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7 Lessons from Mozilla

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Talk I gave at Heise about lessons we've learned at Mozilla

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7 Lessons from Mozilla

  1. Lessons from Mozilla John Lilly, CEO January 27, 2009 Heise Open Source Meets Business
  2. The talk I was supposed to give: How to Bring an Open Source Application Into the Mainstream
  3. But there are some problems with the premise: 1. every project is different 2. context really, really matters 3. lots of strategies are not “open” or “closed”
  4. There are lots of examples of wonderful open source successes : ...but no clear models for how to get there.
  5. So instead: Lessons from Mozilla: 7 insights, 2 problems & some thoughts for 2009
  6. Warning!! Your Mileage May Vary
  7. First, some context... about:Mozilla
  8. about:Mozilla 1. a global, open source project 2. a community of thousands of creators 3. a mission-oriented organization 4. a public benefit company and subs 5. the maker of Firefox & Thunderbird
  9. about:Mozilla Mozilla’s Mission: To promote choice and innovation on the Internet
  10. the Web is too important... seriously. that’s it.
  11. about:Mozilla •Mozilla project started in 1998 within Netscape •Mozilla Foundation started in 2003 •approximately 200 employees in 20 countries •40% of code contributed by non-employees •testing community of 20,000+ •current reach is more than 220 million users
  12. Firefox Market Share as of 3/2008
  13. Now... Lessons from Mozilla: 7 insights, 2 problems & some thoughts for 2009
  14. Insight #1 Superior Products Matter
  15. Look again at some big successes... All are known for being best-in-class for users
  16. Without excellent experience & utility, the rest is meaningless
  17. Insight #2 Push (most) decision-making to the edges
  18. The Strongest Open Systems are Chaords 1. distributed decision-making 2. nodal authority 3. ways to route around http://upload.wikimedia.org/ wikipedia/en/d/d2/ Internet_map_1024.jpg
  19. Characteristics of Chaords (coined by Dee Hock) 1. exhibit characteristics of both chaos & order 2. regularly yield surprising innovation 3. highly robust & scalable systems examples: the Internet, Visa, Wikipedia
  20. Mozilla is a Chaord 1. high agreement on core values 2. decision-making rests with module owners 3. groups have distinct ways of working 4. many decision-makers outside the “official” org 5. communication is central
  21. Insight #3 Communication will happen in every possible way (so make sure it’s reusable)
  22. People will communicate in every useful way possible
  23. Wikis
  24. Blogs (and especially, Other Peoples’ Blogs!)
  25. Our main channels: bugzilla, IRC & newsgroups
  26. Increasing: video, audio & chat
  27. And very frequent real-life get-togethers
  28. Key: make every conversation (re)usable by as many people as possible
  29. Insight #4 Make it easy for your community to do the important things
  30. SuMo, QMO, SFx
  31. Localization Firefox ships in 62 languages; 61 of them localized by volunteers Making it easy is a huge priority
  32. Our focus now is on making it easier to help others do more
  33. Insight #5 Surprise is overrated
  34. Surprise is the opposite of engagement
  35. Goal is to increase the “inner circle” of participation
  36. Surprising to some
  37. Goal is to have growing inner circle -- ideally everyone should feel included
  38. Insight #6 Communities are not markets: members are citizens
  39. Citizens?? Citizens are more than consumers, are more than bystanders, are more than stakeholders
  40. Citizens! They are us. We are them.
  41. The best citizens challenge the status quo, propose improvements and make the conversation richer.
  42. They don’t just make products better. They make them what they are.
  43. Insight #7 (meta-insight) The key is the art of figuring out whether & how to apply each of these ideas
  44. How?? Experiment! Try things! Measure where possible.
  45. There are real problems, of course
  46. Problem #1 Engaged citizens are noisy
  47. Citizens are noisy... “Fitts’ says bigger “The URL bar should buttons are better.” “What’s with the be removed.” dirty house?” “There should be “My mom doesn’t “Nobody uses the “Add support for a preference setting.” understand tabs.” ‘Go’ button.” BitTorrent.” “OpenID is the future!” “That’s great!” “Everyone uses tags, not bookmarks.” “I love tabs!” “The profile manager should be redesigned.” “Add support for Ogg Vorbis.” “That’s awful” “Closebuttons are better at the end of the tabstrip.”
  48. ...and demanding...
  49. ...and contradictory...
  50. ...and vital. They help products & technology & organization make hard decisions in the right way.
  51. Problem #2 At scale, there are no maps
  52. Actually, there are maps But they’re everybody else’s maps, and not really yours
  53. dragons everywhere http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Carta_Marina
  54. Key is defining what you care about, and how to measure it, and how to communicate litmus tests
  55. Postscript 2 Thoughts for 2009
  56. Thought #1 The Web is central (but at some risk)
  57. Every browser is getting better on standards, JS performance, etc... But not at the same pace.
  58. And this slower pace of change creates real problems for developers
  59. Thought #2 Together, we’re all deciding the future of the mobile Web right now
  60. Is this what we want? Traditional tight coupling between service, manufacturer & software http://flickr.com/photos/jaboobie/11686470/
  61. We can do better than this tethered model On the Web, you don’t have to ask permission
  62. Choices have consequences Which one do you want?
  63. Questions & Discussion John Lilly - lilly@mozilla.com All content CC-Attribution Thanks & apologies & materials borrowed from: Mike Beltzner, Chris Beard, the Mozilla Community

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