As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I joined Mozilla’s Community Building Team this year, to focus more deeply on supporting functional teams at Mozilla and help them better design for participation. Community building has taken center stage at Mozilla and one of our ambitious 2014 goals is to increase by x10 the number of active contributors to the project, with a special attention on 10 focus areas: Coding, Location Services, QA, User Research, Documentation, Localization, Privacy, Support, Web Compatibility.

One functional team I was tasked to support, and which has the particularity of directly supporting all of these 10 focus areas, is the fantastic Workplace Resources Team (aka WPR), the team at Mozilla responsible for building out our physical spaces around the world. To quote Rob Middleton, who leads WPR, “when we create the right space for people passionate about the open web, great outcomes happen and great products are made”. Over the past couple of years, WPR has invested heavily in building out beautiful community spaces within our offices to attract talent, strengthen community cohesion, become major contributor funnels. Community building has never been as important for the health of the project, and now that these spaces have been built out, the logical next step for WPR was to partner with the CBT. I was particularly excited to be tasked to work with WPR, not only because they are truly passionate about learning about contributing to Mozilla’s 10x goal mentioned above, but more importantly, Mozilla’s spaces have a unique role to play in connecting people to the plethora of contribution opportunities that exist.

Going into 2014 WPR (me personally) had a goal to figure out how to activate our community spaces within our MozSpaces to both utilize great spaces we have built for community engagement, along with being able to provide a vehicle to help people who have an interest in becoming active contributors a place to find out how to get involved. Without CBT's partnership this would still be a thought and not a reality. - Rob Middleton (Director, WPR)

While the CBT/WPR partnership is still in its infancy, we have already accomplished a great deal. The starting point was to agree on a community building strategy for spaces that evolves the informal, organic and ad hoc approach we used to have with our community spaces into a strategic, intentional and scalable one. To this end, we kicked off an experimental 3-month pilot project in the Mozilla Paris office (where I work from) to drive an aggressive community building event strategy in our community space (aka “Salle des Fêtes”) to see how many new contributors we can recruit when designing events with a community building focus, but also to help us gather learnings and best practices which we can ultimately apply to all our spaces around the world.

The pilot is run by two part-time space coordinators (Clarista and Axel) who are tasked to work with local staff and volunteers to run events specifically designed to connect potential active contributors to contribution opportunities from one of our 10 focus areas. More specifically, the goals that we have set ourselves for this pilot are to:

  • triple the number of events in our spaces every month
  • tie success metrics to each event
  • recruit at least 1 new active contributor per event (1)
  • train a team of 10 dedicated volunteers to work directly with WPR in the long term

Roughly one month into the pilot, the results have been staggering:

  1. We have gone from hosting a handful of events every month (ie. ~5) with no tracking of the impact of the events to hosting 15 events since last month with specific success metrics tied to them
  2. We have successfully recruited 19 new contributors, all around our 10 focus areas mentioned above
  3. We have identified 5 local volunteers who have expressed interest in joining WPR to help with events in the Paris space.

Obviously, the prism through which I’m analysing this pilot is community building, but the benefits of having an intentional, strategic and scalable approach to how we use our community spaces goes far beyond recruiting new contributors. Running these types of events in our spaces help us:

  • raise Mozilla's profile
  • promote our products and mission
  • strengthen exisiting ties with local community, industry partners, friends of Mozilla
  • educate and attract new audiences

Yes, we've only scratched the surface, but the headway WPR and CBT have made so far, working together, is clear. In fact, WPR is already exploring ways we can take community building further through space by running an experimental pilot for volunteer-run community spaces . This will be the object of my next blog post :)

More awesomeness to come!

(1) new active contributor = a person who has taken a significant action in support of a CBT focus area as a result of attending an event in the Mozilla Paris space