This piece was originally published in January 2023 through Content Guild on Tally's blog.

Introducing and exploring Maker<>Manager, a primitive for DAO builders and operators to organize their on-chain organizations

NOTE: This idea was inspired by Paul Graham’s 2009 Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule

Makers and Managers: An introduction

An organization’s survival can be distilled into two activities: maintaining the organization and evolving the organization. Managing organizational activities is mostly associated with maintenance while making activities are mostly associated with evolution. Organizations live and die by the value it delivers so it’s vital to understand the underlying primitive is working to ensure efficient functionality.

To state the obvious, managers are mostly concerned with managing activities and makers with making activities: both are essential for delivering value. This is not to suggest makers don’t manage and managers don’t make; the relationship is mutually beneficial. What characterizes successful team-based value delivery is how the team oscillates between the two modes of operation, at both the collective and individual levels, meaning at times makers must manage and managers must make.

Makers require hours or days-long blocks of uninterrupted time in order to deliver tangible value. Managers, in contrast, live mostly in 30 or 60- minute blocks. They are interlocutors whose success hinges upon meetings to coordinate information flows and to uncover opportunities that makers can execute on. For makers, switching costs — the sum total of energy and effort expended to move from one task to another — tend to be disproportionately high compared to switching costs for managers. Higher switching costs means less productivity, less revenue, and ultimately less value delivery for the organization .

Fully understanding the dynamics of these value driving activities directly correlates to more organizational success.

Maker<>Manager: An Organizational Primitive

Maker<>Manager is an organizational primitive for modeling activity within an organization to deliver value.

The Maker<>Manager primitive is especially relevant in DAOs due to the extent of coordination challenges DAOs face and the nature of their globally distributed, asynchronous activities. The more DAO operators understand the dynamics of making and managing activities in their DAOs, the more effective the DAO becomes at optimizing and creating value. DAO operators can use the Maker<>Manager primitive, both conceptually and practically, to frame exploring and constructing value delivery.

Conceptually, Maker<>Manager implies a dichotomy that scaffolds a minimum viable organizational design focused on creating sufficient context for contributors and users to meaningfully engage with the DAO. Operators can use it to shape essential organizational components like process design, incentive & compensation mechanisms, contributor paths & roles, and touch points between DAO and non-DAO members.

The Maker<>Manager primitive gives a frame for thinking and talking about these components in terms of specific activities.

For example, there are a host of activities with a bias towards making: smart contract design & development, governance research & design, proposal writing, product architecting & prototyping, quality content writing (blog posts, documentation, thought leadership, etc), strategy, etc.

Similarly, there are a host of activities with a bias towards managing: new member onboarding, community management, business development, proposal management, client relations, operations, etc.

Applying Maker<>Manager primitive thinking and explicitly differentiating between making and managing activities allow DAOs to minimize coordination issues to optimize value delivery.

Maker<>Manager: In Action

Service DAOs

The Maker<>Manager primitive is especially useful in service delivery models characterized by high coordination inputs (stakeholder requirements, multi-party collaboration, etc) and high quality tangible outputs (written content, smart contracts, etc).

In a service DAO context Maker<>Manager implies a dichotomy that promotes a structure for matching client needs with service solutions through a process that shepherds convergence points between managers and makers requisite for delivering tangible value to clients.

For example, if the client requests a check-in call the manager can take the meeting, gather feedback, and asynchronously relay it to the maker in order to successfully shepherd the timely and satisfactory delivery of the service. The manager buffer between the client and the maker is immensely valuable especially when it comes to creating content in a decentralized, globally distributed, and asynchronous fashion.

In the early days, DAO builders and operators will have to iron out these processes with copious amounts of human touch. Over time, the Maker<>Manager primitive can help shepherd these high-touch processes to low-touch processes by implementing autonomous on-chain structures to optimize value delivery to its highest form. (i.e. turning manager activities into smart contracts)

In Conclusion

Maker<>Manager is an organizational primitive for thinking and doing about activity within an organization in order to deliver value. The model is especially useful for service DAOs as it distinguishes between activities for coordinating service delivery (managers) and activities for creating deliverables (makers). DAO builders and operators can use it to organize and identify essential activities for value delivery and promote which activities are good candidates to encode into smart contracts therefore minimizing coordination overhead and optimizing value delivery. When implemented correctly DAOs can supercharge coordination, reduce tedious busy work, and focus on providing the most value for its members.