MGRC candidates teamwork questions


Hi All,

With the deadline soon approaching for selecting the inaugural MGRC, it’s time for ZCAP members to think more about the composition of the MGRC and how the current candidates work might work together.

Personally, I have read a lot of the applications and most are really great. However, many of the candidates have probably never met each other, let alone worked together in a professional capacity and it’s unclear how the current set of candidates might mesh together in different configurations. This lack of information is making it very difficult for me to figure out what combination of 5 people to choose.

I have the following questions to try to gauge perhaps how the candidates might work together:

  • What tools/frameworks do you use to collaborate in your current work environment?
  • What kind of actions/support make a team function successfully?
  • Have you had previous experiences of being put together rather arbitrarily in a team before? If so, how did you manage?
  • If you were elected to the MGRC, what processes and frameworks would you attempt to set in place in order to allow frictionless collaboration between the members of the MGRC?
  • How will you go about managing disagreements between 1) yourself and another MGRC member and 2) other MGRC members with each other?

Great point & set of questions. Here’s my thoughts.

-Im currently using Keybase teams, Discord, & the good old fashion conference call. Also familiar with Zoom & Microsoft teams.

-Proper team resources in place & open communication channels are the first to come to mind.

-My day job in freelance television involves me being put together arbitrarily with new peers on every gig. I find that in that scenario what makes it work is the fact that there is a common goal for everyone, get on the air. If the MGRC can come to the most basic common goal of improving the Zcash ecosystem, then successful collaboration is possible.

-I think having a Notion/Roam “hive mind” style collaborative document would be perfect for MGRC. Also set in place collaborative + personal goal setting with member accountability. Encourage members to “pair off/teamup” with each other if certain applications are of interest to multiple members.

-1) mediate with the other members who aren’t in disagreement & 2) other members mediating with myself.

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have a long history of working with decentralized teams, including within the cryptocurrency industry, starting with primecoin in 2013. in a very basic sense MGRC will be doing almost the same work i helped do with XPM before the process was automated via prime4commit. also worked with other projects, and never had any problems. i don’t hold grudges, understand everyone including myself are not perfect, and often have different visions. i’ve always been pretty good at finding middle/common ground with other players. side note - i’m not seeing any MGRC applicants that i don’t think i could work with.

  1. I use all kinds of platforms for communication, looking at my home screen I have Hangouts, Zoom, Discord, Keybase, Slack, WebEx, Telegram, and Signal.
  2. Key to getting along with co-workers is communication and understanding.
  3. In my day-job I get new employees working for me several times a year. There’s always a adjustment period of a week or two but after that they know where you stand.
  4. MGRC will be in a unique situation where there is no established “way of doing things” so the first thing to get out of the way will be to choose two or three channels for communication (ie: Discord, Email, Hangouts)
  5. I don’t know of any applicants that I would be worried about getting along with. Many are long time respected members of the community, else they probably wouldn’t be elected to the committee in the first place.

Hi Mikerah,

I use #allthetools (slack, discord, signal, telegram, ip over avian carrier. Confluence, gDocs, equal parts git and powerpoint. #besttoolforthejob. strong preference for making progress / solving problems asynchronously. Meetings only as a last resort.

Being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see things from their perspective, and then working constructively to find the middle ground. Meetings without actions and follow up are useless. Strong focus on accountability. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Trust is granted at genesis, but lost if follow through is missing or moral compass is miscalibrated.

Jury duty. Felony assault case in Denver, while I was self employed as a security consultant and breadwinner for our family. Had to first accept that I was going to be out of pocket (from my business) for a prolonged period, and then work proactively to find common ground and an ability to communicate effectively with a group of folks that was a motley crue. My background as a martial artist gave me a unique (and unpopular) perspective on this jury that made me want to take the easy road and just go with the flow and the groupthink. After two weeks locked in a room with 11 other folks, we came to consensus (in the meatspace sense of the word), and along the way I had the opportunity to educate my peers about jury nullification. Not a fun fortnite, but civic duty fulfilled. The key to getting to a positive outcome was being able to see things through the eyes of my peers, and then work to find common ground iteratively.

I’d propose that the group first meet for an extended “offsite” (which will likely need to be virtual). I’d propose contracting a coach (aka a professional facilitator) to help “gel” the group and build connective tissue, which we’ll need when the going inevitably gets rough. I would seek to hire or contract (via ZF, but funded by MGRC slice) an admin/project manager (using MGRC funds) to be heads-down full time on MGRC, and focus on sourcing, vetting/diligence and oversight. I’d encourage the MGRC members to use a framework (such as OKR) to set goals for the group, and to establish both group and individual accountability. Finally, I’d encourage MGRC to establish a schedule 12 months out for MGRC to convene and make key decisions, and to provide transparency and accountability metrics to the community.

I’m a big fan of deep breaths, “save as draft”, and “look at this through their eyes” as primary conflict management tools. I grew up on IRC, and believe that while chat is a fantastic medium for getting stuff done, tone can be hard to read and things can quickly get out of hand. It’s common for me to say “hey can we talk about this voice real quick?” when I have a sharp or “off” interaction with a colleague, and I believe that a quick voice call or hangout or whatnot can go a long way to resolving problems that otherwise could escalate out of control quickly over a pure chat medium. If we end up with an MGRC member that is not pulling their weight or isn’t consistently constructive, I’d address my concerns with their contributions 1:1 initially, pulling in support from other MGRC members along the way as necessary to come to a constructive resolution.




I currently work for myself, I mainly use opensource tools that are easy for me to modify and easy for my clients to use.

I use MantisBT for bug tracking and workflow, DocuWiKi for information sharing and collating things into one place. Email, Skype, IRC and discord for voice/text communications. I dont really use collaborative meeting software except for google hangouts. I am happy to work with whatever.

I also use client systems. Including things like IBM DOORS, PeopleSoft Watson, Microsoft Tactics, MS Project, MS Office Groove (the collaborative working, not the music app), github (mainly to interact with the zfnd and ecc) SVN, etc.

I think it is worth noting here that the MGRC will live and die by its ability to communicate. this is the number one risk point.

It really needs effective communication between

  • the MGRC itself,
  • the MGRC and the community (via these forums amongst other channels),
  • the MGRC and the ZFND
  • the MGRC and the Applicants
  • the MGRC and the ECC.

and various combinations of the above. Each of these will probably require the MGRC to interface into a different system, it is imperative we avoid duplication of work and keep track of information when doing this. An ability to pick up and adapt to new ways of working is a must too. I know this will seem like kicking the can, but I really think we need to see who gets elected and how they want to work together. I, and other candidates, seem to be very flexible in this regard.

In my experience the best kind of actions/qualities to ensure good functional working relationships are respect, understanding/empathy and confidence. With these, personal differences can be respected and not cause issues.

When you are not communicating effectively then the problems start, and until you can get effective communication you are not going to get anywhere. I believe professional differences of opinion are a good thing. it helps keep people on their toes and promotes a more diverse set of opinions, which promotes a more considered opinions. This is a very good thing. This is the key to a successful team.

I particularly like @alchemydc’s idea of getting a coach to help the candidates gel. (I wish I had thought of it to put in my application.) - I will certainly be advocating for it.

All the applicants are all from very different backgrounds and cultures, so we need to be understanding of this when we communicate, lest the effectiveness suffer. - I have not seen any candidate act in bad faith and have no reason to believe any would. I know from experience that I use far too much “british english” in my communications, I cant help it. I do try though. but that can end up in very verbose messages which can make less sense. (and just bad spelling.)

Yes, I have been apart of such a team right here on the forums. I did not put the team together though, it self organised. I did not lead the team either, I just did what I could to facilitate smooth communication and making sure everyone got their voice heard (I am very very big on inclusivity.) This lead to a really rich and vibrant discussions. While there were no leaders, people with natural leadership did show themselves. A great example of something this rag tag team accomplished is zip 1014.

As for professional experience, I used to work as a test engineer (pen/security and normal/localisation) being sent off for 2 week to 6 month assignments onsite at clients. The as a test engineer you need to integrate very quickly into the development team. It is your job to explain how and why things are broken and that they need to do more work. This is an art in itself and requires a very high level of professionalism and effective communication.

because I cant use @alchemydc 's answer, which I think is really needed to get things running. I would like to get some kind of documentation running for how the MGRC is expected to interact - we will need collaborative workspaces, and we will need some form of support staff. I would like to identify what staff and how best to use them. I think a lot of how well we can interface with and use support staff will be based around timezones and work commitment in those timezones. I am prepared to do what i need to to ensure the best use of the MGRC’s time.

If the disagreements are a professional disagreement then I think that is a good thing. If they are a disagreement because effective communication hasn’t happened that is another thing completely

  1. To start with I would look as to why there is disagreement. My first stop is always introspection. Things like: Is it because I have said something that is just wrong, or could be taken as being wrong? Do I need to apologise or clarify my statements? Am I taking this personally rather than professionally? am I over reacting? hopefully that helps isolate what the cause of the disagreement is. Then I look to solving it, if it can be solved. Do I need to change my stance? Do i need to be more accommodating? Do I just need to let it go? I would normally now seek advice because sometimes you just cant see your own actions objectively.

  2. I find it harder to try to mediate other people than myself in situations like this. I try to ask rational questions and defuse the situation. This doesn’t always work. These types of disagreements are very common but can be made less so by people assuming others are acting in good faith and being introspective themselves.

as @shawn points out, a lot of the candidates already know each other from the dev fund process. the few new ones have put in really convincing applications, I have no concerns about working with any of them, or indeed for any of them to work with each other.

EDIT: I forgot to add in, When you have a small team like this you can run into problems if two people communicate with each other really well, but not with the rest of the team. Although it starts out small, this can lead to serious division and is something everyone needs to be aware of. Group information sharing is a very good way to combat this. Wiki’s for example.

I hope this answers your questions.

Please feel free to ask any follow up questions, I have not done enough posting as an applicant :confused:

  • What tools/frameworks do you use to collaborate in your current work environment?

Technical tools: Signal groups, Gitea issues and wikis and nextcloud for larger documents.
Processes: One-pagers, dedicated review meetings and a commitment to passing things by consensus (rather than majority vote).

  • What kind of actions/support make a team function successfully?

Setting expectations up front and meeting regularly to discuss progress towards those expectations. Identifying blockers early and ensuring that there are no information silos or single points of failure.

Documentation. Documentation. Documentation. If it isn’t documented, there is nothing to consider. Many issues are often much less contentious once written down.

  • Have you had previous experiences of being put together rather arbitrarily in a team before? If so, how did you manage?

When I worked as a security engineer/auditor I would regularly be assigned to teams I’d never worked with before with the common goal of shipping a project (securely). Those projects shipped.
I would often be invited back for additional reviews, and still maintain connections with many of the people on those teams, years later.

With freelance work I had similar experiences.

  • If you were elected to the MGRC, what processes and frameworks would you attempt to set in place in order to allow frictionless collaboration between the members of the MGRC?

I think regular meetings are essential, so are statements of intent and high level plans of operation. When meetings do occur there should be an agenda in place, and any actions should
be assigned to an individual or set of individuals with an expectation of progress.

  • How will you go about managing disagreements between 1) yourself and another MGRC member and 2) other MGRC members with each other?

If there are no disagreements on the committee, then the CAP failed to vote for an effective one.

When major (blocking) disagreements are found I would expect the involved parties to both submit high level one-pagers outlining their arguments and then a dedicated meeting to be arranged to discuss and contrast those arguments with the entire committee, and a vote taken if necessary (i.e. if consensus building fails).

This may seem rather formal, but I believe that in the case of a committee like the MGRC it is vital that concerns are documented for transparency and future publication to allow member to be held to account. Ideally I’d like to make all committee business public and accessible (if not immediately, then as soon as practically possible).


Hi Mikerah, these are really good questions.

First I should say that we might all be a bit more connected to each other than it seems! When I met @alchemydc at ETH Denver this year, we realized that we’d worked together on a campaign my previous organization Fight for the Future ran back when he was at Sendgrid. The campaign was called Reset the Net, and its goal was to increase awareness of secure communication tools and add layers of encryption to existing products, as a show of resistance to mass surveillance on the day marking the first anniversary of the Snowden revelations. That day, Sendgrid turned on encryption-in-transit for billions of emails per month! A long list of companies participated, but Sendgrid’s part in it was especially epic, so it was great to meet DC in person years later.

Soon after that, I worked with @cburniske’s colleague Joel Monegro on Fight for the Future’s (and Joel’s) first campaign site for net neutrality. I just googled it and the site Joel mostly made is still live! Their colleague Brad Burnham was a supporter of Fight for the Future and worked with us on several projects, from net neutrality, to stopping SOPA/PIPA, to a campaign called Bitcoin Black Friday that spread a positive holiday-themed story about cryptocurrency at a time when the dominant association was with crime. I went on CNBC to tell America you could buy Xmas trees with Bitcoin! (The campaign was a partnership with other folks who ran the site independently in later years, so our site is no longer up, but I’m still very proud of our logo :slight_smile: )

All of this is a long way of saying that when you’re driven by similar underlying values or a similar spirit to things in your life’s work, your social and professional worlds intersect in surprising ways. Or when they don’t and you finally meet, you often find you have a lot in common! For example, I don’t think @sarahjamielewis and I have met in person yet, but we seem to think a ton about similar things from a similar perspective. I expect and hope she’ll be elected to the MGRC, and I hope we get to meet!

So I think whatever group gets elected is far from arbitrary, and while there definitely will be different perspectives represented I expected there will be strong common threads, both in our motivations and in our aspirations for Zcash.

To respond a bit more concretely about my experience:

  • Almost all of my activism work has been in coalitions of groups, so I’m very comfortable in ad hoc groups meeting weekly outside their core teams to take on ambitious projects.
  • Back in 2017 I was a judge for an activism prize called the Rodenberry Fellowship, though that was structured more in an individual way, where each judge read some subset of applications and voted with a point system.
  • At Fight for the Future I co-created an grantmaking effort called A-Teams. In that case, we had a part-time person with experience running hiring processes in large organizations who pushed applicants through our review process and executed on our ideas to solicit more applications. That plus a weekly meeting to review applicants and refine the process was really effective for ensuring progress while the decisionmakers (my co-founder and I) were very busy with other work.

This is last example may be a good model for the MGRC: regular committee meetings (to discuss applicants at different stages, build and refine a process, and brainstorm ideas for reaching more people) with support from one or more full or part-time staff who are good at methodically working through a process and “managing up” to get the attention and follow-up they need from decisionmakers and other stakeholders.


Also, on disagreements, I expect that the disagreements will be about either what to fund or what the best process is.

Process disagreements usually get resolved by zig zagging to some kind of process that works, and it’s worth being patient because reality usually shows you the best solutions.

On decisions about what to fund, I would veto something if I really thought it was likely to harm Zcash, or harm Zcash via harming the world in some way. But if the disagreement is about whether something is likely to go well, or how well it’s likely to go, it’s important to recognize the inherent uncertainty in these decisions and try to get the best decisions overall out of the group you’re in, even if you might not agree with each one. Focusing on each person’s specific experience and where may have experience that is deeper or more tuned than your own is the key to that.


Great questions, @Mikerah ! Answers from me and @cburniske below.

We’re comfortable with most of the communication and collaboration tools that have been mentioned in this thread, but prefer to use the more battle tested ones, and specifically would ask that we not use Telegram for instant messaging (Signal or Slack preferred).

Echoing much of what’s been highlighted already but a few things we think are essential: treating others with respect and empathy, clarity on objectives and responsibilities, open lines of communication, a collaborative and constructive attitude (incl. the ability to express and defend ideas, but also to listen and take criticism/feedback), and a propensity towards converting ideas into concrete action. We also think it’s good to have an operational/administrative leader who keeps things moving while making sure everyone’s ideas receive the necessary attention from the group as a whole.

The most relevant experience here comes from our day to day work with Placeholder portfolio networks and companies, where we can control the diligence process for making an investment, but can’t control how each team/community member of a network will behave over time. When you layer in changes in leadership and other roles over the typical investment-lifespan of many years, we are arbitrarily put together with people all the time.

Regardless of the arbitrariness of the group, our goal is to operate as a benevolent contributor or mediator, depending on what the times call for. In times of friction, mediation. In more frictionless times, we serve as a constructive, thoughtful, anticipatory resource. We’re happy to assert an opinion, but also believe in allowing communities to find their own path over time without too much institutional influence.

We would focus on processes that support the actions described in our second answer. Most importantly, we’d suggest establishing basic administrative functions and accountability (first and foremost, deciding whether this role is filled by members of the MGRC or outsourced to a professional admin/manager), core objectives and responsibilities of the MGRC, a strategic work plan for the first term, and basic tools and standards of communication (incl. with ZF, ECC, and the Zcash community at large). We also think that an important initial focus should be to establish clarity on things like compensation, how the MGRC interacts with applicants/recipients throughout the grant life cycle (incl. sourcing applications and handling progress reports), how funding decisions are made and communicated, and what types of funding decisions are possible (grants, prizes, investments, etc); in short, everything relating to the core functions of the MGRC.

As far as disagreements on MGRC policies or specific grants go, our ideal is open debate and discussion, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to present their views in a welcoming environment. For deeper and/or more personal conflicts, everything starts with calm and respectful 1-on-1 communication without either party forcing their preferred form of communication or approach to resolution on others (i.e. being open to alternative paths forward, active listening, etc.). We think it’s unlikely that two or more MGRC members will find themselves in a situation where they’re unable to resolve a personal conflict on their own. But if it were to happen, getting someone to mediate the conversation would be our recommended next step. If the parties involved consider us sufficiently neutral, we would also be happy to serve that role.


Hey @Mikerah!

Here are my answers:

  • What tools/frameworks do you use to collaborate in your current work environment?
    As a community manager, I utilize Discord, Telegram, and Gitter primarily to connect with different groups in the community. I also have Skype and Slack and am starting to really like Keybase for encrypted communication. For meetings I use Google Meet/Hangouts or Zoom generally, but Jitsi has recently shown itself to be a much more functional product than it used to be. For long form discussion, a forum software like Discourse is preferred, but email works too.

  • What kind of actions/support make a team function successfully?
    Transparency and putting aside egos are the two most important things to have teams function successfully. Without those things a lot of things can fester behind the scenes and blow up when simply talking through things could have helped. A combination of instant feedback (chat rooms) and voice/video meetings on a cadence are the structures that make teams most successful.

  • Have you had previous experiences of being put together rather arbitrarily in a team before? If so, how did you manage?
    I have extensive experience participating in teams that are arbitrarily put together. My primary example is my participation in Moloch DAO, which is a grant funding DAO operating on Ethereum. Every member of the DAO gets voting shares proportional to their contribution to the DAO. Their contributions are used to fund public goods projects for the Ethereum ecosystem. I also have experience as an EIP editor (similar to a ZIP editor, but on Ethereum) where I have to work with a group of editors to make decisions about EIP approvals and issues. I would lean on this experience to help write up a proposal (in collaboration with the other MGRC members) for how grant applicants should submit their proposals and how the MGRC should decide on proposals.
    I generally consider myself a friendly person so I didn’t have much trouble managing communication and decision making with others. Many people in the cryptocurrency ecosystem are very logic oriented so as long as you are making a coherent argument there isn’t trouble if they are acting in good faith.

  • If you were elected to the MGRC, what processes and frameworks would you attempt to set in place in order to allow frictionless collaboration between the members of the MGRC?
    I have a lot of experience setting up comms infrastructure, such as chat rooms (and bridges between chat room services), so I would want to quickly talk to the other members to see what chat services they prefer. We would need a place for short form discussion (like Discord or Telegram) and long form discussion (forum like Discourse or email). Setting up regularly scheduled meetings between MGRC members would also be important because only so much can be accomplished over text.

  • How will you go about managing disagreements between 1) yourself and another MGRC member and 2) other MGRC members with each other?
    It all comes down to respectful, transparent communication and putting aside egos. Sounds cliche, but it’s true. For 1) I would try to have a private chat with the person I am having a disagreement with and speak politely, but frankly, about the situation to come to a compromise or resolution. For 2) I would talk separately to the individuals to see if I can assist in any open disagreement and serve as a mediator. I wouldn’t push the issue on being a mediator and a lot of my decision making on when and how to approach people about their disagreements will be dependent on situation.


My responses:

  • What tools/frameworks do you use to collaborate in your current work environment?

I use a bunch of different tools in my everyday life. These include Telegram, Discord, Slack, Notion and Signal. I mostly use Google Meet/Hangouts for meetings. I like email as well because I find that the exercise of attempting to precisely articulate what is in my mind forces a better framing of the issues and leads ultimately to better outcomes. I use Protonmail for confidential long form/email communications.

  • What kind of actions/support make a team function successfully?

Trust, shared purpose, subordination of self to the greater goal, and well-defined communication and conflict resolution protocols. Trust is something that needs to be built over time but it’s something that I have had experience doing several times in my professional life when collaborating with a small set of people. What is critical is to have that conversation upfront about our shared guiding principle and to build a consensus around certain well-defined rules of engagement and collaboration with that in mind. We also need to jointly agree mechanisms to monitor and drive both individual and collective accountability for deliverables (which should be defined upfront to the degree possible and iterated based on new information thereafter).

  • Have you had previous experiences of being put together rather arbitrarily in a team before? If so, how did you manage?

I have been on several start-up advisory boards in my capacity as a VC where I didn’t know the other co-investors. It turned out that they sometimes had fundamentally different beliefs about what they were supposed to be optimising for - the welfare of their funds or the Company. This occasionally led to complicated situations when these two interests seemed to conflict. I found that staying calm and returning to first principles is a useful exercise for realigning common ground when it is temporarily elusive. Being thoughtful, well-prepared and respectful is also critical when one is trying to work out tractable compromises in high-stakes environments.

  • If you were elected to the MGRC, what processes and frameworks would you attempt to set in place in order to allow frictionless collaboration between the members of the MGRC?

Initial focus should be on agreeing on the guiding principle(s), objectives and goals that we are jointly trying to optimise for the community through the MGRC. There are a bunch of things that we need to figure out upfront and lay down. These include codifying the administrative scope of work for the MGRC including individual and collective work plans, determining if and how the MGRC will interact with any 3rd parties, setting out both a 30-day and 100-day plan for the MGRC, as well as agreeing on the optimal protocol of communication for each channel - reviewing applications vs communicating with ECC/ZF vs interacting with any 3rd parties. These broad frameworks will help us as we scale the MGRC into a genuinely pro-active and productive body that reflects the voice of the community and is functional at the same time.

  • How will you go about managing disagreements between 1) yourself and another MGRC member and 2) other MGRC members with each other?

Starting from a place of practical common sense and humility usually helps. Regular introspection helps identify the root cause for beliefs and it’s important to engage in self-reflection regularly to identify situations where our biases may be guiding us consciously or unconsciously. With respect to 1), it is important to take the time upfront to get to know fellow members personally where practicable as having some goodwill in the bank can tremendously help when smoothing over tricky situations to achieve a hard consensus. The key is to listen, have open channels of communication, and to always remember that we all serve at the pleasure of the community and not for glory. It is also important to be able to ask for help from other members of the MGRC if mediation is needed. Regarding 2), I would offer my services as a mediator if I felt my particular skill sets were suitable to help solve the conflict on hand but would be mindful of not thrusting my help down people’s throats.



What tools/frameworks do you use to collaborate in your current work environment?

Video, audio, text… all via shortlinks

Prefer video for kickoff, audio for general meetings, and text for details meetings.

Fun, inclusive tools:
Video: Augmented reality video calls
Audio: Live Voice-To-Text Transcribe
Text: HackMD

What kind of actions/support make a team function successfully?

Shared Mission, Defined Scorecard, Shared Scoreboard

Have you had previous experiences of being put together rather arbitrarily in a team before? If so, how did you manage?

I join a new team when I earn a new contract. Members define their roles in light of the mission. Start with end in mind. Be transparent on the inside and be accountable to the outside.

If you were elected to the MGRC, what processes and frameworks would you attempt to set in place in order to allow frictionless collaboration between the members of the MGRC?

Inside-Out Grant Reviews using Zcash Coin Petitions. See more:

How will you go about managing disagreements between 1) yourself and another MGRC member and 2) other MGRC members with each other?

First and foremost, promote healthy debate towards a common end

Privately: one-on-one, face-to-face, z2z
Private/Public Group: Group Meeting, Message Board, Anonymous message boards
(in order of preference)