Catalyst Circle vs Catalyst Contributors

Comparing Catalyst circle and Catalyst contributors as potential approaches to pass stewardship to and delegate authority for supporting and improving Catalyst

Catalyst circle

The initial Catalyst Circle was created to help with doing problem sensing in the Catalyst ecosystem. For the problems identified they help to prioritise them and then provide any guidance and support towards solutions to those problems led by the community. The circle was responsible for communicating these problems, solutions and all decisions to the community for feedback in a transparent manner.


  • Supports start of product development workflow - The circle has helped add some structure to the process for identifying problems and suggesting potential solutions. This has helped bring the community together on collaboration on these problem sets. Unfortunately the benefit of Catalyst circle stops at the solution suggestions stage as this is where proposals must come in to fill the gaps. This will mean inheriting the proposal based funding issues covered in the funding approaches comparison.

  • Transparent - All meetings and information around circle meetings is recorded and public to the community making it easy for people to track what is going on and what happened.

  • Community voted - The community democratically votes on who is elected into the circle. The number of participants that vote on any Catalyst Circle member decision has to date been low and should be noted as an ongoing concern.

  • Flexible - The circle members can move their attention onto other concerns quickly that helps them maximise their impact when problem sensing.


  • Lower commitment - Catalyst circle members do not need to work in the ecosystem full time which can limit the understanding they have of the ecosystem and the value they are able to provide. There is no guarantee nor direct incentive for circle members to spend the remainder of their time in the ecosystem. Part time commitment results in the potential issue of the circle members having knowledge gaps about the systems and processes involved in the ecosystem. This is an issue as Catalyst is a complex system which requires sufficient context and understanding to make well informed governance decisions.

  • Limited outcomes and execution - The circle often does not deal with implementation details and due to its small structure would also practically not be large enough to execute many solutions either.

  • Small governance size - Less than ten people are generally involved in the Catalyst Circle process. This has limitations on the availability of diverse knowledge and skills that are involved. It also will often mean that governance is less representative of the community and other contributors in the ecosystem.

  • Unreliable - Catalyst Circle is funded by proposals which results in the same complexities that come with proposal based funding. This includes unreliable funding support, budget inaccuracies and added complexity to create and justify proposal information every funding round.

  • No guarantee of any skill distribution - Anyone can apply to become a Catalyst circle member and no thresholds are put in place to ensure a diversity of skill sets are included in each cohort. This makes Catalyst circle less suitable for making complex decisions around technical and product changes to the funding process in instances where a lack of different people are involved with different skill sets.

Catalyst contributors

Catalyst contributors fixes all of the problems with Catalyst circle that are mentioned above and also improves upon most of the advantages. Catalyst contributors offers an effective path for the stewardship and delegated authority of Catalyst systems and processes to be handed over to the community.


  • Supports full product development workflow - Catalyst contributors would help with the start of the product development workflow process with problem gathering and prioritisation similar to Catalyst circle however they would also take those problems through to executed solutions.

  • Transparent - All meetings and information around Contributor meetings can be recorded and public to the community as well as any decisions that are made.

  • Community voted - The community democratically votes on who is elected into each cohort of Catalyst contributors. Using the existing voting infrastructure will mean that this community vote will be less friction with the existing process and could help encourage wider participation due to this experience being where the majority of voters interact with the Catalyst process.

  • Flexible - Catalyst contributors would use a fluid team structure meaning they can move between teams or problems to focus on the areas they would produce the most impact.

  • Full time contributor commitment - Catalyst contributor looks to pay for full time contributors. Those that are selected will spend all of their working time supporting and improving the ecosystem. This helps provide contributors with the maximum opportunity to have a higher amount of understanding of the complex systems and processes they are improving and making decisions on.

  • Effective for execution outcomes - The number of Catalyst contributors paid for by the ecosystem is determined by the budget weighting applied to the categorisation for Catalyst contributors. Catalyst contributors also uses minimum thresholds across a number of different roles with different skill sets. This diversity of skills helps create more assurances that contributors will be able to effectively execute against the priorities of the ecosystem.

  • Larger governance size - The governance size is determined by the community from the budget weighting that is voted for. This means the governance size can increase or decrease based on the communities decision on how much support and improvement is needed in the Catalyst ecosystem. Catalyst contributors would scale based on community demand.

  • Simple candidate process - Catalyst contributors is a defined funding categorisation that does not need to be submitted in every funding round if Catalyst funding categories were fully adopted. This makes the governance and operation of Catalyst contributors simple as candidates will just need to submit their proposals to apply and then the community will decide who is elected.

  • Guarantees skill distribution across cohort - The usage of minimum thresholds for certain roles creates a guarantee that there would be diversity in the skill sets available in a given cohort. This will help improve the contributors ability to execute and make well informed governance decisions based on a more diverse range of expertise.


  • The Catalyst circle has a number of issues when considering how stewardship and delegated authority of the Catalyst system and processes could be handed over to the community.

  • Catalyst contributors offers an alternative approach that improves upon many of the advantages that exist with Catalyst circle and also removes all of the issues mentioned. The advantages offered by Catalyst contributors produce a scalable and simple approach to pass stewardship and delegated authority over to the community.

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