This feels like a huge step in the right direction for Participation at Mozilla!
Heartbeat is more than just a technical tool, it’s a new and evolving open approach to collaboration and accountability!
I’ve been watching the Webmaker/Foundation team use it since the beginning of the year and it really feels like they’ve leveled up not only in their effectiveness, but in coherence. As someone not involved with their work day to day, I can track everything they’re doing and gain an understanding of how and where I could jump in.
I’ve been hanging back from actively engaging Mozilla for the past few months (since the Portland work week) to see where things land with Participation efforts. This gives me confidence and makes me want to jump back in.
Aside from its potential as a tool for onboarding and transparency, possibly the most impactful aspect of heartbeat is the adoption of a RACI model variant. By committing to a standard way of documenting roles and responsibilities about who is driving what, who is working with them, who should be kept informed, etc, the community can take part in holding participants accountable and the process for transferring accountabilities become clearer. I think this will create necessary momentum around efforts and in the long term will help scale the kinds of participation we want to see: impactful collaborations across domains and interests, as well as leadership from the edges.
I can’t stress enough how powerful having strong norms around accountability+role documentation can be. I think it’s one of the major missing pieces Mozilla has in bridging impactful efforts across the organization as well as empowering volunteer participants to lead and innovate.
I could go on about Heartbeat’s virtues, but just putting the system in place isn’t enough. It’s not old enough to be a completely proven system and should be considered an active experiment.
A commitment must be made to constantly revisit and tweak it. Periodic sharing between the Participation team and MoFos around experiences and process should definitely be a thing to make sure Heartbeat is continuing to evolve to serve our needs.
Adoption is critical. Both in terms of adopting norms (I see that many of the current projects aren’t populated with accountabilities yet) and the number of people using the tool itself. It won’t be a useful dashboard if a critical mass of people doing participation work aren’t sharing and tracking their work via heartbeats.
What does critical mass look like? Who are the early adopters who will help us get there by proving+evolving the model and give it the legitimacy necessary to unlock its potential impact? Who will recruit those people? These are questions that must be proactively asked.
One of the things I love about the Webmaker Hearbeat is that strategic projects are listed side by side with tactical projects with direct impact ‘on the ground’. I’d like to see this with the Participation Heartbeat. I predict having this kind of transparency into who is involved with higher level strategic efforts will help tie everything together for those looking at the Participation Heartbeat and trying to make sense as to what’s going on across Mozilla and why.
Onboarding and Reference documentation: This is an area that still needs all the work. Clear communication as to what the Heartbeat site is along with how to get involved on the homepage are needed. Info on strategy, metrics, and getting involved still link to Webmaker resources. Plenty of work still to do in fully taking advantage of Heartbeat as both a dashboard and a method for onboarding projects and participants.
Those are my initial excited thoughts! I’m sure I’ll have more.
For the first time in months, I’m excited about Participation at Mozilla! I think there may be a bit more work involved in maintaining and evolving this tool+process than anyone realizes yet, but critical infrastructure like this is what is going to create the leverage for greater impact.
Would love to hear more experiences on how implementation of Heartbeats (the processes, not the tool) is going. This is a serious commitment that will likely have some growing pains, but I’m sure the investment will be worth it!