So there has been quite a set of discussions on mailing lists regarding the vision statement for Firefox. Lots of the talk has been about the minutia of various parts of it. I had posted much of what is being said here to the mozilla.dev.planning thread/group; so if you read my comments there this is going to be redundant and I suggest you skip this post. I wanted to blog about it as I think some of what I am trying to focus on is getting buried among the rest of the discussion. Beyond that longer content I want to call attention to 2 items, one specific to the vision statement itself and one on the general idea of vision statements.
This sort of thing (leadership, etc.) is a passion of mine, I am part of a group that teaches advanced leadership skills to adult leaders for the BSA. These are not just outdoor camping kinds of things, we have other courses for that, these are skills leaders need to be successful not just in BSA but just about anywhere. One of the very first things we teach, and I had the honor of leading this part of the course last year, is what we call Values, Vision and Mission. Where we try to impart some wisdom in how you get groups to move towards a common goal given a common understanding. I want to focus on the vision part and I may blog on the other parts another time but for completeness here I am going to cover a small part of them to be clear.
As the name implies it starts with a shared set of values, which I think Mozilla has strongly in its DNA  if not always stated in the most clear fashion, but I am not going to spend time on that as I want to focus on this particular issue here. Stated simply, values are what we believe in and how we will behave and it is from them that we derive a vision.
For me a vision forms when we think far enough ahead to realize there will be important challenges that we can prepare for now, perhaps by doing something simple. And it has some distinct characteristics:
■ A vision engages the heart and spirit.
■ A vision leads toward a worthwhile goal.
■ A vision gives meaning to an effort.
■ A vision is simple.
■ A vision is attainable.
■ A vision can change over time.
Now that we we have a basis for a vision, lets take a look at the proposed Vision for Firefox, mind you this is for the product _not_ Mozilla as a whole. I see some of these things in the what has been proposed:
“Discover, experience and connect with apps, websites and people on your own terms, everywhere.”
This one-liner is the place I want to focus outside the wordiness of the rest of the document, this one statement is the heart of the matter. It’s this one statement that seeks to “rally the troops” to a common goal and build missions that ultimately make it a reality. Personally, I think it’s lacking enough of the criteria above that it needs some word-smithing, I would put it more like:
Firefox will be the premier platform for users to discover, experience, connect with and further the open web on every platform and on their terms.
This is much more clear and to the point, it states exactly what I think should be the focus of this vision, namely Firefox. It leads towards a goal, with some specificity that we want every platform; especially the mobile one that is where we see danger right not of fragmentation and loss of an open web. I think it gives meaning to our efforts for users, to place them firmly at the center of what we do, whether they be individuals, developers, corporate or whatever. I think this is attainable and is simple enough to be clear. It might change over time, only time will tell as that is the nature of time. As such I think this version meets the criteria and keeps the original intent.
The goal here is to get the fabulous team we have focuses on a common goal and the tasks needed to achieve it. Right now I think they are spinning wildly trying to interpret it and while discussion is good if we cant get on the same target we can’t achieve it.
As always these views are my own and not necessarily that of my employer, namely Mozilla.