Building Communities with Mozilla for 2014

Last week I was among 60+ Mozillians (paid and volunteer) who gathered in San Francisco for a work week where we analyzed and assessed the past, present and future work that we do. The commonality that brought us all together was that we each managed communities within Mozilla. These were communities based on location (Indonesia), function (developers), topics (education) and more. The room had people in different roles from around the world including both paid and unpaid staff which provided a diverse and yet, good representation of the Mozilla community. The purpose of this meetup was to collaborate on shared goals and plans to support all community building efforts across Mozilla in 2014 in order to move forward with growing the size of the community to one million Mozillians in ten years.

My thoughts going into the week were appreciation that groups and weeks like this exist to bring unity across communities. In a organization growing as quickly as Mozilla, it’s important for communities to not be working in silo’s and to be leveraging each other. After all, throughout the week I quickly learned we had all been doubling up on certain efforts which is not efficient or scalable.

We were split into teams based on unique pillars of community building including,

  • Systems and Data
  • Contribution Pathways
  • Education
  • Recognition
  • Events

I naturally chose the events category as did a few others and we spent the next few days hacking away at how we can improve the events systems in all communities. After some strategy planning, SWOT analysis, and goal setting we were forced to choose one overarching goal for 2014 and after much deliberation we came to one succinct goal by end of week:

Empower more Mozillians to run better events and have knowledge of better event processes

This was actually a scaled back version of our previous goals that we discussed in the beginning of the week, which focused more on quickly growing communities and leading events in new places around the world. We realized that as we were quickly growing we were already throwing many events within our respective communities and instead of quickly trying to force more events we needed to make sure we were equipping individuals (internally and externally) with the skill sets they needed in order to throw the best events they possibly could. Better events could lead to greater impact within the community and greater natural growth.

And our strategy in order to achieve this:

  • Gather best practices and leverage the knowledge of existing event organizers

    • Capture this data and host it in a place that is accessible to all community members

  • Understand the needs of the community and how we could improve events for hosts and attendees to get greater value (both locally and globally)

    • Teach individuals how to throw better events through proper training channels to allow for better understanding of event strategy and planning

My thoughts leaving the week were appreciation for the passion and energy that the individuals attending brought when representing their community. Like myself, they care about the people they work with and what their community represents. As such, people were not scared or hesitant to be vocal for the needs of their specific community which were vastly different across the board.

Group picture!
Group picture!

What I learned is that our communities can’t work alone. A lot of energy is spent understanding best practices and talking about what the community wants and while we’ve got great ideas, we rely on each other to make them possibilities. As we continue to grow we’re going to continue to see new communities and micro communities that live within those communities. Now is the time in which we identify all of the communities and their needs in order to start creating resources that they can leverage. Putting together content, resources or information on communities that are accessible to all Mozillians would eliminate the overlaps and increase efficiency. While this is great to start doing, the next question is where do we host this information so that it can be utilized, edited and added to by the different communities. This is my next step.

During the week we had a panel discussion from individuals who manage and have built reputable communities for their organization. When asked how do you instil leadership in your community the representative from the American Red Cross told us that “you can’t expect that because someone has been here for five years they are going to be leaders. Organization wide you have to have volunteer roles for everyone.” Moreover, she told us that every paid staff at the American Red Cross has a volunteer counterpart who is at the same organizational level that they are. This strategy allows them to build a team to carry out what they do. It’s a pretty simple strategy but greatly effective. With the number of volunteers that Mozilla has this would be an ideal strategy to start implementing. Obviously there would need to be a number of logistical things to figure out but it encourages the culture of unity that Mozilla represents. The community is the heart of what we do and the products we create so implementing ideas like this seem only natural to our future success.

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