Life at Status
Welcome to #lifeatstatus. It’s going to be a wild ride.
But Status is also more than a product, it is an experiment in organization. – Jarrad Hope
None of us truly knows how our future will look. It’s easy to overlook in all the flurry of productivity that what we are trying to do has never been done. We are operating in pretty much unchartered territory, trying to:
- Create a Public Good that has not been made before
- Transition our governance model to being decentralised and autonomous, and
- Build a community around a movement.
We’re still figuring out how we balance these things.
You are confused, so is everyone else, we are all confused together.
Status is a world of super smart and purpose-driven people, experimenting with ideas and concepts that are revolutionary. You may quietly feel like you, and you alone, are the sole confused one in the room, but don’t worry, we are all muddling through this. Don’t be afraid to say that you… just simply don’t get it. We’re here to help you make sense of this chaos.
“It’s not you, it’s everyone!” - Don’t assume that everyone else has the answer, it’s a hard problem space and most people are also trying to figure things out, that’s OK.
Ultimately, anything written about the Status core contributor experience is likely to not come even close to capturing the full picture in all its complex and confusing glory, and anything that does get committed to print may soon become outdated, so the living breathing oracles of Status that are your co-contributors are a great resource for finding your way round:
Take time to orientate yourself, don’t rush, and spend time in your first few weeks really connecting with the people you’re working with, as they are the best and most up-to-date sources of information and help that exist.
Why was Status created?
To ease the transition to a more open mobile internet.
To help anyone, anywhere, interact with Ethereum, requiring no more than a phone.
To foster links with the wider Ethereum DApp community and showcase what the ecosystem has to offer.
Curious about our history? Check out Jarrad & Carl’s State of Us podcast, and read more about how Status got its name.
Now, that word might not have much meaning to you - it might even sound like a buzz word - but in our context, Decentralization has the potential fundamentally to change the way we organize socially and to rebuild the Internet as it was originally imagined - a commons for innovation. By decentralizing all the things, we are changing the very foundation of civilization, providing a new infrastructural base that impacts everything else above, from our greatest institutions to our daily social interactions.
We’re building a community around Status, and are keen to involve anyone who wants to learn about, or contribute to, our efforts. This starts with a mindset shift from core contributors as “internal” to Status, and all others as “external”, to anyone being part of the community as they choose. Our ways of working should as far as possible be structured to be inclusive, open, and inviting. This hasn’t always been the case in the past, we’ve looked a lot like a closed company and haven’t always lived up to our aspirations there, but we’re slowly making changes bit by bit, e.g.:
- Moving from Slack to Status Desktop for secure, private, open messaging
- Creating new pathways into Status for people interested in contributing (e.g. Advocacy Program, creating technical docs, etc.)
We’re currently not yet ready to open the floodgates to permissionless participation, and there’s a bunch of deliberate thought and planning that needs to go into this for security and user experience purposes, but we’re building this up bit by bit. We’ll need processes, and consensus on how we blur the lines between core contributors and others. Each team at Status has been tasked with creating their own interpretation of the Principles, and also thinking about how they would include community members in their work.
We are not currently, but aspire to be, a DAO. We’re slowly experimenting with tools, governance structures, and ideas to get us there, and we don’t know when this work will be done. This impacts more or less everything we do in terms of Status’s organisational design, and how decisions are made regarding how we work. Read up on how DAOs function and get familiar with things like skin in the game, idea meritocracy, our voting DApp, cryptoeconomics, and multisig wallets.
Folks who are salaried employees, or longer-term contractors holding services agreements with Status, are core contributors. Anyone in the community who gets involved with Status in any way is a contributor. We tend not to use the term employees as this reinforces a barrier to inclusivity that we want to break down in making Status truly an open source project.
“Company” tends to evoke legacy entity structures, so we use organisation as an umbrella term to describe our dispersed group of Status contributors.
Think of a DAO as less of an organisation and more of a collection of smart contracts between individuals.
Read all the books on the reading list + Swarm-wise! Have one on one video calls with people as often as possible. Spend a good chunk of time everyday learning, without a direct boss or someone telling you what to do the first thing is learning how and where to be of value. That takes knowing the organisation and the people inside it very well.
Most important to us is that Core Contributors understand what we’re trying to achieve, care about and model our principles, and are kind to one another. We hope that everyone will recognise each others’ achievements, but also own their own failures (e.g. the Wall of Shame) so we can make them a learning moment for everyone.
We’re always on the lookout for amazing contributors, and we’re hiring very deliberately and carefully to find only people who are aligned with our values and objectives. If you think you know of someone, feel free to chat to the hiring team (@bf @jb @harry kang) about their options - you may just bag yourself a referral bonus in the process. Win!
What’s the operating model?
Status operates a flat hierarchy, and we recently removed “people leads” in an effort called Project Flatten, which aimed to reduce arbitrary hierarchy and centralisation. You won’t have a line manager or supervisor, but you may work in a team or many teams that have a project lead. Project leads are accountable for work deliverables, but are not people managers in the traditional sense - they don’t make hiring/firing decisions, award compensation increases, nor manage appraisals.
How does career progression here work?
In the absence of upwards promotions, we think of career progression as lateral skills and experiences gained. We are supportive of contributors attending conferences, taking courses, and buying books to chart their own learning curve. We’re also open to organising and investing in training and resources that contributors feel would be worthwhile, so do let People Ops know what you would like to see.
Ask questions, be involved in discussions, share your opinion, try to communicate as much as possible
Many of our contributors have worked remotely in previous jobs, but this may be your first remote gig. There’s plenty to say about how best to be effective as a remote worker, but our best brief advice to you would be to:
- Share progress updates on your work early and often
- Over-communicate and make your thinking explicit
- Get familiar with how to handle a high volume of data to parse - have a system for what to skim, and what needs your attention
- Set your work boundaries and aim to create a healthy buffer between your work and personal time
- Build a network of trusted coworkers to mitigate against isolation
- Set yourself up with a productive workspace. If you need a coworking space to make this work, that’s fine too.
Office buildings, working hours, company holidays? We don’t have any - you create your own.
Take as much time off as you need, and work the schedule/hours that are most productive for you. We want you to be happy and empowered to make your own decisions over where, how, and when you work, so it’s not something that we’ll get actively involved in.
Deciding what to work on
You’re free to contribute to Status in any functional area or capacity you see fit. If you think you can add value and help Status along in its mission, jump in and get involved.
You’ll most likely have been hired under a specific functional role, and our expectation (initially, at least) is that you produce deliverables in that area. That said, your role can and and might evolve, and that’s fine too - we don’t want anyone to be stuck in a rigid role when they can have impact in other places. For that reason, we don’t have an attributed org chart, and the job titles we assign to contributors are not meant to be seen as a limitation of scope.
When you first join, you’ll have a couple of initial projects scoped out for you by your team to get you going, but beyond that, you’re expected to define your work and hold yourself accountable to it. There’s a huge amount of autonomy involved, and no one will tell you what to do, nor give you granular detail about what’s expected of you. Ideally you’re the kind of person that finds that thrilling, and not too terrifying.
If you see a project or initiative you’d like to get involved in, drop into the channel, start chatting, and seek out the project lead and let them know you’re interested. They can help you get involved. As we move towards a DAO, more tasks could become bountified, i.e. they don’t require permission to participate, and could be listed centrally and available to grab (by anyone), compensated according to output, in crypto. In addition, contributors can bring ideas to the DAO and seek funding to carry those ideas forward, so being comfortable with taking initiative and advocating for your ideas now will set you up well for future interaction with the DAO.
We encourage you to ask for feedback from other contributors you work with on an ongoing basis, so you can sense check if the work you’re doing is impactful.
We see people struggling with these so often, we thought they deserved their own heading. In no particular order, here are some of the most common concerns we hear from Status core contributors:
Impostor syndrome - “In an organisation full of smart people, I feel like a fraud here”
We can understand why you feel this way, but rest assured, the people you are looking up to likely feel the same. We hear this from so many people - it’s not easy being surrounded by smart people, let alone smart people who frequently discuss topics that are so new and cutting edge. Don’t panic. Over time, peer recognition and feedback should bear out the impact of your contributions to Status and give you a more objective data point about how you’re really doing here (versus any self-doubt). Feel free to talk to any of your team mates or People Ops about your doubts or concerns, we’re here to reassure you and help you!
Psychological safety - “I’m afraid to make mistakes, or speak up if I have any questions”
No one wants to look incompetent, that’s totally natural. Mistakes will always happen. Some f*ckups are more epic than others. Regardless how bad it gets, just know that we have each other’s backs, and as long as we can make some positives out of a mistake (learn from them and not make them again), they’re not the disaster they may immediately seem when they happen.
On speaking up - many people report feeling scared to say they don’t understand something. Just know that we’re all here to help each other, and there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Chances are if you’re asking it, someone else is wondering about it too.
Core project teams
This is a moving target, but our latest core project team structure looks like this. Note that functional role groupings do not determine how project teams are composed. Project teams get establishes as needs arise, and evolve as work gets done.
We used to make more use of swarms, but these have fallen out of common use (you can see our early thoughts on organisational design here). That’s not to say that swarms won’t make a return at some point.
Do not hesitate to ask questions to anyone you meet about anything. It is the quickest way to get oriented once you start.
Be prepared to iterate; don’t be afraid to experiment and fail. Recognize that every single one of us feels like everyone else is smarter or more productive than oneself. There are no dumb questions, we’re all here to share our knowledge, to teach, to learn.