The DAO-Tony Greenberg Way
In our lives we seek the happiness of the wise. We study mindfulness based on Eastern religions which we know are timeless. And we find peace.
Yet in the business world, we’re addicted to fast-paced gadgets and trends that we don’t understand…like cryptocurrencies…running on blockchains. We can profit from it in the short term, but then we are confused when our currency drops and our nervous system rattles like tin cans tied to a dog’s tail.
We might want to ask deeper questions than whether the New New Thing will go to the moon. We might want to ask ourselves if the New New Thing aligns with our Core Truths. If so, we stand. Or hodl.
So let’s talk about DAOs. And the Dao. (Also spelled Tao.)
Until recently, if someone had asked you about a Dao, you might have told them about the Dao (?) as a Way or Path. The Dao is balance and fluidity. The Dao is The Big Lebowski’s guy, rolling with the punches. I know many Western CEOs with the main text of Taoism, the Dao Te Ching, on their shelves or the Tao of Pooh, every human’s primer for the framework of this belief.
Today, if you Google Dao, the first search results are not about Yin and Yang. These are Decentralized Autonomous Organizations or DAOs.
An interesting coincidence.
Now I know that the fact that Dao and DAO are spelled the same is just a fluke. Seeing patterns in unrelated things is a type of wishful thinking. And even though I talk fast and own more guitars than I know how to play, I’m not crazy.
Mystics tell us that we ignore synchronicities at our peril. In business, “Taoism has something valuable to offer,” writes Po-Keung Ip in “Taoism and Business Ethics,” and “can serve as a counterbalance to…greed, extravagance, and corporate excesses, as well as other forms of corporate malfeasance and corruption. ”
When the path of technology perfectly matches the paths of some of the most ancient wisdoms, does the striking one-in-a-trillion coincidence that the DAOs and Dao share the name “Dao” cease to seem like chance and begins to foreshadow a cosmic alignment?
And does “I’m a DAOist” make sense as a t-shirt?
Do the DAOs offer a path that allows us to follow the Dao?
Taoism has organized Eastern civilization for centuries.
In our Western civilization, DAOs are a brilliant new way to organize collective action. DAOs use blockchain technology from cryptocurrencies like Ether, Casper, and Cardano. DAOs differ from older organizations in that they do not have a typical reporting structure. Decisions are formalized as smart contracts, which are triggered whenever specific criteria are met. We all know that Bitcoin could one day become as mainstream as dollar bills. We think DAOs could become as commonplace for corporate governance as corporations and nonprofits. DAOs are horizontal, mycelial and…well…cool.
Let’s see where else DAO and Taoism intersect.
“Taoists try to be like water.
The Dao is the underlying template or field of existence. All life follows the furrows of the Dao like water along a river. The landscape is the expression of the elementary forces that have shaped it: the wind, the weather and time. Water does not fight Earth. Water flows, slows, floods and falls in reaction to boundaries.
Tech companies, in particular, need to flow like water. Clinging to anachronistic structures is like an icicle trying to stay solid in the summer, a river trying to rise.
Yes, the evolution of business has not matched the evolution of the landscape. Too often, we see human-made inefficiencies injected into organizational structures. Instead of flowing naturally, tasks are arbitrarily directed to satisfy piecemeal politics and fuel bureaucracy. Wouldn’t it be easier (and cheaper) to set the rules, build the landscape, and let the value flow?
Enter the DAOs. Company rules are written into the code. You don’t go uphill, you’re not controlled by frames or hampered by man-made barriers. Workflows naturally, pooling and rushing between the banks formed by the smart contracts that govern the organization. Even better, the rules can morph, which the DAOs call dynamic evolutionary governance. If Lao Tzu was a programmer, he would run a DAO.
“Taoism advocates fairness.
Typical program reimbursement structures are not equitable. Engineers write code and a company owns it, subsidizing executive bonuses.
But with a DAO, the remuneration is based on the creation of value. Contributions can be counted (transparently and according to DAO rules) to create reputation scores. Payments are based on work rather than financial contribution. People can do the job that suits them best. Participate as much or as little as they want. And token creators and holders decide on corporate governance, instead of eight people on board. (At least, that’s what happens in an ideal DAO. In practice, experts point out, many DAOs only pretend to be decentralized. When you look deeper, they model the old hierarchies. Almost none have yet mastered truly decentralized governance.)
“Taoists believe in kindness, modesty and cooperation.
On the DAO forums, kindness, modesty and cooperation are impressive. Developers are collaborating on something they own, something that’s also bigger than themselves. They tend to lack the edgy competition of many programming forums. Sounds like Taoism to me.
Wulf Kaal, a law professor and emerging technology strategist, thinks DAOs can be both kumbaya and bold: “DAOs continue to iterate on innovation captured in its community and create different DAO structures to capitalize on new ideas and trends identified organically.”
Compared to older structures, Kaal thinks DAOs could make superior decisions: “Centralized systems suck at getting information from the edge. DAOs bring in information from the edge all the time. Sub-DAOs with specialists decide detail and report to the DAO – much more efficient and more judgment-proof than a single ‘expert’ making the call unsupervised by the expert community.”
Of course, questions remain: can DAOs evolve? Navigating the troubled waters of commerce?
Gary R. Silverman, partner at international law firm White & Case, offers a thought that is Yang to my Yin: “Is modesty really what we want when our business ventures are competing on a global scale, and where boldness, innovation, and even a dash of boldness – think SpaceX – is needed to move us forward? Or do we rely on all the companies in the world to become benign and humble DAO entities? »
Silverman doubts that DAOs are agile enough: “I can see designing code to guide an organization through a very simple task. But when it comes to running a large, for-profit organization (Facebook, General Motors, L’ Oréal) or even much smaller (a corner convenience store), there are a million decisions that really come down to judgment – which markets to enter, which products to develop, pricing strategies, marketing strategies. ?”
Why DEVxDAO is crucial
Am I stretching my DAO-Dao comparison too far? Let’s make a bet. We can establish a Ricardian smart contract that will pay our bet automatically, without intermediaries.
For our smart contract, however, we would need an infrastructure: a decentralized application (or DApp). Without DApps, the decentralized revolution stops. Yet finding funding DApps is all too often as difficult as getting water flowing upstream.
The need for resources for early-stage DApps is one of the reasons I’m excited to support the nonprofit DEVxDAO.
DEVxDAO, blessed with its white paper, provides technology and community solutions for the evolution of the DAO infrastructure environment. DEVxDAO awards tens of millions of dollars in grants to anyone who provides innovative, open-source decentralized infrastructure solutions. Dozens of DEVxDAO organizations around the world are already tackling thorny issues in education, technology, energy, environment, and more.
Like any good idea, DEVxDAO replicates itself. It has already spawned five additional DAOs that follow the same internal governance as DEVxDAO.
“It’s an evolution of how you manage your governance layer so you can operate more efficiently,” says Timothy Lewis, Founder of DEVxDAO.
As my team and I get more involved in the coming months, I’ll say more about DEVxDAO and how DAOs could be the future of the corporate structure. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, meditate and do tai chi. Stay still in your mind. Don’t worry if you don’t think Taoism and DAOism go together. Taoism teaches us that everything changes. So eventually we will find better structures for our businesses than the DAO. Until then, I’m very happy to have a front row seat as DEVxDAO helps companies achieve higher form in line with the flow of Dao.
Tony Greenberg is an investor, consultant, impact maker and advisor to dozens of game-changing entities, the founder of RampRate, the top sourcing advisor for IT, and now directs his energies towards promoting projects with potential for transformation, including blockchain technologies that democratize access to investments and reduce the risk of corruption.
Warning: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise indicated, the author writes in a personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be taken to represent the official ideas, attitudes or policies of any agency or institution.