I will start by saying I’m not participating in the election. I have decided a couple months ago that I don’t have the confidence that I can drive the required change in the foundation. I believe that even with a new council and ExCo the foundation will be faced with many challenges.
Since my interim presidency I have tried to fix numerous problems in the foundation but irrespective of the passion and energy I have put in I have to conclude that I failed to make a
substantial impact. There were occasions when I had more than suspicions that people were actively going against me even though I was always acting for the benefit of NEM.
I should mention that it was never the intention to act as interim president for such a long time but I was confronted with multiple problems leading to the delay in the elections.
I’m aware that many of you are disappointed in how the elections caused some issues which ultimately lead to the community asking for a POI based vote which unfortunately is not possible due to division in the council. The POI vote is a good example of what happened for multiple other decisions that had to be made. Seemingly obvious decisions either did not pass council approval or had little to no effect due to a lack of buy-in on a global level.
Most of the elections delay was caused by the membership issue. Those who followed how things developed in the past days have already received some information about that and probably wonder how all of this came about and why it took so long to resolve.
The keyword here is governance. Whatever decision was made now would have an impact not just for these elections but going forward.
Given how things turned out and how the foundation was set up I see POI as the only solution. This isn’t an opinion that recently developed but since I found out about the initial issues in the membership base.
On the other hand having a large group of voters automatically turns elections into a popularity contest which does not always result in the best governance outcome either.
When I followed up Lon Wong as interim president I was forced to continue on the course that was set for the foundation. A course that turned out to have many obstacles on its path. By saying this I certainly don’t want to put the blame in Lon’s shoes. We have to be aware that the landscape changed dramatically over the past two years and nobody would have expected things to go this fast.
Before I point out some of the problems that resulted in my decision not to participate in the election I would like to share my vision and why I believe the foundation should take a different approach.
First of all it’s important to look at where we are in the adoption curve. This is important in order to assess how much time we have left in order to get both the technology and the go to market strategy sorted out. Many of the problems are the result of opposing views with regards to the balance between speed and quality of execution.
There are a couple reasons why I believe real mainstream adoption is not about to happen in the next year and probably even longer.
We have to realise that most of us are influenced by the crypto space. We all read crypto media outlets, follow social media focussed on the crypto space etc. As a result, most of us are living in this crypto space bubble and fail to look beyond that to see how the world looks at blockchain which is quite different to how we do.
Blockchain as a technology is so disruptive that even though it has been around for quite a while the majority of people still have difficulties to envision how it will change our society as a whole. By that, I certainly don’t want to claim that I have it all figured out but I’m confident that we have not even scratched the surface of the disruption the technology will drive. It’s certainly more than dApps, fintech, supply chain and the other usual suspects. Blockchain will not only disrupt how businesses interact with each other and their customers but it will have a huge impact on society as a whole. The ability for individuals to take back ownership of their identity and data ( the digital gold ) will play a big role in this and is what motivates me to be in this space.
Contrary to some other people in the council I’m not of the opinion that we have to focus on fast growth in order to keep up with our competitors. We should certainly look at what other projects are doing and learn from that. An example is Consensys which is an interesting approach that seems to be quite effective for specific target groups. Even though the approach is different than what we are setting up with NEMsp, it also leverages on externalizing specific activities in order to be able to scale faster. Seeing
What we have to do is get ahead of our competitors and that requires a different approach than what NEM foundation has been doing.
One of the main issues in the foundation is that the majority of people working for the foundation lack fundamental in-depth understanding of the technology to be able to provide solid advice and provide insights that point out the advantage of using NEM compared to other technologies.
Upon the establishment of the foundation a choice was made to give regions a large amount of freedom and independence. I was never a fan of this approach and it proved to be a crucial mistake. As a result of this approach regions started to grow apart and are operating in silos. I identified this as an issue even before I became interim president. Therefore one of the first actions I took during my interim presidency was to setup working groups that were intended to break down the silos and start working on what should become the basis of a shared vision and approach. The working groups would let people from all regions work on specific topics to gather experience and ideas from all regions and use that to create a shared vision and approach.
Unfortunately there was not enough buy-in from most regions and this ultimately lead to the failure of the working groups (with the exception of the TECH working group which is still running).
Along with the regional independence, the foundation also lacks global organisation and management. In order to achieve this I believe it’s crucial to have a global executive layer that oversees the regions. This is something that I have proposed to the council but there never seemed to be an interest in that. Without a global executive layer and willingness of the regions to collaborate on a global scale it’s inevitable to see regions growing further apart. This leads to a lack of shared vision across different regions and ultimately fragmentation across teams.
Currently the council is (micro)managing the foundation due to a lack of global management team and policies/procedures. It’s impossible to get to a properly functioning organisation without more structure on a global level.
One of my biggest frustrations over the past half year has been to see how the majority of the regions was mainly focussed on marketing and community building. Growing teams that have little to no knowledge of the technology makes no sense. It may lead to a good lead generation ( which seems to be the primary KPI to some people ) but driving adoption requires more technical knowledge.
Our approach needs to change drastically overall. We can’t look at smart contract blockchains and copy their approach. NEM requires a different approach that starts with solutions rather than explaining our technology. Again this is a result of being too focused on what happens inside the crypto and blockchain space.
Another major issue is the culture that grew in the foundation.
Fueled by an increasing market cap last year it seems like some people lost touch with reality.
Along with that there was a lack of collaboration across regions. Some regions were developing resources ( e.g. training material ) but went out of their way to share these. It was ( is ) as if we are in competition rather than working for the same cause. The failure of the working groups is a testament of that.
Transparency is something that was not part of the culture of the foundation and although I should say that it’s something that I intended to improve it’s something that requires buy-in and effort. Since we had quite a number of conflicts in the council and as I was constantly trying to keep up with an increasing amount of issues in combination with a ridiculous amount of day to day involvement it was one of those things that unfortunately never really happened.
All of this doesn’t look good for the foundation, that’s something we have to acknowledge but success is not defined at times when everything goes well. Even if the foundation would fail it would not mean the failure of NEM. NEM is much more than the foundation.
Even though I’m not a candidate for the elections I’m still committed to help get NEM through this difficult period. After the election I will share everything with the new leadership and do whatever I can to help the new council and ExCo.
I’m also not planning on leaving NEM. Even though it may seem as if the CoE made little progress I should say that more progress was made than it appears. There is a basic plan for how to proceed and I will do whatever I can to help NEM go in the right direction.
I understand that much of this came as a shock to the community in the past weeks. At the same time these problems were there for quite some time and I should say that in the meantime some potential solutions developed too.