Mozilla works to bring openness and opportunity for all into the Internet and online life. We seek to reflect these values in how we operate. At our founding it was easy to understand what this meant in our workflow — developers worked with open code and project management through bugzilla. This was complemented with an open workflow through the social media of the day — mailing lists and the chat or “messenger” element, known as Internet Relay Chat (“irc”). The tools themselves were also open-source and the classic “virtuous circle” promoting openness was pretty clear.
Today the setting is different. We were wildly successful with the idea of engineers working in open systems. Today open source code and shared repositories are mainstream, and in many areas the best of practices and expected and default. On the other hand, the newer communication and workflow tools vary in their openness, with some particularly open and some closed proprietary code. Access and access control is a constant variable. In addition, at Mozilla we’ve added a bunch of new types of activities beyond engineering, we’ve increased the number of employees dramatically and we’re a bit behind on figuring out what practicing open in this setting means.
I’ve decided to dedicate time to this and look at ways to make sure our goals of building open practices into Mozilla are updated and more fully developed. This is one of the areas of focus I mentioned in an earlier post describing where I spend my time and energy.
So far we have three early stage pilots underway sponsored by the Office of the Chair:
- Opening up the leadership recruitment process to more people
- Designing inclusive decision-making practices
- Fostering meaningful conversations and exchange of knowledge across the organization, with a particular focus on bettering communications between Mozillians and leadership.
Follow-up posts will have more info about each of these projects. In general the goal of these experiments is to identify working models that can be adapted by others across Mozilla. And beyond that, to assist other Mozillians figure out new ways to “practice open” at Mozilla.