Expanding Mozilla Reps program for leadership development

Continuing Reps' track discussion from the Mozilla Portland Workweek, one key topic that we schemed through & pinned to come back later, was to: Use The Mozilla Reps Program for Regional Leadership Development.

Mitchell & Mark is highly interested and enthusiastic about autonomous & self-correcting local/regional leadership setups. A structure* that is highly distributed, interconnected, inclusive, autonomous, propagating and meritocratic in form.

* This is my understanding, listening to various discussions & keynotes. In case this is misinterpreted - please do correct me.

UPDATE: while I was at it, working on this blog for last 3 days (2G Internet, go figure :P), Rosana has already shared her thoughts on Reps' blog (crazy-weird, even the titles sound the same :D). You may choose to read that first to get the sense of where is it going.

Following is my take on how can it be planned and implemented.

Why ReMo?

Obvious first question comes, why Reps program to integrate with or, as the nursery to the leadership development? There are two parts to the answer:

1. ReMo is a viable platform

Initially developed as the platform to empower local Mozillians with logistical support for community engagement, Mozilla Reps has grown itself to become the key interface between the local Mozilla communities & the Mozilla corp. Over the course of last four years, it has grown almost exponentially, and is probably the largest global FOSS contributor engagement program.

Naturally, the visibility of the local leadership (from inside the corp/prod) is easier, through the Reps program. Furthermore, it has a fairly well developed governance/mentorship model. Most of the local leaders are already connected with the program, and hence, a leadership development effort inside Reps is a lower hanging challenge.

2. Alternatives are less viable

Any other comparative platform inside Mozilla has far less reach and focus to piggyback an effort like this; and any brand new standalone effort for Leadership development may require lots of reinvention of the same wheels; in most cases, with the same set of people, creating fragmentation & introducing governance model overheads.

Proposed extension model

To accommodate the new added responsibility, Reps program must be extended beyond its current model. Let's think of an equally flat, yet, functionally differentiated model:

ReMo Structure

This opens up a prospect of defining category of Reps.

There are some special interest groups and task forces of Reps; massively underexplored in most cases. Primarily so, because Reps were recruited for same general purpose - driving engagement efforts in local communities. Secondary interests varied, but they never were very important pieces of the model.

Under new model, the traditional reps can be called "Engagement* Reps"; the ones with focus for event organization & managing logistics.

There will be another group of Reps, "Leader* Reps", with primary focus for community building, community growth & propagation of responsibility.

This model, though initially tweaked to accommodate the leadership development, is actually capable of going generic & open to accept more challenges (say, "Evangelism* Reps" next up) without much added/incremental effort, once set up.

* Engagement Reps, Leader Reps, Evangelism Reps - these terms aren't set in stone. Think of them to be more like Boot2Gecko than Firefox OS.

Leadership Qualities

Before we get into explaining how to screen & recruit the Mozillians to be the leaders, let's first talk about what are the attributes which make a leader. To add to that, just the regular Leadership qualities won't do. We need Leaders in the Mozilla world; which means the obvious need for MozFactors.

I looked into several resources, and a common theme of defined-trait based leadership model has several (relevant) theories. Some theories have even tried to quantify/weigh the impact of each trait as well. I've tried to summarize the common traits in a leader, as they turn up often across various institutions (business to military), roles (team-lead to org-lead) & studies (traditional to modern).

Primary Secondary Tertiary
Openness (0.24) Integrity (0.29) Thriving
Conscientiousness (0.28) Charisma (0.57) Empathetic
Extraversion (0.31) Intelligence (---) Analytic
Agreeableness (0.08) Creativity (0.31) Confident
Neuroticism* (-0.24) Motivation (0.23) Resourceful

MozFactors (not covered by the regular leadership traits) were discussed to be: Inclusiveness, Responsibility Delegation, Succession Plan, Collaborative Decision Making etc. (check the images at the end, snapped from discussion whiteboard).


Screening & Recruiting

To properly accommodate, there will be very minimal, yet distinctive changes to the screening process to recruit Reps.

ReMo Recruiting

In a nutshell, the steps are:

  • Data-driven Yep/Nope pre-flagging of the Reps' Application bugs

  • Temporary/Generalist Mentor assigned for screening & orientation.
  • Passed through screening, Rep falls into the Orientation/Probation bucket.
  • Completing Orientation, a Rep graduates the program. (S)he is given access to Reps' tools & assigned to a permanent mentor.
  • Failing to graduate, or inactivity after graduation will result in being sent to the Orientation bucket again.

Notes from workweek discussion board (right click > view (full) image)

Wrapping Up

This is just the first stab on planning/strategizing Reps as the Mozilla Leadership Development Platform. Skipped many details (some obvious, some less so), and I have a lot to add to this... you may have even more!

Let's get started. ;)