Catalyst Circle

Meeting 5 - Commentary

Commentary and Discussion from the community on Catalyst Circle Meeting 5

Friday, 10th September, 2021

FelixWeber - 09/10/2021

FelixWeber — 09/10/2021 - Would love to have some feedback from the community about yesterdays CC meeting #5 Was a quite difficult and emotional meeting for all CC members and we would really really love your feedback

Discord context

Randall - 09/10/2021

Randall — 09/10/2021 - What I got at a summary level is that the fast-funding proposal highlighted more pain-points than just speed (good info!), but (red flag) veered from its core mission to enable high-importance projects to drive forward decisively. And some commitments from circle members were not met.
And under-resourcing in circle remains a recognized problem; that the community doesn't care much for spending time rehashing that issue, but that doesn't make it not a problem. On this, my POV is that if the circle is to have responsibility without resourcing, that would be a sham construct. If it does have a mission and authority as I understand to be the real intent, I believe it should do what is needed, notify IOG and CF and community of the consented mandate, and get'er done.[8:22 PM]
Chaining onto the latter point:
On fast-funding, I find it completely ridiculous that the circle should go to a slow funding process to get consent to enable a fast funding process. I understand, but simply disagree. Asking CF and IOG for e.g. 100k ADA from the treasury, with proposals arriving into circle delegates from their respective membership, and having the circle's consent for those initiatives, would make more sense to me.
Randall — 09/10/2021 - hope I'm not way off on my understanding here : )

Discord context

Saturday, 11th September, 2021

Nori - 09/11/2021

Nori — 09/11/2021 I started writing down my thoughts, and it turned out to be much too long for a post on Discord (apparently there is a 2000 character limit!), so here is a PDF of the thoughts that I made based on watching the meeting.

Nori - Catalyst Circle #5 - Meeting Thoughts

First of all, let me start by saying that I am very grateful that these meetings are recorded and available for the Catalyst community to watch. Thank you to the Circle for maintaining transparency and openness. This meeting covered some difficult emotional and challenging ethical grounds, and I wanted to post some of my thoughts. They are broken down into three large buckets:
1) Communication and Expectation Setting
2) Volunteerism vs. Paid Professionals
3) Invoking Special Privileges

Communication and Expectation Setting

It was apparent from the meeting and conversation that the Circle could use more support in capturing action items, reminding people, and following up in-between meetings. There also seemed to be some challenges with expectation setting. Being able to reflect on these and come up with ideas to improve are a great exercise and I am happy to see you all willing to improve things.
One thing that should help (it's still an experiment, so we'll see! will be the team of facilitators and secretaries that are forming to support the Catalyst Circle. This team of 7 people will be able to act as a team of meeting administrators splitting the duties of facilitation and secretary between two representatives, and the rest of the team assisting in the creation of the next meeting agendas, capturing and disseminating action items, and general meeting hygiene activities and archival recording of notes and recordings.
One area of focus for the Circle can be to set expectations of the roles of each of the Circle members. Is the expectation just to show up at a 2 hour meeting once every two weeks? If not, it would be good to outline the additional expectations and the time that should be required to fulfill these additional requirements. It looks like in your exuberance to make some impact, the Catalyst Circle tried to take on a lot of different initiatives, and perhaps took on more than was healthy for the time available from the members.

Volunteerism vs. Paid Professionals

The topic of volunteerism vs. paid professionals is a really great one. The current circle is comprised of volunteers, and desires to transition into paid professionals. This will better justify the time demands of the roles (see above points) and set up strong expectations of what success looks like in this role. I think this is a positive direction in which to move to make Catalyst Governance more sustainable over the long term. Volunteerism is a strength in our community, but we also need to be able to set a high bar on these roles and have strong expectations of performance to be successful. Paying people for this performance is more sustainable over the long term as people can stop trying to fit it in between their full-time job and personal life, if they can work for Catalyst part-time or fulltime.

Invoking Special Privileges

This was, to me, the most interesting and heartfelt part of the meeting. I found it very reassuring that the ethical and trust issues around invoking special privileges for the Catalyst Circle to get very important proposals into IdeaScale after the deadline were brought up by members of the Circle. When something feels wrong, it should be explored, and I think the discussion comparing the critical need to fund the next Catalyst Circle versus evoking special privileges and losing trust or respect of the community was a great exploration of why it felt wrong, and getting to consensus on a path, even if it did not feel completely great at the end. The fact that the discussion happened and that people were able to voice concerns, discuss it, and then share that conversation in all its awkward emotional glory with the community was in itself trust-building, transparent, and open. I wasn't there, so I can't say for sure how I would have handled it, but I respect the conversation and willingness of people to step up and say "wait a second, this feels wrong, we need to talk about it.".

Sunday, 12th September 2021

Randall - 09/12/2021

Randall — 09/12/2021 - thanks for that, Nori. I agree that bypassing the rules for the main funding process feels a little strange. That said, this community did elect this circle. Precisely how much authority goes with that isn't a simple and easy question. There was honor represented in questioning the exercise of power, and taking the decision while re-presenting it to the community for evaluation and consent-or-dissent seems like the right thing.
Randall — 09/12/2021 - My conclusion above about fast-funding probably sounds glib, and I apologize for that. I will rephrase:
This group (the catalyst circle) isn't first a group of powerful people, but more fundamentally represents the purposes of their constituencies. ...representing them in a decentralized decision-making body, with continuing consent of those represented.
If those represented are expressing a need for a fast funding process, and if the Catalyst Circle makes a recommendation [see 1] to directly allocate a modestly-sized fund (relative to the main Catalyst fund) to serve the felt need on an experimental-not-permanent basis, then I see that as decentralized leadership. Taking the recommendation back to the represented communities would be appropriate, just as was done with the administrative override (well done on that choice, vs worse options).
Still: pushing a proposal into the Catalyst voting process to get permission feels like an abdication of the Circle's authority granted from their constituencies, and giving the Voters (who, I note, only have one seat in the circle) the decision feels like begging for plutocracy to neuter the purpose of the Catalyst Circle. It also feels less honorable than it would do for this decentralized decision-making body to commit gently and carefully to an act of true leadership [see 2].
[1] the specifics of this recommendation might be imperfect and cause dissent (good signal!). Or it might be good enough to learn from, and you'll feel consent. I trust that a plan honestly reviewed and improved and recommended by these elected representatives (+their constituencies) will serve the community more effectively than a plan drafted with low consensus and pushed awkwardly into F6 will do.
[2] Acting outside the boundaries of Catalyst Fund is essentially on-mission for the Catalyst Circle in my estimation, though we may not yet have formalized what process is appropriate and legitimate for such activity. Lead!(edited)

n+FOL [ Marta ] — 09/12/2021

n+FOL [ Marta ] — 09/12/2021- I appreciate being asked for feedback on what occurred at the Circle Meeting #5. I have put my comments in a PDF document because of the recent experience of posting links, and their becoming corrupted.

1 Regarding the Catalyst Circle Meeting #5 discussion, and outcome.

Having served on the faculty of several universities where budgets, hiring, and even curriculum is done by committee, and having read much history on successions of government by political groups, I recognize approaches that raise concern. Without naming names or specifics, here are descriptions of patterns that often occur in governance by committee, where a small group may have an unspoken agenda:
Omission is often used and is more damaging than commission, by participants in the committee. By this I mean, not providing information to the public who will be affected in a timely manner, or as expected, in a way that is damaging to the whole but upon doing so serves an unspoken agenda.
Renaming groups to misrepresent agendas or confuse the public.
Placing easily intimidated or new people in leadership positions within the committee, so every time they speak they feel nervous or worried that they first must get the approval of the committee. In other words their speech is “chilled “, and they are not autonomous. They are under the authority of the committee.
Making it difficult to find information that is deemed to be published for transparency. Or publishing it late, when there is no time for the majority of the community to reflect upon it and respond thoughtfully.
Employing nepotism, populating groups or committees who will not take actions autonomously, but only act in accordance with the implied pressure from the committee.
Creating disturbances to public meetings or discussions, if the speaker or topic is considered possibly out of sync with the committees agenda, so they can not speak coherently or the topic can not be heard.
Using emotional language to express affection for someone or their idea, when the committee’s actual intent is to undermine it, because it may unwittingly challenge the agenda of the committee.
I agreed with Dor’s position, for the health of the broader community to not allow a future group of Catalyst Circle delegates to be impacted by an act of omission , no matter what the stated reason for that omission may have been.
I do not feel there was open and healthy discussions in the broader community from some sectors addressed in the Circle meetings. In one example, there was an initial effort, regarding a request to submit an outline of what problems and solutions should be addressed in the first three months. But I think that follow-up discussion and it’s objectives were not later addressed. And we lost many weeks by limiting swarm sessions to game play, etc, “because of relaxing summer time”, which could have been used to discuss these important topics.
I hope this feedback is useful for some. I have participated in Cardano and Project Catalyst fully, because I am in alignment with statements by Charles Hoskinson, about the importance of a decentralized economy and governance structures. Sadly I know from experience and history, that such noble efforts can be overtaken by shadow agendas. I hope there will be solutions in the future to protect against such unfair practices. And hopefully there will be an oversight process that can protect the mission of Cardano, as stated.
Much gratitude for the good work, which was undertaken and I may not have included in this response. It is my opinion that humans can rise to the good intentions behind a project’s inception, if intimidation is absent, and communication is not inhibited, and not only left to a small group.
N+Fold ( Marta )

Juliane - 09/12/2021

Juliane — Yesterday at 10:01 PM

Hi @Nori . Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. Felt relief to read it, and so constructive.
Juliane — Yesterday at 10:12 PM Thank you @n+FOL [ Marta ] , very interesting angle of you response. :pray: