rafa (fyi)

rafa (fyi)

“One learns by doing a thing; for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.” ― Sophocles

Rafa explores web3 collectives, combining org design theory with digital community building.

He is currently working at Mirror, supporting their community building and growth efforts. Rafa works as a Community Architect: researching and implementing digital-first operating models. His passion is to understand next-generation leadership, operations, and community management technologies.

Previously, Rafa worked as a consultant, enterprise account partner and, most recently, as a product advisor for HR technologies.

Feel free to get in contact via Twitter @rafathebuilder, or via email at rafael@rafael.fyi.

Join Rafa’s deep reading community Folklore here.

Welcome

¡Bienvenidos! I am from Puerto Rico and a generalist. I work with companies on a broad range of topics such as: commercial strategy, org design advisory, Customer Success, and community development.

Over the past few years I've been going deeper into "web3" learning about decentralized communities, "DAOs" and how smart contracts are changing the way we define and envision work.

Currently, I am helping local artisans through the non-profit Obras del País, working full time as a contributor in web3, and obsessive about the future of the collaborative creator economy.

If you'd like to support local artisans, feel free to donate on our website. You can contact me via Twitter.

Explore the Work
About me

Here you can find information about me, a short bio for events, as well as an overview of previous and upcoming work.

Background

Currently, I work full time as a core contributor, writer, and operations specialist for multiple digital-native organizations ("DAOs") and am the founder of Obras del Pais, a local initiative in Puerto Rico supporting artisans in the transition to digital commerce.

My work navigates and addresses the challenges at the intersection of community, technology, and organizational development. In addition, I work as a coach for community-centered start-ups and as an advisor for selected clients.

The focus of my work stems from a nagging question that I have not been able to let go for almost 15 years: ‘How do organizations work?’. The question was first uncovered while counting screws at my uncle's hardware store. (Ask me about the story!)

The exploration of this questions has led to work in a wide range of sectors: FMCG, financial sector, manufacturing, SaaS and pharmaceuticals. The work has also taken me across the US and to many continents (Europe, Indonesia, Japan, Australia).

Throughout my career I have come to the conclusion that transient collaboration between individual workers will form a large chunk of the future economy. This hypothesis forms the basis of my work approach and strategic vision.

Previously, I worked at multiple HR software companies, spent some years as a commercial strategy consultant, and graduated from university with a Bachelor's degree in Engineering.

In my spare time I enjoy reading science fiction, writing, and training for triathlons.

Working Style

The companies and teams I’ve had the privilege to work with have nurtured a specific working style which has driven consistent success:

  • Prioritize subject-matter expertise and empathy
  • Embrace the networked world: immerse yourself, experiment and double-down on wins
  • Have a strong bias towards action, non-stop curiosity and collaboration
  • Above all else, help others succeed
Bio for Engagements

You can use the following generic bio for introductions, conference programs, etc.

Rafa is an active community builder and independent consultant. He is best known for his dynamic partnership approach, experience in organization design and knowledge of trends in workforce structures.

Most recently, he has joined the web3 movement as a core contributor for multiple digital-first organizations. Rafa supports online communities with operations, membership structures, and writing. He is also the founder of the Obras del País, a novel content company supporting local artisans in the Post-COVID digital-first world. Previously, he worked as a consultant advising clients on commercial strategy and as an Customer Engagement Leader for multiple HR software organizations.

Contact
How to DAO Series (Ongoing)
Other Work (Articles, Podcasts, Webinars, Poetry)

External Profiles

Thread of Threads

Work in Progress

Other Writing about inspiration, web3 and HR

Podcasts and Presentations

Webinars

🌑
Becomings (Poetry)
Community Service: Obras del País

In February 2020, I took an 8 month career break. At that point I was unaware of the upcoming pandemic and its consequences. During the summer (July 2020) I decided to find a way to connect and give back to my community, especially trying to help those struggling with their businesses. I immersed myself in the history of Puerto Rican artisans and found some new interesting questions:

Why were high-quality artisans of the Island struggling?
Can we help artisans partner with digital creators in a win-win scenario?
Could we address discoverability and value communication issues?

As a result of these questions, I founded Obras del País, with a focus on creating a self-funding business which promotes local artisans. The project vision, approach, and solutions are based on >100 hours of field interviews with artisans and local administrators.

The initiative's mission consists of:

  • Providing a free content creation service to 100 artisans
  • Funding the work through 1,000 true-fans as subscribers
  • Finding 10 corporate partnerships to support promotion and funding

Our team's ambition is to build a native 'API' for the artisan market, leveraging the power of individuals and cultural heritage.

The model we're pursuing in the short term can be somewhat understood by the following image:

Advisory Services Overview

Here you can find an overview of my advisory focus and approach to consulting. Currently I am employed full time, but will consider engagements depending on the context and availability.

Approach

Over the years, I've supported clients with go-to-market strategy advice, customer journey led commercial strategy, and data-driven organization design work (incl. operating model definition). The bulk of my work focuses on empowering of small teams to address large missions, supported by specialized technology. You can find a summary of common resources influencing my perspectives appended.

In my career as a consultant I have lead small specialized teams with technology enablers. Teams were often between 2-5 people, supported by technologies that enabled scale: custom programming and specialized analytics SaaS. During the engagements I have served as the engagement lead, strategic advisor, approach architect, and analyst.

For upcoming engagements, you can expect 1:1 working sessions testing underlying beliefs, decision models and the rigor of current thinking. Following this immersion, the expectation is that we work together on a series of experiments to test hypothesis against the current reality of your organization and market.

Venkatesh Rao's Breaking Smart essay "Tinkering versus Goals" provides a good description of the processes I seek to enable:

🛠️
The networked world approach is based on a very different idea. It does not begin with utopian goals or resources captured through specific promises or threats. Instead it begins with open-ended, pragmatic tinkering that thrives on the unexpected. The process is not even recognizable as a problem-solving mechanism at first glance: 1. Immersion in relevant streams of ideas, people and free capabilities 2. Experimentation to uncover new possibilities through trial and error 3. Leverage to double down on whatever works unexpectedly well

Ideally, working arrangements are ongoing conversations via email/chat interactions, with 1:1 sessions of 1-3 hours once or twice per month (more or less often depending on the pace of experiments). In some cases, clients will invite a colleague or team member, or organize a half-day debate-style workshop. Outputs of each engagement usually include a summary note in the form of email.

Depending on the context, I will also consider leading or joining a team for a period of time.

Resources
Books on organization design theory and concepts

1. Images of Organization (Gareth Morgan)

2. Seeing like a State (James Scott)

3. Data-Driven Org Design (Rupert Morrison)

4. The Art of Community (Charles Vogl)

5. Tribes (Seth Godin)

6. Reinventing Organisations (Frederic Laloux)

7. The Corporation That Changed the World (Nick Robins)

Resources on communities and the future of social

STOLEN FROM thefutureofsocial.co — in progress of reading

🗞Proof of X (Julian Lehr, 2020)

🗞Signaling-as-a-Service (Julian Lehr, 2020)

🗞From Audiences to Communities (Web Smith, 2020)

🗞100 True Fans (Li Jin, 2020)

🗞Facebook Subscription Groups (Techcrunch, 2018)

🗞Backing IRL Social Clubs (Packy McCormick, 2020)

🗞1,000 True Fans (Kevin Kelly, 2008)

🗞The Guid to Unbundling Reddit (Greg Isenberg, 2020)

🗞A Primer on the Passion Economy (Hadrien Comte, 2020)

🗞Paid Communities (Dru Riley, 2020)

🎧Means of Creation Podcast (Li Jin & Nathan Baschez)

📭Means of Creation Newsletter (Li Jin & Nathan Baschez)

📭Li Jin's Newsletter (Li Jin)

👤Li Jin

Personal Notes: Evolving Organizations

Here you can find selected posts and articles I've written in the past year, highlighting key topics of conversation regarding how organizations are evolving, especially in the context of COVID.

Which internet communities are blowing up right now?
There's a massive shift happening online. Are you feeling it?

Greg Isenberg had a fantastic post today about the emerging communities of the internet. He asked, which ones are blowing up, and suggested 3:

1. Rite of Passage (e.g. going to college, first job, moving, obtain X new product, buying a house)

2. Education with clear beginning and end (e.g. learn iOS, specialization programs like Google's IT offering)

3. Communities driven by charismatic leaders (e.g. large booming follower base on Twitter)

The response to Greg's post was fantastic, outlining several others to note:

4. Build and learn in public (e.g. me posting yesterday, NoCode, clusters on Twitter like @brandonthezhang), suggested by @stvngunn

5. Private groups augmenting in-person relationships (extended family chat groups, neighborhood groups, virtual pub trivia), suggested by @jesserhart

6. Guilds of independent makers (e.g. @Yakcollective, @IndiestackHQ)

Each of these is fostering another type of grouping:

7. The Collective: Coordinated creators with temporary shared goals or projects. The nascent, emerging trend can be seen in the rise of the 'collab' for those of you on Instagram.

The Future of Work and Collectives

Published on September 3, 2020

Quite often, customers of workforce management ask: "What is the future of work?"; Others might ask: "How will my function (like Customer Success) evolve over the next 5-10 years?" After exploring the question over the past few years, I think the answer lies at the intersection of three perspectives:

  1. The Fundamental Work: The deconstruction of employee base into activities
  2. The Creator Workforce: Jonathan Hillis' six economies of emerging online creators
  3. The Bundling Cycle: "There are only two ways to make money... one is to bundle and the other is to unbundle" - Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape
"What work in my organization will be executed by which online economy, in which bundle?"

I don't have the answer for anyone in particular, but have some theories as to the collectives which will emerge in the coming years. Note that these collectives are present in the 'cozy' corners of the internet, and will emerge to the mainstream in the coming years.

Feel free to follow me on twitter for more ideas @rafathebuilder

It is also worth understanding that each of these perspectives (work, creators, and bundling) applies to your workforce AND YOUR CUSTOMERS. We often forget that the client base also performs work for our companies (e.g. providing feedback and testing).

When thinking about the future of work we need to consider that customers are now breaking the fourth wall; Clients consume, pay AND participate in product design and testing.

Companies are recently waking up to the power of communities.

My perspective: The future is collective; Communities will create; Creators will collaborate.

Some key considerations for your company:

  • Community is not the same as an audience - How do you invest in community development?
  • Coordinated creation by your customer base is not the same as community - Do your customers create? If not, why?
  • Companies now have community leadership representation in their decision process - Do you? Think about the value...
  • We will all learn from community driven companies, as they will be the fiercest competitors. Where is community on your strategy roadmap?
  • Community exists internally AND externally. How does your employee community engage with your customer community?
  • Companies will begin to partner and purchase organizations like 'newsletters' with high engagement to BUY a community. What newsletters are aligned to your company vision?
  • Communities aren't built in a forced manner, they emerge from fertile ground. What approach are you taking?
  • Communities are nurtured in synchronous and asynchronous events. Which one?
Information Diet
researching: Books

Rethinking Curation (New Media Curation)

Homo Ludens, A study of the play-element in Culture (Johan Huizinga)

Gaming, Essays on Algorithmic Culture (Alexander R. Galloway)

Emissaries Guide to Worlding (Ian Cheng)

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galexy

A Pattern Language - Christopher Alexander

Notes on the Synthesis of Form - Christopher Alexander

The Cluetrain Manifesto - Rick Levine

gregory bateson's steps toward an ecology of mind

christopher alexander's a timeless way of building

The secret life of trees

The nature of order (Christopher Alexander)

The sovereign individual

The Situationalists (Dérive)

subscribing: Newsletters
reading: Seminal Pieces (Summer 2022 - Current)
moral-fn.pdf451.6KB
Soulbound Paper (Decentralized Social) 2022-05-11.pdf839.2KB
reading: Articles (Summer 2022 - Current)
DAOs as Data Trusts.pdf467.3KB
Applying SSI Principles to ILRs Report (1).pdf1612.0KB
Into the Personal-Website-Verse · Matthias Ott – User Experience Designer.pdf806.4KB
Legal Wrappers and DAOs 991.6KB
reading: Articles (Winter 2021 - Spring 2022)
Flash Organizations - Crowdsourcing Complex Work by Structuring Crowds as Organizations.pdf4747.7KB