Love me or hate me.. What I have to say is what I have to say.
Last week, I took time out to watch the video of the two town halls.
The first thing I want to touch base on is the on the general town hall where I asked a question. The question I asked was "Support plays an important role when it comes down to users. How can we make users and others across Mozilla more aware of the support team?". Jay responded to this (summarized) saying "SUMO plays 2 key roles... [the first key role] is supporting our users in the field and helping them solve problems, [where the second key role] can be exciting too, it's that our support team is on the front lines of learning's that are coming back feeding that into the product groups". With that said, Jay continue to say "In terms of getting SUMO and Support more visibility and recognition, there is a few ways to do it, one team that did a great job about this was the User research team. [They were able to] get out and explain what they do, why it matters and why you may need help from them. More blogging, more brownbags, more communication, ask your peers about what's worked. I don't have a great canned solution..."
Many contributors/ volunteers may believe that there are more key roles that SUMO is playing, however volunteers are not aware of what is being talked about and/ or discussed about in the back. I believe we should be more open and that volunteers should be communicated with more. There is for sure a challenge with getting some of the high-level volunteers who do not use IRC to communicate or through Vidyo/ dial in to communicate with the rest of the staff/ other volunteers. I understand it is hard to accommodate for each and every individual's needs and preference(s) for communication. With these challenges, open communication to volunteers is still key and crucial.
The support site (SUpport.MOzilla.org) is mainly volunteer driven and ran. Staff do play a more important role in keeping brand and volunteers together. Unfortunately volunteer are rarely recognized for their work, that being said, there have been several attempts by the staff to do so. The effort placed in by the staff is important and crucial and it counts but some volunteers may seek for or may want for more recognition. Recognition does not always have to necessarily mean public recognition. Volunteers come and go all the time as they eventually burn themselves out.
A measurable top line goal for this year (2014) is to increase active contributors to Mozilla’s target initiatives by 10x, with “Active contributor” being defined as someone who has contributed measurable impact to a top line goal. How is SUMO staff and volunteers impacting the top line goal if communication, recognition and visibility isn't working properly or isn't needed. Many SUMO volunteers answer a ton of questions daily on the support forum, help keep articles updated or report issues with articles/ questions. They rarely get anything in return. Now, I'm not saying that we should be expecting anything in return but in terms of the learning I've been through on leadership. It takes tremendous work to be a great leader. Our leaders at SUMO are great! However, they could step it up a notch as there are many factors to being a leader and some aren't being shown. But if I take for example Mitchell at the Directory Tile Town Hall, she wasn't able to give a crisp and clear yes or no answer which she admitted that she can't as a leader, but she was able to acknowledge that fact that we're are almost there. This is key, this is golden. Having the ability to admit and speak really takes guts. Mitchell was also able to highlight many things to being a leader and to having great success.
The key to having great success is listening, the staff at SUMO definitely listens but there are points where issues are asked to be taken offline when an issue is presented in a video meeting. This discourages volunteers to ask more questions in the future as they feel that they will be shut down again. In my opinion, if there is a time set for staff to take time out to report to each other and the volunteers (community) through video, why should topics be taken offline where a response takes a whole lot longer to receive. The contributor may want a crisp and clear answer and it doesn't mean it has to be right away but there should be a discussion happening when volunteers are given the opportunity to ask their question(s) to their peers - it shouldn't be about, identifying the flaws, how it doesn't work, that there's this 1% chance of making it work. This is time set aside to discuss and talk, not time to wave and get through a few things and to be done with.
At this moment, there have been some controversy in regards to directory tiles. Some say that if it doesn't work well for our users in the end, we won't deliver it. However as Mitchell pointed out, "we are almost there". It takes skills to admit that. Mitchell is somebody we can look up to. With all the work, dedication and enthusiasm placed in to announce this (placing ads in the directory tiles) to all of Mozilla means/ shows that it has gone through many phases. To in the end say we won't deliver it, will definitely show to everybody that nobody did their job well enough at the planning table and nobody took into account the end result. Mozilla is full of talented, intelligent, bright and hard working people. We should be able to be more open when communicating, we shouldn't be afraid of retaliation when we speak out about the issues that are present. The issues presented shouldn't be avoided neither should it shut the person up. An alternative solution shouldn't be placed in either. I feel that we should also be more clear and direct because I for example am somebody who is clear and direct. I prefer not to use words and talk in a way where people will ask for re-clarification, we should just be straight forward and just come out with what we have to say using common sense when communicating and talking.
Lastly, I just want to speak briefly on Yammer since I included a lot about open communication. I recently joined Yammer thanks for Mardi Douglass who is gathering all summit attendees to reconnect. It's been 4 months since the summit, had Yammer been introduced right after or during the summit to increase participation, communication would be more broad and open. Yammer is full of information that is insightful. Yammer isn't available to the public which resembles mana.mozilla.org which is a staff/employees only wiki. Obviously there are things that volunteers can't be allowed to know but is what is all on mana.mozilla.org not allowed to be seen by volunteers? If Mozilla committed to being open why are there things to hide? There are the aspects of no spam in private protected areas and many other reasons.
Read this on my blog: http://feer56.ca/?p=75
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