Mission Driven Mozillians - Leadership Principle 1

This is the discussion section for Mozilla’s Volunteer Leadership Principles & Practices. Please read the original post before participating.

Principle 1. Leadership should be renewable

  • There should be set terms for all leadership roles
  • There should be regular renewal checkpoints (by community &/or staff)

Please respond to the following question:

What would implementation of these principles & practices look like in your community or area?

Here are a few more questions to help you think about implementation:

  • How do we decide term limits for leadership positions at Mozilla?
  • What’s the best process for choosing a leader?
  • What should the review process be for leaders at Mozilla?

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I actually am very skeptical about this as I think that persistent roles are actually often better for leadership in FLOSS communities than constantly changing terms and councils.

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I identify myself in various areas (l10n, SUMO), but all they have in common is I always threat them as something local. Definitely we need to align with stuff happening in global (and can influence them by participating in discussions when it’s open), but our best strength is helping Mozilla locally, making Firefox open, accessible and friendly for people in the Czech Republic.

In the Czech community, if someone can be considered as leader, it would be me. Personally I would call myself a “guide”. I am the longest one involved and probably having the most contacts and widest overview of what’s happening in Mozilla. But personally I do not consider myself as a leader, I never tell people what we should do. Sometimes I have ideas, what we can do and achieve, yes, but everyone can do what he/she wants to do and feels is the most beneficial. So my “leadership” is limited to having ideas and sharing knowledge.

So to answer the question, how to implement these principles in the Czech community - better do not. Either we have no true leadership, or if you decide co consider me as a leader, I would need to restrict my regular contributions and force someone else to take them over, even if they do not want to or won’t feel comfortable in the position. I would say if Mozilla wants to be an open project, in the first place we should have leaders open to others, accepting feedback and giving feedback.

Note that setting terms doesn’t mean we have to change people all the time, but that we establish a point were these roles are evaluated (checkpoints) and new people have the opportunity to renew the old ones.

This could mean someone is a localization leader for 3 years, but each year the role is evaluated and new people can opt-in. Maybe after 3 years, a new person is considered a better fit for the role and will take the responsibilities.

Must have a limit to ensure diversity, maximum two years seems to be healthy, and should have the opportunity to return alternately.

I do not believe more than just votes are enough to choose the best, but proven experience it’s, I really believe that people of diverse backgrounds, inside or outside of Mozilla have a lot of experience in community management and leadership, this is obvious because it is possible to see the work, from an online forum to GitHub, to the daily activity blog. I do not have a process in mind, but I believe that the process needs to take this into consideration, the person needs to have proven experience, history inside or outside the community, successful work, demonstrate commitment for a long time with community activities.

I have no process in mind, but the Ubuntu community has a membership validation process, where every 2 years it is reviewed if the volunteer keeps their regular contributions. It’s not the state of the art, but it’s a start.

Thank you for getting the whole project rolling!

Here are a few thoughts on the subject from my side:

I think that the Firefox release cycle is one of the most practical time units or periods to adopt in this case. Mozillians usually rally and interact the most for the purpose of releases and many activities that invite contribution across Mozilla fall into that rhythm.
Therefore, voting (done online) for community coordinators could be done one week after each release, to reflect and represent ongoing engagement into Mozilla’s mission.

(That said, some parts of Mozilla’s mission may have different suitable time periods to consider. For example, MozFest happens once a year, not every 6 weeks - and has a different “life cycle”).

Each member of a community could have 2 votes to give to other members of the same community. (A community in this context would probably be a group of people gathered around a geographical location, a locale or a project with a significant pool of distributed contributors, e.g. MozFest)

Voting could be done via mozillians.org (an account would be required for voting and being a candidate). One can’t vote for themselves, only for others. Voting would be public (the number of votes would be clickable and would show who voted for a person). Every vouched for Mozillian would be eligible to receive votes.

Another interesting alternative could be giving a persistent “thumbs up” that could be removed, if the opinion of a community member about the person they gave the “thumbs up” changes. There would be no “thumbs down”, only a “thumbs up” option.

In general, feedback could be ongoing (and online) and grouped by Firefox release (every release or every two releases, whatever’s more convenient). All feedback could be transparent and accessible to everyone within a community. We’d probably need some courses on providing/receiving constructive feedback for everyone (myself included), but that investment could go a long way towards a more honest and open community.

Feedback options could include a numerical scale through which feedback providers could express their understanding of a person’s contributions and performance in making Mozilla’s mission happen. The scale could measure several aspects, like “being on time”, “clarity in communications”, etc. (in case you need metrics for these hard to distill qualities).

The leaders could be the 3-4 people from each community that receive the most support from other members. That number would differ depending on the scale and needs of the community, but ideally would always be larger than 1.

I’m answering this per @vesper’s request.

Who knows? Do we really need to add yet another layer of “politics” to contributing to Mozilla’s mission?

Again, who knows? I’m usually regarded as a “leader” because my borderline addiction to answering questions at https://support.mozilla.org/es/questions usually lands me as #1 at https://support.mozilla.org/es/community/top-contributors/questions?locale=es Does this mean I’m a “leader” for the fellow 22 other Mozillian on that table? I don’t think so as I hardly ever interact with them in a meaningful way if at all. Would one like to be regarded as a “leader” if being so would just be an added burden on top of the fun parts such as helping fellow Firefox users in my case?

I believe this somehow already happens every six months when the All Hands invites are distributed but this is not really transparent for us volunteers and we only get to see a “you’re invited” if lucky. I was deemed worthy twice in 2016 but not once in 2017. Is this due to me somehow missing some unknown marks this year while meeting them last one? Only @vesper and the SuMo drivers would know for sure or maybe not. Is this just a result of the number of spots shrinking year over year?

To comment on that, invites to the allhands don’t indicate that someone is a leader, nor does the lack of an invite indicate the contrary.

Teams should set an agenda for what they want to do at allhands, and then invite community members that can help with that. Often that means bringing insights in to the conversation, which makes people that are carefully observing a good candidate. Sometimes, you’re looking for someone that will bring learnings back to the community, and I think that’s closer to “invite an individual in a leadership role”.

For my functional area, l10n, we have 100 localizations, and each has folks to lead their individual effort. And we have a single-digit number of invites. Clearly, we can’t invite all leaders. I guess similar holds true for Sumo.

I think this is a sensitive subject because since we are volunteers we can’t really estimate how our lives will be in a broader time range. We could be in a new job, or working in a time consuming project. So I believe terms shouldn’t be too long, but it should be allowed renewals. This way, the person who is in a leadership role can keep working in a comfortable scenario.

I like the reps council process. Candidates say what are their plans and the community has a chance to discuss them publicly.

Community feedback. Is this leader work aligned with Mozilla’s mission? Is she/he promoting inclusion and diversity?

I’m not sure it can be decided, as it’s volunteering work and it depends on person’s life conditions which might be changing unexpectedly either in personal or professional sides. However in my opinion we should expect 2 things from a leader, notify when he’ll be not able to be in charge and he should have delegated the task to someone who’s well trained for that (mentored). This brings the idea of each time having leaders and co-leaders at once to share the load and always ensure the work is done.

Or what’s the best process for a leader to see himself as potential candidate :slight_smile: For that the list of responsibilities for each leader should be well detailed, a list of functional skills. One list of potential candidates available, and a call for vote should be done. The candidates should specify their motivation and past experience as support for decision taking, it can include also any leadership proofs.

Based on information sent be candidates, information, motivation, a vote can be done at community or group level. A leader and co-leader should be chosen. Maybe allow a test period of 6 months to make sure the newly elected leader understands what it is expected from him and that he’s enjoying doing it because if not sooner or later chances are that he gives up.