Gravity: Conflict management and trust creation in Web3.
Originally posted at our medium page
Let’s imagine a startup moving along, developing successfully, and then a disagreement occurs between its founders, leaving their shared mission at a crossroads. Suddenly, people working there spend their time and energy justifying their position instead of moving as a whole, contributors slow down or stop, uncertain of which direction to follow, and external supporters start to turn their attention elsewhere.
Conflict is very costly, and common to any organization. But it’s also something we are not usually very competent at, even though it keeps happening over and over again.
As restorative justice advocate Dominic Barter wonders: If you have a kitchen to prepare aliments and meet the need for nutrition, why don’t you have a dedicated place to talk about complex issues safely, to meet our needs for expression, resolution and transformation?
Gravity is a framework for communities, especially DAOs, to process conflict in an effective, compassionate, non-rivalrous way. It supports meaningful communication processes where parties can make amicable decisions that lead to win-win scenarios.
- Help projects and organizations save resources on coordination issues.
- Allow effective management of conflicts.
- Facilitate the individual well-being of community/organization members.
- Care for the public image of an organization, providing discretion and confidentiality.
- Train people in skills to manage communication and emotions mindfully.
While decentralized technology is revolutionary and can certainly improve human coordination, smart contracts alone are not sufficient for creating the non-rivalrous world we desperately need. The technology will inevitably reflect the values of their builders, and we don’t want DAOs to continue repeating the practices of violence that we see in our current systems.
One key component of Gravity’s efforts towards trust creation is the practice of nonviolent communication. This framework, developed by clinical psychologist Marshall Rosenberg, prioritizes meeting the needs of all parties in a conflict through a communication style that focuses on describing our experiences and the associated feelings, without ascribing blame. This style of communication eases the development of common ground to foster safe and more productive environments for addressing complexity.
Our conflict management leaders are called “Gravitons.” These are people who have successfully attended 6 or more of our Graviton training sessions, committed to adhering to our ethical standards and requirements, and agreed to be part of the working group, actively fulfilling its roles.
We’ve participated right now in 22 cases, with only 4 or 5 of them boiling over into public view or exceeding our agreed management limits. Gravity offers a safe space where the specifics of a case are known only to the people involved and the Graviton who’s leading it. The information surrounding the case remains confidential, even though we keep a registry of it.
The mediation service we offer starts with an initial input that can be provided by anyone in a community that recognizes Gravity as a valid alternative dispute resolution mechanism. After this, we assign a Graviton who offers a first approach, and if necessary, maps the situation with private meetings, to prepare the space for a joint dialogue between the parties. From there, the Graviton helps the parties to find solutions and draft a voluntary agreement, following up later to ensure its compliance.
Our objective is to apply Elinor Ostrom’s Principles — number 4, 5 and 6 (“rules are enforced by effective & accountable monitoring,” “sanctions for violations should be graduated”, and “conflict resolution should be easily accessible and low-cost).
Born within the cultural build of the Token Engineering Commons (TEC), we aim to prevent frictions from tearing the precious social fabric that holds communities together. We recognize the importance of our human nature and its role in the technological revolution we are experiencing.
We have two Graviton trainings per year, in Q2 & Q4. Our next one starts SOON! So keep in the loop, because we will be publishing the study plan and circulating a pre-registration for those interested. (You do not need any prior knowledge in conflict mediation or negotiation).
Gravity does not only deals with organizational conflicts, but also cares for the mental health and human growth of the people participating in web3 projects. We see disputes as a window for prevention, and prevention as a catalyst of positive psychology and constructive conflict.
We have multiple goals on the roadmap for this year, including: a lot of continued education activities (roleplays, book clubs, practice groups), more provisioning of mediation services in multiple communities, working on our own DAOification, and leading research on web3 mental health and psychology.
We look forward to becoming one of the first users of Unbreakable Vows, a tool that encrypts and allows cryptographical signatures in mediations and private agreements. And we also aspire to become a “Schelling Point” for conflict management on web3, creating a collaborative economic design, inspired by the Commons Stack and TEC frameworks.
So, What is our call to action?
Solve conflicts peacefully. Here is a form to contact Gravity DAO direct, right now, in the event of dispute or friction in your community.
Please feel welcome to join some of our calls in the TEC server!
Follow us on Twitter: GravityDAO and Support our Gitcoin Grant.
** Thanks to Griff, Tam, Livi, Chuy, Bianca, Bends, Innov8tor, Gideon, Taxil, Juan, Durgadas, Leen, Jeremy, Forest, Dani, Zepti, Sem, Sebnem, Acidlazzer, The Whole TEC and all those who continue developing Gravity day by day.