My experience inside the Mozilla Reps Council in the last 2 years

The last May, with the onboarding of the new council, my 2 years inside the Reps Council ended.

If you don’t know what is the Mozilla Reps program check the website, and just consider that every 6 months there is a new council (to change a part of the members) where other Reps candidate them self for that role and the rest of the program vote it.

I had the honor and the accountability to act for over 300 Reps (initially we were more compared to now) for all the Mozilla communities around the world from different regions, locales and countries.
With a weekly meeting and task to do every week to move on the Mozilla Manifesto and help the communities to grow and evolve.

It was a long experience that I want to recap as usual with ranting (or brutally honest), learning and fun. A story of involving as community manager for all the Mozillians around the world just because I wanted to do my part for the Mozilla manifesto.

PS: I joined the program in May 2015 and selected as Rep of the month in April 2016. In 2017, I become a Reps mentor, contributed as developer to the Reps portal

Basically a movie that no one want to see but maybe Netflix will do a TV series if all the nerd/consumers of Firefox will be interested.

Maybe, but probably it’s me that put a lot of effort in this role with 2-6 hours per week in this 2 years, as volunteer.

I joined 6 All Hands (London 2016 and Hawaii 2016) but only the last 4 as Reps Council member: San Francisco 2017, Austin 2017, San Francisco 2018, Orlando 2018.

There are also the Reps candidate video of 2017 and 2018, with my Q&A for the election of 2017 and 2018.

It is easy to spot and see what I did because everything is documented (sadly seems that I am the only one that do this kind of reportage).

Anyway let’s start!

Some stuff I did during my terms

And many other things that I cannot find on discourse and GitHub.

Learnings

I am a developer that wasn’t caring a lot of helping on changing the workflow/process of my community, when I saw that I could do it and people accepting, but most important helping it was a must.

So I studied a lot with reading a lot of books about Coaching, team management, process workflow and how to communicate better (a reason why there is a Book review section in this site) because I can.

This helped also my italish ehm English a lot, I remember initially the huge amount of grammar fixes in my OKRs by the other council members. This was the reason why I did again a Duolingo course for English and started on writing more on this language.

I learned also how works Mozilla as foundation and company, with all the contradiction of that and also how to propose stuff that can be easier to accept it.

I learned how to discuss ideas during the brainstorming for the next OKRs and not complain about the wrong choice (from my point of view).

The various contradiction about NDA, private and public information that we can disclose, and also how to manage the various tasks for this need.

One of the thing that I learned is that the stuff proposed by the candidates for the Council is like 90% impossible. So also learn to be more realistic and adopt the MVP for OKRs and changes to do.

Accountability issues and tasks management

This was my first very big problem and I hated it a lot. Basically I was very involved and doing a lot inside the council but the others wasn’t doing like me or at least a bit.

Just to explain what is the work of a Reps Council member (that seems not clear also after the onboarding for this role):

  • At every All Hands there are OKRs that define what will be done in the next 6 months or 12 months
  • The amount is like 1 for every council member
  • The owner should open a GitHub ticket to track and publish updates publically
  • After you have to do a proposal/plan about how to achieve this idea
  • The council will review and discuss it
  • When is approved (with a vote maybe) there will be the action

This problem still persist and I can explain very easy looking at GitHub (that is public), how many ticket assigned to see to every council members?
Only when is pushed a lot to them to open it they was doing a ticket, that help to track what they are doing (if they will update it).

The council right now is not transparent with the same Council members (since the 2 years I was part of it).

So take as example:

  • You take to write a proposal 1-2 month (1 hour per week hopefully)
  • Council will review it in the next 2-3 weeks (maybe reaching also other Mozilla employees that slow down more)
  • Maybe a voting that require another week
  • Let’s put in action

The problem happens when the owner of the task is missing the weekly call. So everything got delayed for another week, also on reviewing because not everyone works asynchronous.

Consider that a lot of Reps Council member was doing their task before the weekly call or during the call itself, as example in the last months we had to force the members to do the review of the OKRs of other members during the weekly call to be sure that they will do that.

This means that a proposal can require maybe 3-4 months very easily or that a lot of stuff in the meantime became obsolete (or to do from scratch again) because there are new OKRs or Mozilla changed the priorities (like for Mozilla Reps Mobilizer changed to Mission Driven Mozillians).

You can say, it is easy to keep aligned the rest of council, just update the GitHub issue or write it on Telegram (there is a specific group).
This is not happened often, I remembered that for a lot of weeks we had no idea of the tasks status of others members also because they wasn’t working on them (usually when someone don’t join the weekly call there was no stepping furhter on the OKRs).

Also often we didn’t have reviews from some members because they was disappeared or not active a lot, so we put a new rule.
If after a specific date there wasn’t enough feedback it was approved anyway and finished. The problem of this workflow was that not everyone was aligned or agreeing after, with all the issues that you can imagine.

 

Also there are other tasks for some council members like:

  • Lead the Mentor group, with onboarding new people, assign mentors to mentee, improve the SOPs
  • Lead the Onboarding group, organize screening round, communicate with applicants and the Screening team
  • Lead the Newsletter team, write and review this content with an approval by the council
  • Lead the Resources and Reviews teams

Usually this is one for person, to distribute it better, so 5 members has to take care of these tasks. When someone remembers that there is the needing of leading it, like it is happened with the Newsletter team (that for like 6 months there wasn’t updates).

When there is the changing of members, the moving of tasks is not easy because there is no call for these tasks. Or also how to help them on taking the role itself.

Yes a lot of things are changed, but is not enough to be a competitive program until this internal stuff are fixed.
We need more accountable Council members, we are all volunteers but at least let know to the rest of the team what are you doing and what is the status. Like in all the projects, from open source and business do, you cannot disappear.

Indeed, there was also a discussion about it https://discourse.mozilla.org/t/accountability-report-by-the-mozilla-reps-council-member/26882/.

Discuss it

As my way, when I finished the term I started 3 discussions to the community, that I was hoping to get more interest and discussion publically (I got people privately that reached me to discuss it):

We need to show publically our own point of view in a constructive way with suggestions and not ranting. In this the Reps Council helped me a lot to improve myself, for me is easy to rant but offer a solution (or more) is the first step to improve it and I used that process.

What the next council should do more compared to the previous one?

Be more accountable of what they are doing.

This is the reason why I am slowing down everything for Mozilla at international level. I prefer to work on my community because people are accountable and leave updates about what they are doing and not need someone that ping them.

Maybe it’s me but I hated that a lot (and probably I already said it), people that take a task and not doing, it is the most awful thing that you can do to a community that believe in you, gave the vote only (maybe) just to have free travels to All Hands and other “benefit”.

Improve (and explaining better) the SOPs

I tried during the time doing proposals that was dying for the long time on reviewing it or the OKRs that was taking more priorities (basically stuff outside them has a very low priority), but we have a lot of things to simplify and explain better.

A lot of reps are not updated/aligned about the Reps changes of the last years and few things are not very simplified as should be.

Improve the Reps portal

This always got a low priority because of missing contributors and resources from the Parsys team.

The portal is where the Rep should track what they are doing and discover what others do, also for the Council and for Mozilla is to discover what the community does.

Basically the usage is very low for a lot of reasons, but if we don’t motivate Reps to report what they are doing we are failing at start of the monopoly table game.

Conclusion

This post required months of works and thoughts.

I don’t want rant about one of the most important experiences of my life but I am ending this 2 turns disappointed and unhappy, because we as team could do more (and what we did wasn’t enough for my standards).

I want to say thank you to Konstantina for her help when I had any kind of issues, Michael for the huge amount of patience that had, Ruben for leading the Council and putting it better on the way, Henrik for his support on Parsys team without was very difficult to move on the program.

Thanks to all the people that voted me, I was very euphoric when I was elected for the first time. I lost that euphoria probably because I finished my energy on community management and I want to do more what I like to do, develop and moving on communities (without boundaries).

Also, Mozilla for me is not offering anymore very interesting on contributing like when i started with Firefox OS->WebExtensions->Tech Speaking, and other projects like Voice.Mozilla.org has my attention because are important for the community compared to others.

Now I am focusing on helping my Mozilla Italia community to grow and do more activities, looking for new opportunities that can be interesting and focusing more in the WordPress ecosystem (where there is my job and no limits).

Candidate again in the Council? Never, if the task management is not changing together with the accountability issues. During my term I was like a reference for the council like I was a Mozilla employee with helping others and discussing, but I am a volunteer and without gratification (thanks for the letter anyway again!) about what I am doing (is not enough).
As developer is easier to see results and appreciation about what I am doing and get meritocracy.

Probably I am growing and becaming an adult (also if I am 28 years old) and I hate to see this failures because there is no accountability. Let’s see in the future what will happen.

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My experience inside the Mozilla Reps Council in the last 2 years

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