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Mozilla Participation Lab
Team Lead: George Roter Mailing List: Participation on Discourse
The Mozilla Participation Lab will build a strategy and outline new approaches to participation that will bring a step-change in the value that participation brings to Mozilla and Mozillians.

What is the Mozilla Participation Lab?

The Mozilla Participation Lab is an initiative across Mozilla to architect a strategy and new approaches to participation.

The Participation Lab will explore three broad areas: First, strengthening the efforts of those who devote the most energy to Mozilla. Second, connecting people more closely to Mozilla’s mission and to each other. And third, thinking about organizational structure and practices that support participation.

The Participation Lab will have three related sets of activities:

1. Focused Experiments

Virtuous Circle

The Participation Team will initiate experiments, after consulting and coordinating with product/functional teams and volunteers, around particular hypotheses about where participation can bring value and impact in Mozilla. All of these experiments will be designed to move a top-line goal of Mozilla (the product side of the virtuous circle), and give volunteers/participants a chance to learn something, have impact or get some other benefit (the people side of the virtuous circle). If the experiments work, we’ll start to see an impact on our product goals and increased volunteer engagement.

These experiments will be built in a way that will assess whether the hypotheses are true, what’s required for participation to have impact, and what the return on investment is for our key products and programs, and for Mozillians.

In order to identify these experiments, our team has already talked with Mozilla staff and volunteers from all over the organization, plus Mozilla’s leadership (staff and volunteers). Our aim to is settle on and launch a first set of focused experiments over the next couple of weeks but you can learn more about the experiments and keep track of proposed ideas and ongoing planning on the Focused Experiments wiki page:


2. Distributed Experiments

The Participation Lab will be taking a systematic approach to learning about new initiatives and existing participation efforts going on all around Mozilla. In true Mozilla distributed style, we’re already trying out new approaches to participation all over the world; Buddy Up, TechSpeakers, Mozilla Hispano, Clubs, Marketpulse are just a few of many many examples.

How does an initiative fit?

An initiative fits if it meets two simple criteria:

  1. It is testing out a set of hypotheses about how participation can bring value and impact to our mission and to Mozillians, and
  2. We can work together to apply a systematic methodology for learning and evaluation.

Of course, it’s the leaders of these initiatives who can choose to be part of the Lab—we hope you do! To be upfront, this could mean a bit of extra work, but you can also access some resources and have an influence on our participation strategy. We think it’s worthwhile:

  • We will work together to apply a systematic learning and experimenting methodology.
  • You can unlock support from the Participation Team. This could be in the form of strategic or design advice; specific expertise (for example, volunteer engagement, building metrics or web development); helping you gather best practices from other organizations; or small amounts of money.
  • Your initiative will make a significant contribution to Mozilla’s overall participation strategy moving forward.

Find out more about the Distributed Experiments going on in and around Mozilla here:


3. Outside Ideas

The Participation Lab is bring together experts and capture world-leading ideas about participation from outside of Mozilla. View the list of the preliminary people we are aiming to reach out to here.

Learning Methodology

In order to architect radically new approaches to participation in Mozilla, we will need to dream up new methods and test them out to see if they work, learn systematically about what’s working and why (or what’s not working and why), and feed this into our next iteration of testing (or new experiments).

The Participation Lab has been developing a systematic methodology in order to measure fresh approaches to participation this quarter, which will help us test how participation can better achieve a strategic advantage for Mozilla.

Learn more about the learning methodology as it is developed, here:


Who’s Involved

In short, a broad set of Mozillians will be supported by a smaller team of staff and volunteers from the Participation Team. This team will coordinate various experiments in the Lab, curate the learning and make recommendations to Mozilla leaders and community members.

What’s The Result

The primary outputs of the Lab are:

  1. Produce and support a series of participation initiatives that result in more impactful and fulfilling participation toward reaching Mozilla’s goals. (Read more below about how what you’re working on right now can fit into this.)
  2. An evidence-based analysis of the effectiveness of specific participatory activities.
  3. Recommendations on how we might expand or generalize the activities that provided the most value to Mozilla and Mozillians.
  4. A preliminary assessment of the organizational changes we might consider in order to gain an even greater strategic advantage from participation.
  5. A set of learning resources and best practices packaged in a way that teams across Mozilla will be able to use to strengthen our collective participation efforts.
  6. Possibly, a series of strategic choices and opportunities for Mozilla leaders and community members to consider.

The first set of activities will take place primarily in Q2, wrapping up by early July, at which point we will assess what’s next for the Lab.

How You Can Participate

You have the opportunity to participate in the Lab and in shape the way forward for participation in Mozilla. Here’s how:

  1. Be part of the team. Do you want to have a big hand in shaping how Mozilla moves ahead on participation? In the coming couple of weeks we'll be starting some focused experiments. If these are problems you’re also excited about (or are already tackling), please get in touch. We’re certain that coders, marketers, project managers, designers, educators, facilitators, writers, evaluators, and more can make a big difference. Also, if you’re interested being part of the learning team that is tracking and synthesizing lessons from inside and outside Mozilla, please get in touch.
  2. Are you already running or planning a new participation initiative, or have an idea you’d like to get off the ground? Could you use some help from the Lab (and hopefully volunteers or other resources)? I’d love to have a conversation about whether your initiative can be part of the Participation Lab and how we can help.
  3. Can you think of someone we should be talking to, a book or article to read, or a community to engage? Pass it along. Or better yet, help us to get in touch with people outside of Mozilla or summarize the key lessons for participation.
  4. Follow along. We'd like many Mozillians to share their feedback and ideas. We'll be working out in the open with a home base on this wiki page.

Interested in getting involved? Send an email to George at: groter <at>

Context for the Lab

Participation Vision for 2017

In January, we laid out a Participation Plan for Mozilla that articulated an ambitious vision for participation in 2017:

  • Many more people working on Mozilla activities in ways that make Mozilla more effective than we can imagine today.
  • An updated approach to how people around the world are helping to build, improve and promote our products and programs.
  • A steady flow of ideas and execution for programs, products, and initiatives around the world—new and diverse activities that move the mission forward in concrete ways.
  • Ways for people to participate in our mission directly through our products—there is integration of participation into the use and value proposition.

Ultimately: more Mozilla activities than employees can track, let alone control.

While this vision describes where we want to be, we don’t yet know how we’re going to get there. The how is an important and explicit goal in the participation plan for 2015: Develop a bold long-term plan for radical participation at Mozilla.

Additional writing and resources