Notes towards forming an Ecosystem Development Collective

This post proposes the incubation of the Ecosystem Development Collective. This post intends to capture early feedback as this concept will mature in the coming months.

We will describe the idea, and then conclude with a roadmap.

What is the Ecosystem Development Collective?

Ecosystem Development is a crucial activity that helps make everything else in the ecosystem click together and run more smoothly.

The Ecosystem Development Collective would be an on-chain collective whose staff is tasked with facilitating the development of the Polkadot ecosystem through leveraging and connecting resources from categories such as research, development, operations, marketing, business development, human resources, capital, and others.

As a contributor to a decentralized network, it would not own those functions but rather help connect the dots.

Motivation

The mission of the Ecosystem Development Collective would be to increase the overall success of the ecosystem by taking a holistic view of the general direction, removing roadblocks, and increasing the resourcefulness and performance of the system.

The Polkadot ecosystem has lots of resources in the categories mentioned above. To ensure that the ecosystem can sustainably grow to its full potential, we need to leverage those resources in productive ways.

The Ecosystem Development Collective (EDC) could contribute to this need through a cross-functional team of experts experienced in research, tech, education, marketing, governance, and economics that connect the dots:

  • EDC members would be problem solvers: They surface problems in the ecosystems and expose them to the community to get solved.
  • EDC members would be strategists: They see the bigger picture and how every component in the ecosystem contributes to the bigger vision.
  • EDC members would be networkers: They know a lot of people in the ecosystem and understand who could help solve a problem
  • EDC members would be knowledgeable: They stay up-to-date with the latest developments of the network and can quickly relay that information to the people who should learn about it

Examples

From my own experience as a free Polkadot ecosystem agent, I can attest that this line of work is direly needed.

  • We need people who proactively discover which teams might have great synergy and introduce them to each other (e.g. Introducing Lastic and Tanssi to each other because blockspace markets might be helpful for appchains-as-a-service)
  • We need people to anticipate potential problems ahead of time and mitigate them (e.g. some folks at the 2024 Polkadot Summit realized that Snowbridge expects a regular parameter update through Governance but that these updates could be troublesome if clogging up the root track)
  • We need to create consensus on questions like “What is Polkadot 2.0 exactly?” or “What strategic focus should the ecosystem have in 2024?” that can only be achieved through actively initiating broad discussions and converting them into decisions.

Previous Efforts

  • A workshop during the 2023 Polkadot Summit discussed an Ecosystem Technical Fellowship (thread by @Birdo) - this was described much more technical in nature and imo lacked a clear scope. The proposal here focuses on a defined objective of ecosystem success through coordination
  • Our own work as OpenGov.Watch has led me to realize that OpenGov is just an extension of ecosystem development. We are actively working to develop a “Polkadot 2.0 Strategy” (thread) and lead it into implementation.
  • @tomi has worked towards a model of “Five Fellowships” (thread)
  • The Polkadot Ecology Research Institute has published its own “Polkadot Growth Strategy Report” (thread by @ZouYang)

Scope

This is just an early list from the top of my head of current issues I want to see improve. The scope is defined by the experts on the team and what they are capable of doing, provided that it feeds into the overall mission.

  • Strategy
    • actively engage stakeholders to curate a consensus strategy
    • implement the strategy through proper and necessary programs
  • Marketing & Business Development: Coordinate with marketing and BD teams to
    • ensure we have effective and efficient structures set up as an ecosystem
    • facilitate the intake of leads and the coverage of Leads through the lifecycle
    • grow an array of solution architects to provide to incoming leads
    • Market solutions building on Polkadot in an integrated manner
  • Success
    • QA & audits
    • Support & scam prevention
    • UX/DX
    • research and publications on various
      • legal best practices
      • accounting best practices
    • be in contact with meatspace entities like the Cayman Foundation
  • Incubation
    • DAOs & Collectives
    • Protocol Subsidies
    • Software Innovation (zk & privacy, smart contracts, VMs)
  • Integrations
    • Data/BI
    • Web2 Wrappers
    • SDKs

Considerations

  • Team:
    1. The team members have to be voted on
    2. They should be able to work together, we need team players who can keep their egos under control and put serving the ecosystem above serving themselves
    3. Team members should be multi-disciplinary, we need diversity in this team
    4. On the one hand we want domain experts from the eco, on the other hand, we don’t want to cannibalize our ecosystem too much. If collective members were recruited from other teams, we should strive for either part-time engagements or offer a transition period with mixed engagement to make the process graceful.
    5. Ecosystem Development has the success of the whole ecosystem in mind. This demands high ethical standards for the members and any notion of grifting (as we sadly see it in other Treasury-funded projects) should be avoided to the best possible extent. This requires that collective members always act on their best behavior and work hard and diligently.
    6. In contrast to the technical fellowship, which thrives on having many developers that grow into the collective over many years, I see the EDC team as striving to be as small and lenient as possible but also grow future talent on the team
    7. Of course you may already privately or publicly declare interest to join the collective, but please do not ask for any assurances. We need to give this new thing space to breathe to become the thing that serves the whole ecosystem
  • Salary: Of course, there should be a payment aligned with the amount of work done and value provided. A ranked system as established in the Fellowship makes sense. The formal rules have to be deliberated based on the knowledge gained until the proposal is locked in (we might see the Ambassador collective launch before then)

Roadmap

  • solicit feedback, validate the idea (1 month)
  • formulation (1 month)
    • draft a manifesto and formal proposal
    • begin recruitment in the ecosystem
  • OpenGov decision (1 month)
  • Integration through the fellowship & deployment (~2-3 months)
  • Setup (~1 month)

This would put collective operational near the end of the year. If there is strong demand for it, we can accelerate the process (e.g. via a bounty while we await the formal setup).

Disclosure

I see my current work as part of ecosystem development. I intend to bootstrap this collective and fold my existing line of work into it. Of course, this depends on whether the idea is validated and executed appealingly.

8 Likes

This is a great initiative, I hope it gets through and will like to see active community members across various regions too
Thanks

5 Likes

Great initiative @alice_und_bob

3 Likes

Question: How does the Ecosystem Development Collective relate to the Ambassadors Collective?

The Ambassadors Collective is defined per RFC 487 to

[…] represent Polkadot outside of its existing sphere and help bring new entrants into the Polkadot ecosystem. In this capacity, ambassadors have a lot of similarity to what might normally be considered business development, outreach, and relationship management. They should introduce new people and organizations to Polkadot, speak at and host events, and facilitate partnership creation.

From this, I would compare them as:

  • Ambassadors are facing outward, reaching new people, being in the field, and doing BD
  • Ecosystem developers are facing inward, helping mediate strategy, connecting people and resources, and solving problems.
3 Likes

Question: I work at ecosystem team X. Should I join the EcoDev Collective?

Options:

  • be part of EcoDev as part of team X: If you want to do EcoDev work, it does not matter in which legal construction you work. You are good
  • do the work of team X and EcoDev at the same time: Ecosystem development is a dedicated role. There will be a shared team agenda that gets executed. Will you have sufficient dedicated time for EcoDev?
  • leave team X to work in the EcoDev collective: This is your decision. Consider where you think you can add the most value and that consistency for existing teams is key.

The EcoDev collective will be a service unit for the whole ecosystem. As such its primary job will be to actively communicate with all the teams. I don’t see a need to strategically place your people in the collective, but if you do, consider that active contributions to advance the agenda of the collective will be required.

Question: I run team X and we are operating a service for the whole ecosystem. Should we all join the collective?

Consider that it is individuals, not teams, who are being voted into the collective. If you expect to operate as a team, you should continue to be your own logical unit. If you provide a good service to the ecosystem, going through the regular proposal process, or setting up your own bounty or collective, will make more sense!

1 Like

I believe this is needed & should be fast tracked if possible? Additionally, I think there will likely be some overlap, as to stand-up such an effective initiative knowledge sharing is a major requirement of success! This document of already participating companies using current tools from parachains would be a great jump off point to strategy for how we can better serve them. Companies Secured by Polkadot - Google Sheets

1 Like

I believe this will expand the community even further coupled with the new changes in the ambassador program. I hope it gets through too, it would be a great motivation to active community members in various regions.

2 Likes