Building Mozilla’s Core Strength

I was lucky enough to be invited to “Mozlando” and was really pleased with the 3 pillars Chris Beard revealed for Mozilla in 2016. Especially the concept of building core strength. As a ballet dancer I’ve actually used this analogy myself when making suggestions for projects I’ve been involved in. Of course the issue always is turning concepts into practice, getting people to actually apply them practically when they go back to work.

Community should be one of Mozilla’s core strengths. It’s been taken for granted, not very well understood, and no one seems to really be sure how to measure its strength let alone build it. There are some really great people trying to approach the problem from different angles, but I think we’re overlooking the basics and not applying knowledge and process that we already have.

Minimum Viable Product

I assume most of you reading this are familiar enough with Agile best practices to recognize this term. George Roter brought it with him to the Participation Team (or at least used the term more often than his predecessors). We need to identify the MVP for community strength at Mozilla. What is the least thing that needs to happen to be able to say we have a healthy community? We need to identify it, and then realign everything necessary until we’re capable of shipping it.

Mobilize the Base

I think anyone that works with a movement understands that if you can’t mobilize your base, then you’re lost. It’s the definition of a movement. Mozilla has hundreds and thousands of volunteers, and volunteers-in-waiting. It’s a massive untapped resource that should be the single litmus test of Mozilla’s success:

Can Mozilla mobilize its base?

The answer is pretty clear, whether or not it can, it doesn’t. I think this should be the single most important goal for 2016, and it supports all the initiatives already identified. Technical teams are focusing on making what’s already in the browser better. That’s great, because you need to give your base a product it can believe in if you want them to be moved to action.  Done on its own, it’s much harder to come up with a direction, or a definition of success. But if you’re trying to get your base excited about your product again, all of a sudden you have something you can measure, and someone to whom you can listen to guide your progress.

Obviously where this weakness exposes itself the most is in non-technical teams and especially in marketing. In this age of viral advertising and the sharing economy, Mozilla came with a built in network of savvy internet citizens. Getting our message out there should be our core strength. We should have a network of professionals who know how to leverage that network. We should be intentionally investing in attracting and retaining those members of the community that can be mobilized, and cutting out practices that don’t further this goal. No other problem should be prioritized above this.

This must be our core strength, our minimum viable product. We make products but ultimately we’re an organization built on a mission, on values, on a movement. We must be able to mobilize our base before we can accomplish anything else worth accomplishing.

No one should be able to beat us at this.
This isn’t a nice-to-have.

This is how we survive.


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