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Introducing the Catalyst Circle

The world’s largest decentralized innovation fund continues to evolve its governance and leadership model

8 July 2021 Kriss Baird 4 mins read

Introducing the Catalyst Circle

Project Catalyst has progressed at an incredible rate, doubling in almost every dimension from fund to fund since its launch. By any metric – from numbers of votes cast, funding available, or simply participants in our innovation processes – Catalyst is emerging as an invaluable fulcrum for Cardano’s future growth. Now, at the end of Fund 4, Project Catalyst has already proven to be a powerful experiment in collaboration and decentralized innovation.

With this explosive growth come unique challenges. Project Catalyst has a growing number of commitments to increasingly diverse functional groups of people who contribute to this step-change in collective intelligence. Specifically, community advisors, funded-proposers, stake pool operators (SPOs), and toolmakers & maintainers, all of whom contribute to the success and growth of Project Catalyst, and the success of Cardano itself.

Bringing more value

This increased diversification brings additional value to Project Catalyst, since it enables the formulation of ever more ideas and proposals. Equally, it will make communication among all these groups harder. Every cohort will need their voice to be heard, and their ideas and concerns discussed at project level.

Simply put, these groups need representation and trusted leadership acting on their behalf. If such representation is lacking, or missing altogether, the impact of Project Catalyst would be greatly diminished. This is why we're introducing the Catalyst Circle.

What is the Catalyst Circle?

The Catalyst Circle is a “human sensor array” acting as the representative body for all the different groups participating in Project Catalyst. The Circle that monitors the current state and future plans regarding governance in Catalyst. It detects and discusses concerns, objections and opportunities arising within the Catalyst ecosystem. The Circle might discuss, for example, the definition of amounts allocated to challenges Fund over Fund; changes or conditions to incentive parameters; the Catalyst API, etc.

By recording meetings and capturing actions in a backlog accessible to all, this activity will provide a view into the hopes, wants, needs, and concerns of the community within Project Catalyst. The Circle is also responsible for determining its own future shape and defining the election processes for Circle v2.

The Circle exists to fulfill four key goals:

  • To facilitate communication between the different functional groups
  • To provide a heads-up when red lines are crossed within a certain group
  • To suggest improvements on plans and processes that shape Project Catalyst
  • To define the election process for Circle V2

Member duties and responsibilities

Like Project Catalyst itself, the Circle will also evolve over time. Initially, elected members will serve 3-month terms, and elections will follow to continue improving and iterating the process. For elected members, we have identified these initial duties and responsibilities.

Each member of the Circle should:

  • Represent the community that selected them
  • Exercise their own best judgement about matters that come before the Circle
  • Familiarise other members with the projects, activities, aims, hopes, and concerns of their communities
  • Periodically take the opportunity to introduce policy proposals into the Circle’s agenda for consideration
  • Inform their communities about initiatives of the Circle

Each member also has the responsibility to:

  • Regularly attend meetings every two weeks
  • Maintain an agile backlog list to track issues between meetings
  • Review and comment on agenda issues ahead of time
  • Maintain awareness of the interests and concerns of their community
  • Disseminate the Circle’s outputs transparently and accessibly
  • Learn and practice effective meeting procedures
  • Produce an election protocol document for the next elections
  • Attend training sessions focused on inclusive and lean startup leadership techniques
  • Provide feedback on the effectiveness of the Circle

Leading and adapting

We have just held the first election for Catalyst Circle members in both Western & Eastern hemispheres, to include community members who couldn’t attend the regular weekly Town Hall. Members will be able to set each meeting’s agenda and periodically introduce policy proposals into the Catalyst Circle for consideration. The ‘minimal functional group’ is the bootstrapping version, based on consultations with leaders within the Catalyst community and Governance Alive, an expert group in the field of novel governance structures.

As trusted best practice is established, the Circle might grow and divide. Maybe the future has many ‘Circles’? Ultimately, it will be up to members to advance our goal to legitimise decentralized governance, paving the way for an alternative to the status quo, and continuing to break new ground in building the future of blockchain governance.

The Project Catalyst weekly Town Hall takes place each Wednesday at 18:00 UTC. Everyone is welcome to join. To learn more and get involved, be sure to join the Project Catalyst innovation community and its dedicated Telegram channel.