Impact teams: a new approach for functional impact at Reps

When the new participation plan was forming one of the first questions was: how can the Reps program enable more and deeper participation in Mozilla? We know that Reps are empowering local and regional communities and have been playing an important role in various project like Firefox OS launches, but there wasn’t an organized and more importantly scalable way to provide support to functional teams at Mozilla. The early attempts of the program to help connect volunteers with functional areas were the Special Interest Groups (SIG). Although in some cases and for some periods of time the SIGs worked very well and were impactful, they wasn’t sustainable in the long run. We couldn’t provide a structure that ensured mutual benefit and commitment.

With the renewed focus on participation we’re trying to think differently about the way that Reps can connect to functional teams, align with their goals and participate in every part of Mozilla. And this is where the “Impact teams” come in. Instead of forming loose interest groups, we want to form teams that work well together and are defined by the impact they are having, as well as excited by future opportunity to not only have deeper participation but personal growth as part of a dedicated team where colleagues include project staff.

The idea of these new impact teams is to make sure that the virtuous circle of mutual benefit is created. This means that we will work with functional teams to ensure that we find participation opportunities for volunteers that have direct impact on project goals, but at the same time we make sure that the volunteers will benefit from participating, widening their skills, learning new ones.


These teams will crystallize through the work on concrete projects, generating immediate impact for the team, but also furthering the skills of volunteers. That will allow the impact team to take on bigger challenges with time: both volunteers and functional teams will learn to collaborate and volunteers with new skills will be able to take the lead and mentor others.

We’re of course at the beginning and many questions are still open. How can we organize this in an agile way? How can we make this scalable? Will the scope of the role of Reps change if they are more integrated in functional activities? How can we make sure that all Mozillians, Reps and non Reps are part of the teams? Will we have functional mentors? And we think the only way to answer those questions is to start trying. That’s why we’re talking to different functional areas, trying to find new participation opportunities that provide value for volunteers. We want to learn by doing, being agile and adjusting as we learn.

The impact teams are therefore not set in stone, we’re working with different teams, trying loose structures and specially putting our energy into making this really beneficial for both functional teams and volunteers. Currently we are working to the Marketplace team, the Firefox OS Market research team and the developer relations team. And we’ll be soon reaching out to Mozillians and Reps who have a track record in those areas to ask them to help us build these impact teams.

We’re just at the beginning of a lot of pilots, tests, prototypes. But we’re excited to start moving fast and learn! We have plenty of work to do and many questions to answer, join us in shaping these new impact teams. Specially help us now how your participation at Mozilla can benefit your life, make you grow, learn, develop yourself. Emma Irwin is working on making education a centerpiece of participation, but do you have any other ideas? Share them with us!

4 thoughts on “Impact teams: a new approach for functional impact at Reps

  1. One thing that is implicit in what you’ve described, and which I really like, is that impact teams only exist as long as they have impact for Mozilla and for participants. If the team is ineffective for Mozilla, or participants don’t get something out of it, or the need for it passes, it can dissolve, and that’s OK. That provides the freedom to experiment, possibly fail, and then improve or move on.

    1. Janet, that’s an excellent point. I realize that there is a lot of things implied here. So thanks for pointing that out. I should probably follow up with more details and try to be more clear.

  2. How do we overcome the problems we had with SIG’s in the first place? They existed and had staff POC’s but ultimately they all became stagnate because staff were too busy with their full time roles to actually put effort into the SIG? This seems like an issue that has not yet been solved and that CBT was trying to crack.

  3. I like where this is going, centered around making an impact and personal development. One thing that might be helpful and help answer one of the comments above is having a clear defined outcome for the impact teams. For example when we implemented the challenges last fall impact was clearly defined so we knew when that challenge was over. I am not saying the impact team meets its goal and its over but maybe it meets its goal and then evaluated on what the next step is. And everyone should be ok with it if the team is no longer needed in its current form, maybe its dispanned or maybe it morphs into something else or maybe it continues as is. The structure should give us good learnings.

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