7 Lessons from Mozilla

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Information about 7 Lessons from Mozilla

Published on January 27, 2009

Author: johnolilly

Source: slideshare.net


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

Lessons from Mozilla John Lilly, CEO January 27, 2009 Heise Open Source Meets Business

The talk I was supposed to give: How to Bring an Open Source Application Into the Mainstream

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”

There are lots of examples of wonderful open source successes : ...but no clear models for how to get there.

So instead: Lessons from Mozilla: 7 insights, 2 problems & some thoughts for 2009

Warning!! Your Mileage May Vary

First, some context... about:Mozilla

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

about:Mozilla Mozilla’s Mission: To promote choice and innovation on the Internet

the Web is too important... seriously. that’s it.

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

Firefox Market Share as of 3/2008

Now... Lessons from Mozilla: 7 insights, 2 problems & some thoughts for 2009

Insight #1 Superior Products Matter

Look again at some big successes... All are known for being best-in-class for users

Without excellent experience & utility, the rest is meaningless

Insight #2 Push (most) decision-making to the edges

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

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

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

Insight #3 Communication will happen in every possible way (so make sure it’s reusable)

People will communicate in every useful way possible


Blogs (and especially, Other Peoples’ Blogs!)

Our main channels: bugzilla, IRC & newsgroups

Increasing: video, audio & chat

And very frequent real-life get-togethers

Key: make every conversation (re)usable by as many people as possible

Insight #4 Make it easy for your community to do the important things

SuMo, QMO, SFx

Localization Firefox ships in 62 languages; 61 of them localized by volunteers Making it easy is a huge priority

Our focus now is on making it easier to help others do more

Insight #5 Surprise is overrated

Surprise is the opposite of engagement

Goal is to increase the “inner circle” of participation

Surprising to some

Goal is to have growing inner circle -- ideally everyone should feel included

Insight #6 Communities are not markets: members are citizens

Citizens?? Citizens are more than consumers, are more than bystanders, are more than stakeholders

Citizens! They are us. We are them.

The best citizens challenge the status quo, propose improvements and make the conversation richer.

They don’t just make products better. They make them what they are.

Insight #7 (meta-insight) The key is the art of figuring out whether & how to apply each of these ideas

How?? Experiment! Try things! Measure where possible.

There are real problems, of course

Problem #1 Engaged citizens are noisy

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.”

...and demanding...

...and contradictory...

...and vital. They help products & technology & organization make hard decisions in the right way.

Problem #2 At scale, there are no maps

Actually, there are maps But they’re everybody else’s maps, and not really yours

dragons everywhere http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Carta_Marina

Key is defining what you care about, and how to measure it, and how to communicate litmus tests

Postscript 2 Thoughts for 2009

Thought #1 The Web is central (but at some risk)

Every browser is getting better on standards, JS performance, etc... But not at the same pace.

And this slower pace of change creates real problems for developers

Thought #2 Together, we’re all deciding the future of the mobile Web right now

Is this what we want? Traditional tight coupling between service, manufacturer & software http://flickr.com/photos/jaboobie/11686470/

We can do better than this tethered model On the Web, you don’t have to ask permission

Choices have consequences Which one do you want?

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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