Fanny Lakoubay, Co-founder, Blockchain Art Directory 2.0
📜 Course Description
📚 Readings (optional)
🗝 Key learnings
A few thoughts from the conversation with Vincent:
- Internal training is key as well for the whole organization and finding the right way to reach the attention of the stakeholders (this is important for the success and the long-term success of the project)
- Start with the right questions internally (why and how the Web3 project makes sense in the current organization)
- There is no magic recipe but storytelling and giving the right examples is key
- Validating the idea for all stakeholders is a long and custom process for each organization to go over the fears and misconceptions
- Context is very important and timing might be the decisive factor Set clear expectations and KPIs (what does success look like) - make sure that the whole organization has a bass knowledge and understanding of this
How to introduce the project to your colleagues and boss?
We are joined in this session by Vincent Gaudissart at Cryptonomic, who has many years of experience in supporting clients with integration, deployment, and tooling services. More recently he applies this knowledge to Tezos-centric blockchain applications. In addition to developing a full suite of products and libraries for the ecosystem, Cryptonomic’s core competency lays in supporting institutions, companies, and individuals with decentralized concept and product development, and prototyping POCs for clients who are reacting to regulations around technical innovation within Web3.
This might be realized by delivering on a feature request for future ad revenue in the shape of an NFT, or by assessing a smart contract and responding with a blockchain architecture review. As innovation increases in this space, so too does the potential for cross-collaboration between previously infrequent partnerships — such as business, technology and art. Due to the inherent nature of a nascent technology in a young ecosystem, the types of relationships Cryptonomic develops with its clients must account for the multiple types of teams and various levels of knowledge clients might have in this space. This dynamic indicates that there is an invaluable yet underrated missing link to nurture, between a Web3 knowledgable group and the non-tech, business, and ‘other’ group.
A practical format to kick-off and internally communicate a Web3 project
First, larger institutions might start with one big, generic, typically long meeting, where the blockchain integration expert will go through the most basic concepts, such as how blockchain is already working for similar markets and across industries. The meeting moves to a lengthy question and answer format to sufficiently tease apart concepts, build knowledge, and to better align on expectations. Once these details are ironed out, the workload is broken down to small groups or committees. Collaborators should also be ready to do their homework, and flesh out a comprehensive proposal on the topic they are looking to engage in. The blockchain integration team then responds with materials on this topic, and conducts a debrief session with the client reviewing outstanding pain points. Once the strategy is fleshed out, the execution phase can begin; this is done, either with integrating a blockchain-based application to a client’s front-end or by solving the entire full-stack requirements in-house.
Just because it technically can be done, does it mean it should be done?
Companies, institutions, and individuals are still exploring whether or not this technology makes sense to their particular set of circumstances. As is the case in any endeavor, advocates pleading stakeholder buy-in of a technical solution — especially one as complex as a decentralized one — must demonstrate the added value of the application. In the case of Web3 in arts & culture, it might be galleries convincing artists to use their platform rather than minting, selling, and managing the NFTs alone, or convincing a larger set of stakeholders to use NFTs as an extension of an artwork, beyond what a physical piece can provide. More convincing yet might be pleading the case for community building, since more adopters and builders means more assets on-chain.
How do we source a support layer of stakeholders to validate ideas from a more general audience before deciding to build?
Big institutions are themselves trying to convince their set of stakeholders to build on a blockchain. There is a lot left to do to identify regulation around the industry, so performing a risk assessment against those projects before validation is critical. Stakeholders involved in managing the project need to make sure due diligence has been done for transitioning from Web2 solutions to Web3. Take a former client for example, who failed to pitch the tokenization of cab tables (lists showing who owns what) to his set of stakeholders. Of course, using a certificate of authenticity and user agreement mechanisms to validate information on-chain, as was part of this auditable solution, is a perfect use-case for blockchain. While the client was (rightfully) convinced of its potential, the proposal was made back in 2019, where the hype was a lot less real and the perceived risk was a whole lot higher. Only now in 2022 is the company moving to examine the business case again. The takeaway is, context is key, and timing can account for a great deal. That being said, companies don’t wait for Web3 to arrive.
How is the process of integration or development from a Web2 layer to Web3 internally communicated?
The look of the application, or what is referred to as front-end, is the easy part. UX/UI developers and design teams will already have a solid application of the Web2 layer necessary for most builds. The layer responsible for the Web3 components of a project relies mainly on the back-end. Portions of the back-end will be integrated into the build, or the entire process will be handled in-house through a network of collaborative partners. However, there is often difficulties arising due to a scarcity of skills in the Web3 market. What’s more than having enough people knowledgable on any blockchain is keeping them, as they are free to be choosy with the project they engage in since resources are so few and demand is so high.
How to train and onboard internal Web2 users into Web3? How can blockchain companies be responsible and train their set of stakeholders?
Collaborative partnerships that lend themselves towards onboarding adoptees into blockchain do occur, but it can be difficult to assess and subsequently train for the baseline knowledge required and handover processes can become complex and linger in asynchronous cross-communication. Of course, to the extent that entities have time and space, taking the time to follow-up and provide after-care is important in continuing in functional working relationships. Having a tight community makes quick collaboration a rare asset, but it also spreads the workload managed by a smaller pool of contributors quite thin.
What if it all goes wrong?
Take Guerlain as an example, which launched NFTs on Tezos... and nothing sold. Web3 is new, not only on the client but also on adoption side, and especially now in the crypto winter-summer storm of May 2022. What if it just doesn’t work? The idea is to set expectations early. Ask yourself what could fail and what could go wrong. It can be difficult to predict market signals generally speaking, but the contributions of new topics in this space quickly exacerbates complexity, and oftentimes failure can be put down to a lack of understanding by underestimating that complexity. Clients should be communicated with clearly on what is feasible, expectations should be set clearly and managed early, and entities in support roles in service to a broader ecosystem must also be clear in the boundaries they set for lending their capacity and resources. Divisional departmental accountability must also be acknowledged. Issues could exist within the technical developmental decisions of Web3, certainly, but a project flop could also be due to poor marketing, poor timing, or worse yet, bad intentions of an actor — for instance, adoption of NFTs for a cash grab’s sake rather than true community building within Web3 in arts & culture.
How might it all go right?
Cultural institutions, companies, and people need to see decentralized applications as an extension of what they do already. Industries arriving to this space have a change to take on a different dimension. An easy and near universal convincing argument in adopting blockchain might be as simple as: this is a tool to tap new markets and grow our community — which is almost always an exciting goal. Blockchain facilitates growth in real-time, crucially doing so through interaction. But the fact remains, pre-conceived notions put out by publications and commentators of what this technology is and isn’t, can hurt reputations, both those of the collaborators’ and the blockchain itself. Set clear objectives and key learning outcomes early by educating internal stakeholders on what success looks like, so they might have that knowledge ready to share with others. Understanding the mechanisms of operations behind the scenes gives much more explanatory power in assessing the risk of Web3 projects. For instance, the media might understand the phenomena of whales and hastily warn their audience of blockchain, pointing to the fact that since whales own plenty of the tokens they are also enabled to buy big chunks of assets on-chain - making a complete sell-out within seconds possible. But they may also be criticized in grossly overestimating risk, since a) certain mechanisms designed to prevent this from happening can be built into the smart contract, and b) pointing to examples of bad actors and cash-grabs as the only data point neglects the multi-year blockchain initiatives some brave institutions and traditional industries have already committed to.
Remain communication-platform agnostic
Even when communicating internally, it is advisable to take a decentralized approach to which platforms are used to communicate; remain flexible and open to others’ preferred methods of communication as well. Understand that information flows through various streams, so moderating chats, emails, and other platforms can also work to grow a knowledge base. Within the Tezos ecosystem, we develop, upgrade, ad do everything on testnet before going to production on mainnet. This one-two model is self-contained on-chain of course, so all code is tractable and auditable, but what’s more, when you can’t solve a coding issue you can go to the Tezos development slack channel and get an answer right away. Integrating various social platforms can lead to great leaps in collaboration at various levels, and keep the conversation alive and open.