We are very engaging

Yesterday someone asked me what the engagement team is up to, and it made me sad because I realized I need to do a waaaaay better job of broadcasting my team’s work. This team is dope and you need to know about it.

As a refresher, our work encompasses these areas:

  • Grantwriting
  • Institutional partnerships
  • Marketing and communications
  • Small dollar fundraising
  • Production work (i.e. Studio Mofo)

In short, we aim to support the Webmaker product and programs and our leadership pipelines any time we need to engage individuals or institutions.

What’s currently on our plate:

Pro-tip: You can always see what we’re up to by checking out the Engagement Team Workbench.

These days we’re spending our time on the following:

  • End of Year Fundraising: With the help of a slew of kick-ass engineers, Andrea and Kelli are getting to $2M. (view the Workbench).
  • Mozilla Gear launch: Andrea and Geoffrey are obsessed with branded hoodies. To complement our fundraising efforts, they just opened a brand new site for people to purchase Mozilla Gear (view the project management spreadsheet).
  • Fall Campaign: Remember the 10K contributor goal? We do! An-Me and Paul have been working with Claw, Amira, Michelle, and Lainie, among others, to close the gap through a partner-based strategy (view the Workbench).
  • Mobile Opportunity: Ben is helping to envision and build partnerships around this work, and Paul and Studio Mofo are providing marketing, comms, and production support (the Mobile Opportunity Workbench is here, the engagement-specific work will be detailed soon).
  • Building a Webmaker Marketing Plan for 2015: The site and programs aren’t going to market themselves! Paul is drafting a comprehensive marketing calendar for 2015 that complements the product and program strategies. (plan coming soon)
  • 2015 Grants Pipeline: Ben and An-Me are always on the lookout for opportunities, and Lynn is responsible for writing grants and reports to fund our various programs and initiatives.
  • Additional Studio Mofo projects: Erika, Mavis, and Sabrina are always working on something. In addition to their work supporting most of the above, you can see a full list of projects here.
  • Salesforce for grants and partnerships: We’ve completed a custom Salesforce installation and Ben has begun the process of training staff to use it. Much more to come to make it a meaningful part of our workflow (Workbench coming soon).
  • Open Web Fellows recruitment: We’re supporting our newest fellowship with marketing support (view the Hype Plan)

How to Mofo

OpenMatt and I have been talking about the various ways of working at Mofo, and we compiled this list of what we think works best. What do y’all Mofos think?

When starting a new project:

  • Clearly state the problem or goal. Don’t jump ahead to the solution. Ameliorating the problem is what you’ll measure success against, not your ability to implement an arbitrary solution.
  • Explicitly state assumptions. And, whenever possible, test those assumptions before you build anything. You may have assumptions about the nature of the problem you’re trying to solve, who’s experiencing it, or your proposed solution.
  • Have clear success metrics. How will you know if you’re winning? Do you have the instruments you need to measure success?
  • Determine what resources you need. Think about design, development, content, engagement, evaluation, and ongoing maintenance. We’re working on improving the ways we allocate resources throughout the organization, but to start, be clear about what resources your project will need.
  • Produce a project brief. Detail all of the above in a single document. (Example templates here and here.) Use the project brief when you…
  • …Have a project kick-off meeting. Invite *all* the stakeholders to get involved early.


  • Have a check-in plan. Will you have daily check-ins? Weekly email updates? How are you checking in and holding each other accountable?
  • Build a workbench and keep it updated.  We recommend a wiki page that will serve as a one-stop shop for anyone needing information about the project. Things to include: links to project briefs and notes, logistics for meetings, a timeline, a list of who’s involved, and, of course, bugs! Examples here, here, and here.
  • Put your notes in one spot.  A single canonical pad for notes and agendas. We don’t need to create a  new pad every time you have a meeting or a thought! That makes them very hard to track and find later. Examples here and here.

Doing the do:

  • Plan in two-week heartbeats. This helps us stay on track and makes it clear what the priorities are. Speaking of priorities…
  • Learn the Fine Art of Prioritizing. Hint: Not everything can be P1. The product owner or project manager should rank tasks in order of value added. Remember: prioritization is part of managing workflow. It may be true that all or most of the tasks are required for a successful launch, but that doesn’t help a developer or designer who’s trying to decide what to work on next.
  • Work with your friendly neighborhood Tactical Priorities Syndicate. The name sounds scary, but they’re here to serve you. They meet weekly to get your priorities into each two-week heartbeat process. https://wiki.mozilla.org/Webmaker/TPS

Update: To hack on the next version of this, please visit http://workopen.org/mofo (thanks to Doug for the suggestion!)

Talking to people

At the beginning of October, I went to Austin for the Digital PM Summit, which is an amazingly useful gathering of digital project managers, now in its second year. I was invited to speak about Retrospectives—my favorite topic! I enjoyed putting together a presentation and talking with some really talented PMs about how to create a culture of experimentation and continuous improvement.

Then, earlier this week, I had the opportunity to talk with the very smart and fun YNPN Launchpad Fellows about how to apply Agile methodologies to non-technical projects in nonprofit organizations. I’m becoming a little obsessed with non-technical applications of Agile (see ScrumYourWedding, coming soon!)

I <3 talking to people!

Kayaks, Nachos, Pipelines, and Funnels, or: The Mofo Engagement Fall Work Week

Last week, the Mofo Engagement Team and Friends (terrible band name) met in Toronto for some some serious boating, eating, and hacking.

Prelude: With some much appreciated assistance from Erika, I got over my fear of boats and managed to canoe up and down a bit of the Humber river during our pre-work week Super Engagement Team Fun Day. We may not have been fast, but we had style (assuming your definition of style includes crashing into the riverbank). Later, I tricked several of my co-workers into ordering giant platters of nachos at Sneaky Dee’s. It was a cheesy, oversized start to the work week.

On to the work-y part!

The agenda was ambitious. We had four concurrent tracks, each with their own projected outcomes:

  • The set-up for the End of Year fundraising campaign
  • The creative brief, RACI, and roadmap for the Fall Webmaker Sales Campaign
  • The 2015 Grants Pipeline
  • And the partnership strategy, systems, and sales team for growing Webmaker

Did we achieve what we wanted to achieve?

All that, and more.

The End of Year Fundraising team was on fire. The project had been well-prepped in advance, so the team was able to use the work week as a sprint and deliver a slew of prototypes and designs. They tackled the snippet, optimized donation forms including a brand new sequential flow, localization, the fundraising.mozilla.org website redesign, overarching branding, and even an awesome community marketing idea.

The Partnerships team had several rich conversations where they identified possible partners, clarified roles, and simulated the entire sales flow using human props, sticky notes, and impressive improv skills. (I left that session with a post-it note on my laptop that read, “Why would clown mentors come back to the site?” A question for the ages.)

A centerpiece of the Fall Webmaker Campaign is the post-sales funnel which includes custom partner landing pages and a choose-your-own-adventure style event wizard to help people get started with one of three easy/fun Maker Party events. The entire funnel got spec’ed and wireframed and the Event Wizard got some design love during the work week.

(Note: The Partnerships track and the Fall Webmaker Campaign track were largely merged into a single Fall Webmaker Campaign with elements including sales, marketing, design, and product dev. The campaign is focused on reaching our 10K contributor goal, and will leverage key partners with large networks. In addition to honing our value proposition to partners, we’ll also use the opportunity to refine our marketing funnel. Later, we’ll go out and introduce a broader addressable audience to the top of the funnel. At that point, there will be a clear distinction between sales and marketing, but for the Fall campaign, we’re working in tandem.)

The 2015 Grants Pipeline team got to spend some quality time with our brand new Salesforce installation. They make web-to-lead forms, trigger events, and dashboards seem downright glamorous!


Does this seem like a lot of stuff? That’s because it is a lot of stuff! But never fear, it’s all summarized on the Engagement Team Workbench. (You can also see a complete list of what we delivered during the work week here.)

I was amazed at how much was accomplished during the work week. My co-workers are some of the raddest, most capable and action-oriented people I’ve had the privilege of knowing. Lucky me to be a part of it!

On Retrospectives

Last week I convened a small, cross-functional team for a half hour debrief of the work we’d done together on last month’s Net Neutrality trainings and tweetchat. The trainings and tweetchat were largely successful efforts, but this debrief was to discuss the process of working together.

Here’s how we did it:

  • First I sent around an etherpad with some questions. There was a section for populating a timeline of the entire process from conception to completion. And there were sections for capturing what worked well, and what people felt could be improved upon.
  • As people added their thoughts to the etherpad, it became clear to me that a Vidyo chat would be useful. There were differences of opinion and indications of tension that I felt ought to be surfaced and discussed.
  • Everyone took 30 minutes out of their busy schedules to meet over Vidyo, which I totally appreciated! I started the meeting by stating my goal which was to reach a shared agreement about two or three concrete things we would try to do more of or less of in the future.
  • I would have loved to have had a full hour, as I felt we were just starting to surface the real issues near the end of the call. It felt a little strange to have to cut off the conversation right when we were getting into it.
  • In the short time we had, we were able to touch on what I think were probably the most salient points from the pad, and everyone had a chance to speak. We also identified four concrete things to do differently in the future. By those measures, I think the debrief was successful.
  • Some additional takeaways were shared via email after the call, and I think everyone is committed to making this the start of an ongoing process of continuous improvement.

I called this a “debrief” because it was a relatively unstructured conversation looking back at the end of a project. In my mind, a debrief is one flavor of a larger category of what I’d call “retrospecting behaviors.”

Here are some thoughts about what makes a good retrospective:

You don’t need to save retrospecting for the end. Retrospectives are different from post-mortems in this way. You can retrospect at any point during a project, and, in fact, for teams that work together consistently, retrospectives can be baked into your regular working rhythm.

First thing’s first: start with a neutral timeline. It’s amazing how much we can forget. Spend a couple minutes re-creating an objective timeline of what happened leading up to the retrospective. Use calendars, emails, blog posts, etc. to re-create the major milestones that occurred.

Bring data. If possible, the facilitator should bring data or solicit data from the team. Data can include so many things! Here are just a few examples:

  • Quantitative and qualitative measures of success.
  • Data about how long things took to finish.
  • Subjective experiences: each team member’s high point and low point. One word or phrase from each team member describing their experience.

Be ready for the awkward. For a breakthrough to happen, you often have to go through something uncomfortable first. No one should feel unsafe or attacked, of course, but transformation happens when people have the courage to speak and hear painful truths. Not every retrospective will feel like a group therapy session, but surfacing tensions in productive, solution-oriented ways is good for teams.

Despite their name, retrospectives are about the future. The outcome of any retrospective (whether it’s a team meeting, or 5 minutes of solo thinking time at your desk) should be at least one specific thing you’d like to do differently in the future. Make it visible to you and your teammates.

A “Do Differently” is a specific and immediately actionable experiment. Commit to trying something different just for a week. Because the risk is low (it’s just a week!), you can try something pretty dramatic. Choose something you can start right away.  “Let’s try using Trello for a week” or “Let’s see if having a 10-minute check-in each morning reduces confusion.”

Retrospectives often also inspire one-time actions and new rules. One-time actions are things like, “We need to do a CRM training for the team” or “We should update our list of vendors because no one knew who to call when we ran into trouble.” New rules are things like, “We should start every project with a kick-off meeting, no matter how small the project is.”

Both one-time actions and new rules are important, and should be captured and assigned a responsible person. But they are not the same as “Do Differentlys” which are meant to create a culture of experimentation that is necessary for continuous improvement.

It’s not about how well you followed a process; it’s about how well the process is serving the goals. This is another difference between retrospectives and post-mortems. Whereas in a post-mortem, you might be discussing what you did “right” and “wrong” (i.e. how well you adhered to some agreed upon rules or norms), in a retrospective you discuss what “worked” and “didn’t work” (which might lead to changing those norms).

Celebrate. Retrospectives are occasions to recognize the good as well as the bad. I won’t lie. Some of my favorite retrospectives involved cake.

What would you add to or change about the above list?

Maker Party Engagement: Weeks 6 and 7

Weeks 6 and 7!

tl;dr highlights:

  • ~60K new Webmaker account holders coming from the snippet (including the wildly successful hackable snippet) and the new landing pages (see Adam’s recent post on the month-long process of refining that entire funnel)
  • new user experience for partners and others is in the works
  • starting to see some results from paid media

Overall stats:

  • Contributors: 5996 (up from 5552 two weeks ago)
  • Webmaker accounts: 174.4 (up from 124K two weeks ago)
  • Events: 2238 (up from 1799 two weeks ago)
  • Hosts: 605 (up from 493 two weeks ago)
  • Expected attendees: 108,500 (up from 76,200 two weeks ago)
  • Cities: 403 (up from 362 two weeks ago)


Engagement Strategy #1: PARTNER OUTREACH

Over the past couple weeks, we started focusing on a new experience for partners—this will allow us to walk a potential partner through the process of creating an event on the platform using a “choose your own adventure” style wizard with three event types. (The etherpad where the experience is being sketched out is here.)

Though we started this work with partners in mind, we’ve realized it can potentially be used by other Webmaker users (see Earned Media section below.)


Engagement Strategy #2: ACTIVE MOZILLIANS

Helping the FSA community managers track FSA involvement in Maker Party is in the works: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1061753


Engagement Strategy #3: OWNED MEDIA

Snippet Funnel:

Adam has a fantastic post summarizing learnings from our snippet funnel work so far. His main takeaway regarding process:

Prioritize time and permission for testing, with a clear shared objective, and get just enough people together who can make the work happen.

Adam and Andrea already reported on the success of the hackable snippet, which increased our end-to-end conversion rate significantly. The hackable snippet will be replaced soon (due to the typical “snippet fatigue” that we always see), but we are now motivated to try similar experiments in the future.

Here are some highlights from the Twitterverse:
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The new user experience for partners described in the Partners section above may be re-purposed as the end of this funnel. In the meantime, we released a temporary page that we hope will funnel people towards an immediate contribution. The page asks people to pledge to teach someone about the web. In the first three days, nearly 3,000 people made the pledge.

Suggestion: let’s be sure to begin this work earlier in the 2015 Maker Party campaign, so that we can best take advantage of the snippet traffic during the campaign.


Engagement Strategy #4: EARNED MEDIA


The hackable snippet got a mention from Cory Doctorow: http://boingboing.net/2014/08/27/firefoxs-new-start-page-is-a.html

The Buenos Aires Media Party got quite a bit of press. Here’s some of what we know about:


PAID MEDIA (we’ve never considered this a major strategy for Maker Party)

Several weeks ago, Adam made some changes to our Google AdWords campaign that seem to have had a bit of an impact on results. After weeks of seeing miniscule click-through rates, we finally saw some movement when we shifted the ad target to the United Kingdom and India.  A generic ad promoting Webmaker (not Maker Party) has generated 4,679 click-throughs and and 92 new accounts so far.

This is still a minor channel for us, but it’s good to know that we can generate some interest with our AdWords grant.

Maker Party Engagement Week 5

Week 5!

tl;dr highlights of the week:

  • Though we saw significant jumps in Wm accounts and events, our Contributor numbers did not increase accordingly
  • We’re identifying many opportunities from the partner calls
  • Hack the Snippet is coming soon, along with the next iteration of the snippet funnel
  • The TweetChat created a temporary increase in Twitter engagement, but took attention away from press

Overall stats:

  • Contributors: 5552 (2% increase from last week’s 5441)
  • Webmaker accounts: 124K (17% increase from last week’s 106.3K)
  • Events: 1799 (crazy 50% jump from last week’s 1199)
  • Hosts: 493 (10% increase from last week’s 450)
  • Expected attendees: 76,200  (23% increase from 61,910)
  • Cities: 362 (40% increase from 260 – what caused this jump?)
  • Traffic: here’s the last three weeks. We continue to see the major boost from the snippet.


  • And the Webmaker user account conversion rate increased a bit further:



Engagement Strategy #1: PARTNER OUTREACH

We are learning a lot from the partner calls. Here are some of the most salient takeaways (borrowing from Amira and Melissa’s notes during Friday’s call):

Partner trends
  • Partners see value in badging their event mentors, speakers and volunteers as a form of appreciation. But there is a potential for those who receive the badges to have no idea who is badging them or what it means (lack of connection to MP). Opportunity: We need to better explain to people why they’ve received a badge and why they might want to create a Webmaker account.
  • Partners are doing things but we just haven’t captured them.  Opportunity: We need to offer real value to users in order to increase the amount of sharing/broadcasting/badging that happens through the site. 
  • Some people need way more training — Opportunity: this is where the event wizard might play a role; there also might be an opportunity to run TTT within certain orgs and spaces.
  • We need to clarify our value statement for partners. It may not be in  adding numbers to their events or traction to their programs/site, or getting press for non-Hive partners. Instead it may be in providing resources and curriculum. We can better segment partners into affinity groups (e.g. afterschool programs) and provide content, trainings, resources, CTAs specifically for them.  We can also localize those offerings to reduce hand-holding.
  • People don’t understand how broad our definition of Maker Party is: everyday events, small events, stands/booths/tables within other events — have to push them to realize that and include all of these on the events platform (note from HK: I would argue we have to offer them a reason to)
  • Opportunity: There’s the summer wave and back to school waves. We need to have strategies and actions towards both.
  • Challenges:
    • Age and time continue to be a blocker for new Wm accounts.
    • Mass emails to order swag, upload events, share information just didn’t work. They need 1-to-1.
    • We lost interest by a lot of people along the way. There’s a good 20-30% we will not be able to bring back in.
    • Parties sound like fun kid-like things (making toys etc.)
    • Getting the Maker Party logo/brand included in event promotion in a meaningful way is not happening, and the meaning behind the brand seems to cause confusion in some cases.

PROMOTIONAL PARTNERS: We continue to see only a tiny amount of referrals from promotional partner urls with RIDs.


Engagement Strategy #2: ACTIVE MOZILLIANS

Haven’t heard anything this week, but Amira and I are meeting with the FSA Community Manager on Monday of this week.


Engagement Strategy #3: OWNED MEDIA

Snippet Funnel:

The snippet funnel continues to perform well in terms of driving traffic. We’re aiming to beat a baseline 1.8% conversion rate.

We were a bit blocked by technical issues this week and weren’t able to release the new tailored account signup pages, but we continue to work on that.

The “hack the snippet” test was delayed, but will be live soon. We have a comms strategy around it (for after it’s been tested).


Engagement Strategy #4: EARNED MEDIA

Press this week:

Aside from a cross-post of last week’s Washington Post Magazine story (http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/workinglife/want-a-tech-job-what-to-study-in-a-fast-moving-field/2193050), we didn’t see press this week. We were focused on our Net Neutrality tweetchat instead.

SOCIAL (not one of our key strategies):

As expected, the Tweetchat temporarily increased our Twitter engagement for a two-day period—we saw double the usual amount of favorites, retweets, and replies. You can view the Storify here: https://storify.com/mozilla/net-neutrality-tweet-chat-from-mozilla-s-teaminter

The #MakerParty trendline for this week is back up to where it had been two weeks ago: 



See #MakerParty tweets here: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23makerparty