DAO, a new weapon for the war of talents: the elimination of the traditional company structure does not guarantee the elimination of traditional problems
In 2021, the office is not the only corporate building fighting for its life. The company itself is also threatened. But what replaces it may not be more fair or benevolent.
In 1997, a McKinsey analyst started a war. Well, although he didn’t actually start it, he gave it a name. In “Talent Wars”, Steven M. Hankin and others describe the future.
“The company is about to participate in a battle for senior management talent, which will become a decisive feature of its competitive landscape in the next few decades. However, most companies are underprepared, and even the best companies are vulnerable.”
In the following 20 years, the war became more intense. It not only affects “senior managers”, but almost all urban professionals engaged in non-daily work, including software engineers, project managers, designers and traders. Power seems to be shifting to workers, not to companies and their owners.
At the same time, another dynamic is intensifying: the war of talents, and efforts to regularize more work so that human workers can be replaced. This dynamic is most obvious in areas such as transportation, food delivery, and some professional services where human labor is controlled by applications and algorithms.
In the process, workers in these areas have won a certain degree of freedom and can choose to quit their jobs (by logging off Uber or not accepting rides on the app). But this comes at a price: workers have also lost the freedom to drive without being monitored and ranked, the freedom to establish personal contact with colleagues and dispatchers, and the ability to pay for their sick or annual leave. Freedom to work stably.
But the most important innovation of platforms like Uber and Taskrabbit is not the new incentives they offer workers. The most important innovation is that they can gather a large number of people under one application and make these people replaceable. When you book an Uber, you don’t care who the driver is. You step into a stranger’s car because you trust Uber, not because you trust the actual owner and driver of the vehicle.
In the context of basic service work, this dynamic does not seem to be a big deal. After all, before Uber was invented, did we know the taxi drivers we called? Do we know the handyman sent by the furniture company to assemble the cabinets? We don’t know each other.
But this dynamic has not stopped, it is developing to other more professional and personal jobs. Companies like UpWork and Fiverr enable customers to “book” design, engineering, and other professional tasks on demand. On these platforms, customers do care about specific providers, but providers are still interchangeable.
Finally, one more point is very important. It can be boiled down to the relationship between the two words “unique” and “replaceable”. This relationship is very tricky. To clarify this problem, let us explore another popular online platform, Airbnb.
One of Airbnb’s early slogans was “Belong anywhere” (Belong anywhere). The company’s goal is to provide a real, personal experience. Compared with the industrialized, biscuit-like hospitality provided by large chain hotels, Airbnb offers something unique. But Airbnb also makes it easy for customers to find the same…unique alternatives. By aggregating millions of choices, Airbnb provides customers with something unique and at the same time replaceable.
Essentially, Airbnb is industrializing uniqueness. It enables the mass market to effectively obtain a never-ending supply of unique assets.
In addition, the platform that brings together knowledge workers has done similar things. They enable companies to tap the cognitive resources of talented people, but they keep these people in fierce and continuous competition with millions of people with similar skills. Individuals who provide services on these platforms are unique but replaceable, or UBI (Unique but Interchangeable) for short.
This has become more complicated. Yes, the same is true in cryptocurrencies.
Enterprises are fighting two wars in parallel, namely the universal war on talent (the War on Talent) and the unique war for talent (the War for Talent). The key goal of the talent war is to transform U into UbI-turning unique talents into replaceable resources. The key goal of the battle for talent is to recruit people who are not easily replaced. The talent war is carried out by aggregating, monitoring and distributing the skills of workers, while the talent war is launched with higher wages and office benefits.
However, the company has begun to exhaust all benefits. The salary of top talents is at the highest level in history. The company is now offering the best office benefits: for example, choosing to work remotely and avoiding the office altogether. However, this is not enough, it will only intensify competition: because remote work can give the best employees more job opportunities than ever before, dragging employers into a bidding war.
If capitalism is a struggle between capital and labor—a struggle between investors and employees, then it seems that capital is becoming more and more dependent on a few but important workers. Tennis tables, built-in Kombucha, flexible schedules, and remote work are no longer enough to win over these workers. All these efforts are trying to make the company disappear, make the office feel more like home, make the schedule feel more casual, make everyone dress like hanging out with friends, and move the work itself to where the employees live.
But what if there is a way to truly make the company disappear? Doesn’t this appeal to the most talented employees?
Crypto provides such a way. The consequences for investors and employees are unclear.
The Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) is the “corporate” version of cryptocurrency. They enable a group of people to pool resources, work together for specific goals, and establish mechanisms to manage resource allocation and decision-making methods. DAO is owned by its members, and its rules are coded.
The specific technical details will not be expanded here (please read the relevant information), but the interesting thing about DAOs is that they can do what the company does, but not in the company’s way. This makes them more attractive to people with professional skills. Peter Yang summarized this attraction on Twitter:
- In the company, you have to apply for a job. In DAO, you just need to join and start working.
- This may sound impractical, but it has been done in many open source projects. There is an open task list that anyone can join and complete a task (code a specific “part” of an application, write marketing copy for a website, etc.). Once approved by more experienced contributors, or automatically approved by the algorithm of the verified code, the work is merged into the entire project.
- But unlike traditional open source, DAO combines ownership and participation rights. This means that anyone who contributes to the organization will receive shares or tokens, which can be converted into cash and/or used to vote on important decisions. The remuneration level of each task can be determined in advance by an algorithm, or it can be determined by voting by the members of the DAO.
- Contributors/members can socialize and get to know each other through connections on Discord, Slack or other platforms. They can also form teams or join existing groups to take on more complex (and valuable) tasks.
- But DAO is more than just a piece of freelancers. They can also hire people full-time. Members can vote to provide individuals with full-time positions. But just like in open source projects, most contributors are involved in different projects and don’t want to limit themselves to a DAO.
As you can see, DAO provides a more open and free way of working, and they are also owned by their contributors, rather than by any particular investor or “capitalist”. They are attractive because they look like the opposite of the company.
But eliminating traditional structures does not guarantee the elimination of traditional problems. Some DAO participants can quickly accumulate more income and more voting rights than others. External investors can even “support” individuals or groups that complete tasks on behalf of investors and accumulate voting rights. A committee composed of algorithms or anonymous strangers cannot be more benevolent to society and the environment than a group of traditional corporate executives. Therefore, it is possible for DAO to replicate or reproduce many problems associated with traditional companies.
But perhaps the most dangerous aspect of DAOs is that they are a new weapon in the talent war. Their open and non-corporate structure attracts the best and brightest people, and their modular working structure means that each task can theoretically be taken over by anyone who can handle it. This makes DAO very efficient in enabling unique individuals to be replaced. DAO eliminates or expands the boundaries of traditional companies to include more people – just as Airbnb expands the boundaries of traditional hotels to include more properties. This allows DAO to gather unique (human) assets while industrializing the process of extracting value from these assets.
This result is not inevitable, but maybe there is nothing to worry about. But when we design new institutions to enable people to collaborate and share resources, we need to be aware of unintended consequences. In the battle for talent, Crypto is an unconventional weapon. We need to spend more time thinking about collateral damage.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/dao-a-new-weapon-for-the-war-of-talents-the-elimination-of-the-traditional-company-structure-does-not-guarantee-the-elimination-of-traditional-problems-2/
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