Advantages Of A Contributor Model For Product Development

Details on how the contributor funding model is beneficial for product development in Catalyst

In the contributor categorisation analysis the key differences between idea and contributor based proposals are outlined. The advantages and issues are explored for the usage of either model for when people are working in the Catalyst and Cardano ecosystems.

These differences with the contributor funding model highlight a number of benefits for the product development process.

Flexibility & adaptability

  • Catalyst contributors specify a skill based role for where they will spend at least half of their time when working in the ecosystem. Beyond this commitment the elected contributors have full control over where they spend their time trying to deliver impact. This means contributors can help in any part of a product development process for any part of the ecosystem that most needs it.

  • Some experiments or product changes require vastly different amounts of research, design, user input, implementation effort and analysis on the outcome. A contributor that is focussed on delivering impact can immediately respond to new information or demands from the community to increase or decrease the amount of time they spend on these areas.

  • Contributors are free to focus on a single task or multiple tasks at a time. For instance one contributor could be focussing on UI design and apply that skill across all the services in the ecosystem meaning they are part of many different tasks and product development workflows. Another contributor could be solely focussed on proposal standards and just focus on this single task of researching and analysing what makes a good proposal. Both these approaches help allow the most suited contributors to tackle the relevant tasks in each product development workflow across the ecosystem and dynamically change to where they can be most impactful.

  • Some contributors may personally prefer to use one skill set or be able to move between a number of skill sets when working through product development workflows. Contributors could find a diversity of tasks that apply the same skill set or instead take ownership of a tasks with mixed skill requirements and take it from start to finish. Giving flexibility to contributors to work across the ecosystem more easily helps them work in a way that they prefer and motivates them best.

  • The demands of the ecosystem could change very quickly and leave little room for the community to respond. Handling adverse events or quickly changing environments by being able to start and stop any product development workflow will be important to becoming a resilient ecosystem. This is another benefit of the contributor funding model where people incentivised under this model can move to where ever they are needed most. Contributors are not attached to funded ideas. The product areas that demand the most attention can receive that directed effort in a very short time frame.

Higher capacity & focus

  • Catalyst contributors helps to simplify getting paid to work in the ecosystem by offering an incentive structure to be paid for full time work for a certain period of time. This makes it very clear on the expectations of how much time to spend working on the ecosystem and for how long the contributor will be funded for. Now contributors who are working through ideas for a product development process would not need to spend the time trying to accurately cost estimate all the of tasks and ideas like they would if they had to make idea based proposals.

  • Contributors save time by not needing to go through the idea based proposal process and can instead focus more of that effort on gathering feedback from the community, research and analysis and implementation of new product developments.

  • Some changes to the Catalyst process will likely be extremely complex and have a number of tradeoffs. In these cases it will be beneficial for a wide range of contributors to have had enough capacity to really understand the problems and different suggestions for improvement before giving both honest and well informed feedback.


  • Submitting a proposal as a candidate to become a contributor covers information about their contributions, skills and relevant background. After this if they are elected they only need to worry about delivering impact. This process is simple and efficient in giving contributors more time to focus on tasks in product development workflows.

  • Removing the need to create accurate budgets to make payments to multiple people from a funded idea means those involved in a product development workflow can focus more effort on the tasks in the product development workflows rather than admin overhead.

  • Contributors can be more efficient in instances where they get things wrong when executing ideas. The incentive for contributors is to deliver impact meaning if pivoting or moving to another idea will produce better impact it can be pursued immediately. If people are funded for ideas then the funding is attached to the execution of that idea meaning more of a justification has to be shared before changing what they are spending the funding on. Funding contributors allows them to respond to new information and feedback immediately and increase the speed they get through product development feedback loops. The more this is achieved the faster we should be able to find and create more robust solutions.


  • By incentivising individuals rather than ideas the contributors elected are better incentivised to work on shared goals collaboratively. To deliver the most impact efficiently contributors will benefit from sharing ideas with each other and comparing the merits of each to find better solutions. This helps to bring alignment and create similar product development workflows rather than siloed processes in separated teams.

  • Focussing on individuals over ideas helps to increase the opportunity for a large amount of people collaborating on a single problem. Achieving this in a collaborative manner will increase the diversity of thought and potential suggested solutions to consider.

  • The Catalyst ecosystem will benefit from alignment in certain areas of the product so that process and systems are more interoperable, open and easy to work with rather than having siloed teams each with their own product, separate technical infrastructure and isolated product development processes. Incentivising contributors can help with the creation of common standards that increase the interoperability of different systems and processes that are used across Catalyst.

  • Each individual in the ecosystem will bring a different set of skills, talents and perspectives to Catalyst when they become a contributor. Incentivising contributors to deliver impact helps to benefits the product development processes across the ecosystem as those skills, talents and perspectives can be applied and spread across the different product areas that would benefit from them.


  • Creating impact is not attached to creating and executing ideas. Impact can be delivered in many ways. In the product development process for Catalyst a simple example could be just the efforts to increase collaboration between communities and identify the key problems faced in the Catalyst ecosystem. Sometimes generating impact could be just helping and understanding the problems faced by newcomers who have just entered the community and funding process. Fully understanding the people, systems and processes in the Catalyst ecosystem will lead to better outcomes when working through a product development process to improve those systems and processes.

  • A contributor funding model helps to incentivise individuals and give them more flexibility, adaptability, focus and capacity to work on understanding and solving core problems in the Catalyst ecosystem.

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