Mozilla India Community Refresh - A take from George | Discussion

participation

(Rabimba) #1

Recently our Head of Core Contributors from Participation Team @george visited India in a bid to understand the communities, what it needs to grow more and be successful and some of the pain points. He did visit quite a few places and was hosted by the respective communities of those places which include

  • Pune
  • Hyderabad
  • Bangalore
  • Ahmedabad
  • Kolkata
  • Delhi

I was not one of the fortunate ones to be part of the team who met with him. But I surely am one of the interested people who wants to discuss the problems, solutions and more importantly the why and how

So without further ado here is the mail @george sent to the mailing list.

Dear Mozillians in India,

First, let me thank all the Mozillians who spent time in meetups and helped
organized my whirlwind 6 day, 6 community visit in India this past week
(Pune - Hyderabad - Bangalore - Ahmedabad - Kolkata - Delhi). Let me also
take this chance to thank all of you in India who are so obviously deeply
committed to Mozilla’s manifesto and mission, and put your actions where
your values are.

The purpose of this email is to share a set of recommendations that I have
regarding the health and future of the Mozilla India community, informed by
conversations I had over the week. These are largely the synthesis of the
ideas that people I met with shared with me, though the structure and a
small amount of the content/areas of emphasis may be my own.

(Note: I will share a broader set of reflections on my trip later next
week.)

On process:

  • I suggest the community discuss the recommendations below in the coming
    few days
    • That actions move forward based on the points of greatest agreement in
      the discussion
    • A small set of people from the community simply step up to take action

Summary version of my recommendations

  1. Mozilla India needs a substantial reset – in goals, structure and work processes
  2. One part of this reset should include an Indian Community Gathering of
    the most active contributors, probably in early August. The overall purpose
    of this would be to finalize the design of the vision, goals, structure and
    work processes.
  3. I recommend forming a Convening Group made up of 1-2 people from each
    major sub-community to help guide the planning of the Indian Community
    Gathering. This group should be formed ASAP, start work immediately
    thereafter, and aim to meet in-person sometime in the next 6 weeks.
  4. I recommend that the content be constructed and facilitated by someone
    other than the participants of this gathering (including the Convening
    Group). One of our commitments from the Participation Team would be to help
    find an India-based consultant who could take on this facilitation, or to
    have our team take this on directly.
  5. In order for the above to be successful, an important commitment of the
    Participation Team (along with Reps Council) needs to be:
  6. Providing clarity on where Mozilla is going
  7. Articulating contribution/participation goals and areas from across Mozilla
  8. A set of well supported participation programs

Some context: Mozilla India is broken

During each of my community visits this past week I asked about the health
and functioning of the overall Mozilla India community. Here is what I
heard.

First, I heard that over the past 1-2 years, the focus for goal-setting,
activities, projects, and Mozillians’ identities has shifted substantially
toward sub-communities (e.g. Mozilla Kerala, Mozilla Pune, MozPacers, etc).
With this, there has been the emergence and growth of new sub-communities.

Second, I heard that there has been a significant reduction in the activity
of the functional task forces – the model that was previously the
connective tissue of Mozilla India. Basically, people said that, apart from
a few exceptions, nothing is really going on with the task forces now.

This reduced task force activity is probably a complex combination of a
number of factors, including the sub-community growth, personal conflicts
within the community, changing and unclear Mozilla goals and support, and
Mozilla ceasing some core projects (namely Webmaker and FirefoxOS).

Third, I heard that cross-community communication isn’t working well –
that it’s fragmented and on many different channels and back-channels, that
it’s not forthright and open, and that sometimes it is totally absent/quiet.

Fourth, I heard there is unresolved conflict between individuals within the
community, and that this continues to cause substantial tension. I heard
some very active contributors have outright left or pulled back in part
because of this conflict.

Fifth, I heard that in addition to local challenges in India, there are
some global causes to the current situation in India. These include changes
in Mozilla’s direction and programs, unclear communication and
expectations, and unresolved issues such as the Reps Budget process and
Recognition process not being optimized.

In summary, the structures and processes that once made up how Mozilla
India worked (and how Mozillians related to it) are broken. This is
threatening the health of Mozilla India. And I heard that people think it’s
urgent to do something about this.

Unity in diversity: We believe in Mozilla India and its potential

What I also heard, unequivocally, is that people are longing for Mozilla
India to work. Numerous times people said to me – with great emotion in
their voice and on their face – “yes, I want a healthy, strong Mozilla
India that has unity in diversity.”

From what I’ve heard, a strong and unified Mozilla India will bring more
impact, more learning and more scale. People gave examples of how advocacy,
web literacy, innovation in IoT and other areas, and even growing new
technical areas like Rust/Servo and WebVR would all benefit from
coordination and learning between people and sub-communities. They also
gave examples of how there could be tools and lessons shared on growing and
maintaining communities in India – that this would bring efficiencies and
innovation.

I will add my own comment here based on what I saw this trip and what I
know about where Mozilla is headed: There is a massive opportunity for
Mozilla’s mission in Mozilla India being healthy and strong. Given that
Mozilla India is, by far, the largest Mozilla community in the world (and
also has the most individual contributors working with functional
teams/areas), this is important for Mozilla and for the Participation Team.

It must be designed with some core principles

I did hear a quite a range of different ideas on how Mozilla India should
work – I think deciding on a design is the core of the work to be done.

However, I heard a small number of common and strongly held core principles
that should drive this design. These principles come from a deep sense of
the Mozilla mission, from cultural realities across India, and potentially
from fear of what people want to make sure doesn’t happen to Mozilla India.

In any case, these core principles are an excellent starting point.

Let me try to articulate what I heard, with the caveat that I think what
I’ve written below should only be the starting point for articulating these
core principles. I’m not in the community, so I’m not going to be able to
get these exactly right:

  • We believe in distributed “leadership” and decision-making
  • We believe that coordinated goals and action will bring more impact
  • We believe that we can learn from one another

Recommendations again: Time for a reset

One option in responding to all of the above would be to continue on the
same path, adding more energy and tweaking the structures and processes.
This would mean the community being organized in roughly the same way as in
past years, with a Task Force meetup soon, adding or removing task forces,
and working on a roadmap for the year. While there were some voices that
advocated for this approach, most people I talked with thought a more
substantial reset was needed.

One person said it best during my trip: “You can’t clear a mud-puddle by
just adding more water.”

I’ll also make my own note here: Mozilla has changed a lot and Mozilla
India has grown massively since the community structures and processes were
originally set up 4-5 years ago. From all of my experience and study about
how communities and organizations develop, it’s very natural to need a more
substantial step-back and reset.

So here’s the recommendations again:

  1. Mozilla India needs a substantial reset – in goals, structure and work
    processes
  2. One part of this reset should include an Indian Community Gathering of 
    

the most active contributors, probably in early August. The overall purpose
of this would be to finalize the design of the vision, goals, structure and
work processes.
3. I recommend forming a Convening Group made up of 1-2 people from each
major sub-community to help guide the planning of the Indian Community
Gathering. This group should be formed ASAP, start work immediately
thereafter, and aim to meet in-person sometime in the next 6 weeks.
4. I recommend that the content be constructed and facilitated by someone
other than the participants of this gathering (including the Convening
Group). One of our commitments from the Participation Team would be to help
find an India-based consultant who could take on this facilitation, or to
have our team take this on directly.
5. In order for the above to be successful, an important commitment of the

Participation Team (along with Reps Council) needs to be:

  1.  Providing clarity on where Mozilla is going 
    
  2. Articulating contribution/participation goals and areas from across Mozilla 
    
  3. A set of well supported participation programs

Time to discuss – quickly!

These thoughts and ideas already come from your community. I strongly
recommend elaborating on them through discussion and then acting quickly
(within a couple of weeks). Our team is here to support you, and I’m
specifically happy to clarify anything above and share more ideas.

Let me finish with this. I walked away from this trip with a sense that the
talent and commitment is present within your community to build something
truly special, something important for Mozilla’s mission and the world. It
felt like the time was ripe for starting down this path. I left hopeful,
optimistic and excited.

Onward,
George

You can read the original mail here.

The reason I am starting this thread is because like @george said Time to discuss – quickly!. Hence let us reflect ponder over what went wrong where and how we can hit that reset button. So that we actually learn from our mistakes, not repeat them (in reality eat,code and repeat doesn’t work that well).

Disclaimer : I am not physically part of Mozilla India. caveats of not being there…but I in spirit completely am. Part of every community isn spirit. So if I got anything wrong, don’t hesitate to point and shout at me.

Let the discussion begin!


(Rabimba) #2

I just wanted to sum up the discussion saying that I realized all of us, community members are way too busy in other activities rather than to strike up a discussion.

I did see a few follow up mails in the google group (see here) which still i think not exactly a discussion on the topics.

So after 8 days and 304 views I realize that maybe we are too reluctant to address the elephant in the room. I see (from number of views and the posts in my Facebook Timeline) people are obviously more interested about gatherings and meets than what we do in them.

So this is mostly my last post here in this thread.


(Akshay) #3

I’m copy pasting what I wrote in this thread on the community-india mailing list.

It’s more about what to discuss than about where/how to discuss.

George summarized it correctly - India community is broken. Now what do we discuss about it? Everyone knows our community is broken.

Maybe we can discuss on why it is broken. But it is such a tough question that it is above discussing. (Compare this with, “why is Firefox’s marketshare decreasing?” How do you answer that?).

We could probably discuss a few general solutions that might work even without identifying what our problem is. Like, having vision, goals, structure and work processes. Or working out in the open. But we had similar discussions in past community meetup(s) too. So what will suddenly change?

I also think that the dysfunction in our community is a part of a larger trend throughout mozilla of shifting goals and flux. I think that’s why George said in his mail

Participation Team (along with Reps Council) needs to be:

  1. Providing clarity on where Mozilla is going
  2. Articulating contribution/participation goals and areas from across Mozilla
  3. A set of well supported participation programs

As far as I’m concerned, any attempt to fix Mozilla India should start from those points.


(Prathamesh Chavan) #4

Lets fix all the issues related to our community in our upcoming Mozilla India community meetup :slight_smile:


(Rabimba) #5

Atleast somebody posted something.

If we don’t even discuss why its broken. How do we ensure we don’t keep making the mistakes again and again? Atleast what I knew about solving any problem is first to acknowledge that the problem exists.
And we do discuss “why is Firefox’s marketshare decreasing?” a lot and extensively in many channels! And a lot of them brings up points and reasons people thought before as given.[quote=“asdofindia, post:3, topic:9074”]
We could probably discuss a few general solutions that might work even without identifying what our problem is
[/quote]

That is the why part. The problem stems from why.
Or if you want to be more general then what I wrote before [quote=“rabimba, post:1, topic:9074”]
Hence let us reflect ponder over what went wrong where and how we can hit that reset button.
[/quote]

This ^^^

I feel these just support an effort. none of these are magic bullets. And they alone don’t fix anything. These were the 5th point of the recommendation from George(and like he said these came from teh community itself, from discussions). I guess Faisal and almost everyone is working on the 1st point. But if we don’t even talk about the problems, these processes alone is not gonna do anything. Not like this is the first Mozilla India gathering.