[kde-community] Vision, mission and manifesto - what is their definition and purpose?
thomas.pfeiffer at kde.org
Tue Feb 9 21:56:32 UTC 2016
analyzing the current discussions around the KDE Vision, I have identified one
problem which could underlie much of the tension:
It's still unclear what we mean by "vision", "mission" and "manifesto". We
cannot really consult a dictionary or encyclopedia to answer this, because
there is no clear definition. Heck, even the Wikipedia articles on vision and
mission contradict each other and are even contradicting in themselves!
That means that every one of us probably has a slightly different definition of
The problem now is that we are wasting time and energy debating
unproductively, not because we want different things, but because we have
never agreed on a common definition of the three.
That's why I'd suggest that, before discussing the vision any further, we
should agree on a definition. It doesn't have to be one with which everybody
wholeheartedly agrees, because it's mostly used for communication.
To start this, here are my proposed definitions:
Definition: For me, this is what documents the defining _values_ and _identity_
of an organization (or rather a movement, because regular organizations rarely
Answered question: What is KDE? What makes a KDE member?
Purpose: To make explicit what a movement has in common, as a guide for
someone who wants to decide if they want to be part of that movement and to
remind people of why they are part of it, should they ever gravitate away from
these values and identity.
Definition: For me, a vision describes the future which an organization or
movement wants to work towards. It doesn't say _when_ that future has to be
achieved, nor _how_ . It ideally should not change, unless the community
collectively sees their goal as wrong.
(Note that this is the definition of a vision for an organization or movement.
Product visions are very different from that, they can go into much more
Answered questions: Why do we do what we're doing? What do we aim for?
Purpose: To guide contributors when they decide what to focus their energy on.
With every decision they make, they should ask "Does this bring us closer to
the future we want to work towards?"
Definition: For me, a mission describes _how_ an organization or movement
intends to achieve their vision. It is on a much more strategic level than the
vision, and likely to change over time through changing circumstances or trial
Answered question: How do we reach our goals?
Purpose: To align efforts, achieve synergies and avoid duplicate effort. It
guides contributors who are not sure what strategy to follow.
Of course the lines are always a bit blurry, but I still find it beneficial for
the effectiveness of our discussion to take a step back and try to agree on a
common understanding of the three terms above.
We should set aside differences in our actual preferred visions for this,
because the purpose here is just to make communication easier by using a
So, please speak up if you
- Disagree with some part of the definitions so strongly that you cannot even
work with them
- Would like to propose further clarification of the definitions to aid
Once we agree on definitions, I will remind anyone who is thinking from a
different understanding of any of the terms of our common definitions.
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