A Working Group for the Personal Data Locker

At 20|30, we are starting a project to build a platform for the future world of work. We don’t think it looks much like today’s world of boards, executives, managers, departments, full-time employees, and all the dysfunction and dissatisfaction that comes with it. 

Employee Satisfaction
I often ask my workshop audiences: “What’s the opposite of employee satisfaction?” They say “Employee dissatisfaction,” and i say no, it isn’t, because satisfaction comes from people doing rewarding work, enjoying working with colleagues, and being recognized for their contribution. On the other hand, according to Frederick Herzberg, employee dissatisfaction comes from hygiene factors: how your boss treats you, where you are in the pecking order, whether anyone listens to you, how much you get paid, your office furniture, etc. So these two things - satisfaction and dissatisfaction - have completely separate causes. The opposite of employee satisfaction is really no employee satisfaction. 

Most organizations have some combination of low satisfaction and high dissatisfaction, and that’s what we want to fix with this project. It’s an evidence-based approach to finding what works. That’s what makes it so risky, because we are challenging several deeply held beliefs about companies and workers.

We want to build a system that matches people and companies based on purpose. We believe that over the next 20 years, the world of work will shift from 70 percent full-time employment to 30 percent full-time. The rest will be contractors. So we want to create a system that gives corporations the workers they need and gives workers the stability they would like. 

First, the workers: we want to build a community of workers who can find and help each other in the spirit of collaboration. As opposed to LinkedIn, we want workers to be in charge. The principles for workers are: 

  • Purpose matters - we need to believe in your purpose and mission before we work for you. 
  • We want to own our own data, so we can’t be monetized by anyone but ourselves. 
  • We want the project to be open source, so it can’t be bough by Microsoft. 
  • We want a fair chance at work, rather than having to game the system. 
  • We want to have flexibility and commit only for weeks and months, not years. 
  • We want life balance, learning, and mentoring.
  • We want to work for different employers, to prevent overdependence. 

Next, the employers: Our goal is to find and engage with employers who are in business for purpose, not for profit. This eliminates 99 percent of employers. For the one percent of employers who are interested in hiring our community of amazing workers, you’ll have to fill out an application. We want to understand your purpose and see evidence that your people live it every day. Then you’ll be able to put a project contract or contest on our platform and let people who are aligned with your purpose collaborate with your people in a two-week sprint. At the end of two weeks, the company and workers can decide how to go forward. In many cases, we expect a continuous stream of one- or two-week sprints that bring independent and corporate workers together and keep them on track. The boundaries are meant to be blurry, so people can cross easily from full-time to contract. 

The main inspiration for this project is a book called Joy, Inc., by Richard Sheridan. At his company, Menlo Innovations, they don’t look at resumes or interview anyone. They try people. The entire company works on a one-week sprint cadence, and their customers do, too. The Kanban system they’ve built is so successful that people come from around the world to take tours of their office, see their system in action, and attend seminars and workshops. 

We believe the new world of work looks something like this, though we’ll need to design a flexible system and learn as we go. This project got its start more than ten years ago as the personal data locker. Now it’s coming to life as a 20|30 project. 

By the People, for the People
It’s very important that this new community is owned by its members, not by a company. It will be 100% community owned, which will prevent any company from ever buying it. It will be an open-source platform, and we expect that platform to have its own business model. It will be a kind of DAO - a decentralized autonomous organization - and all profits will go to the token owners. We plan to sell the tokens in phases, as we build the project and launch new parts, according to the road map we’re working on now. As with several other crypto-based projects, the people who volunteered early got many tokens that later became very valuable - we hope the same will happen to our token. 

Building Our Core Team
We have a draft white paper, but before we can raise money for this project, we need a good team and a great white paper. We need a working group consisting of experts in technology, software, governance, token-based ecosystems, open-source, and the future of work. We especially need an enthusiastic small team of architects and developers who can work together to build the MVP. 

We have our own channel in the 20|30 Slack, where we are researching, brainstorming, and discussing what it should be. We hope to have a core working group together by June. Then we’ll roll out a web site, a manifesto, and start growing our base toward launching an ICO in the fall. 

We hope a small number of very sharp thinkers and coders will join us on this journey to the future of work. If you are intersted …

Please join our Slack and look for the #personal-data-lo channel.