The Optimism Collective is building community governance through experimentation. This iteration happens through time-bound governance experiments known as “Seasons.” Seasons allow the Collective to test new strategies for incrementally increasing community involvement in the governance of the Optimism Collective, while incorporating reflection and feedback as fundamental stages of the process.
This approach is informed by ongoing research into the challenges and successes of other DAOs.
The Optimism Foundation has prioritized research into various aspects of the historical development and processes of DAOs. The design of Season 4 - and the Collective’s approach generally - speaks to a few concepts in particular, such as: adopting multiple decision-making models, creating prioritization frameworks to guide strategy, and ensuring funding structures are flexible.
The full results of this research were compiled by Optimism Foundation Governance Lead Justine into a series of governance roadmaps and a searchable library of DAO policies, programs, and processes: The Collective DAO Archives. If you’re interested, check out DAO governance timelines here and search the governance library here. If you’d like to lend support to maintaining the Archives, check out the Foundation Mission RFP.
The Collective is testing these concepts out in time-bound periods of experimentation followed by reflection. This framework allows us ample space to learn from the outcomes, improve upon the ideas, and hold votes on new experiments. Community members and delegates have been welcoming to new ideas, as there is always an opportunity to discontinue failed experiments and try new ones. This openness fosters innovation and allows us to iterate quickly on DAO governance, a challenge faced by both DAOs and governments outside of crypto.
In Season 4, the Collective will run several key experiments designed to increase community involvement in the gradual decentralization of Optimism.
Strategy and prioritization are crucial muscles of any successful organization. Executing these thoughtfully becomes even more challenging in a DAO. Season 4 introduces “Intents,” which are flexible and directional goals designed to align and focus the Collective towards shared goals. All work supported or executed by the Collective should be in pursuit of these Collective Intents. In Season 4, the Collective allocates a specific budget for each Intent, aimed at supporting the highest leverage initiatives working towards that Intent.
Most DAOs experience structural challenges wherein working groups resembling persistent business units are individually funded for an indefinite period of time. Individual budgets are allocated out of an unscoped treasury, and consolidated into an overall budget that is often unsustainable and tends to overfund non-core work while underfunding strategic work.
With the inclusion of “Missions and Alliances,” the Season 4 structure was intentionally designed to avoid these types of challenges.
Missions are proposals for specific initiatives that achieve an Intent. There are two types of Missions:
Proposed Missions - Submitted under an Intent, these missions allow the Governance Fund to support a broader range of initiatives aligned with Intents.
Foundation Missions - Defined by the Foundation, these missions are akin to public Requests for Proposals for the Partner Fund and also work towards Intents.
Alliances are groups of contributors that temporarily work together start-to-finish to accomplish a Mission. An Alliance can be a pre-established organization or a group of contributors that comes together specifically to complete a Mission.
All DAOs struggle with accountability. The Optimism Collective first implemented arbitrary funding limits in an attempt to create more accountability. Now, Trust Tiers allow funding limits to be set based on contribution, reputation, and impact instead. Alliances can submit proposals based on Trust Tiers, the first step towards a more robust reputation system based on positive impact within the ecosystem. Attestations will also be incorporated in Season 4, allowing reputation to start accumulating onchain.
For a full guide to Season 4 and to see community discussion about these experiments, visit the Collective’s governance forum.
Season 4 marks a powerful iteration in the development of the Optimism Collective's governance structure. Introducing foundational concepts like Collective Intents, Missions, Alliances, and Trust Tiers lays the groundwork for a more decentralized and community-driven organization.
The experiments-based approach to governance is a reflection of the Collective’s commitment to learning, iterating, and improving while navigating the complex world of decentralized governance. Progressing through each Season, the Collective inches closer to the vision of a truly decentralized and robust governance system that empowers the community and drives innovation in the industry.
Thanks for staying optimistic with us!