and trainings in traditional orgs. Operator roles are central coordination nodes that can undergo a lot of stressors and some of these skills can make a huge difference.
Contributors who engage more loosely with DAOs, say between 5-15 hours a week, will also benefit from DAO contributor education by improving their capability to quickly and effortlessly add value. Moving swiftly and confidently within any DAO environment. Ultimately, that makes contributing to a DAO a more fulfilling and enjoyable practice.
Taking a step back, contributor education is essential for individuals, for DAOs and for the DAO ecosystem as a whole. DAO contributor education:
Equips contributors with individual skills so they can express their full potential.
Trains contributors and operators in designing and facilitating the next generation of organizations.
Establishes the foundation for a dynamic, interoperable ecosystem of contributors and operators.
The Twoplus community exists to support DAO Contributor personal development and Mental Health as well as crafting Contributor Experiences that support those values. We believe that the need for Mental Fitness training and good CX in Web3 will be exponential in the coming years.