[kde-community] Vision, mission and manifesto - what is their definition and purpose?

Thomas Pfeiffer thomas.pfeiffer at kde.org
Tue Feb 9 21:56:32 UTC 2016

Hey everyone,
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: 
1. Manifesto: 
Definition: For me, this is what documents the defining _values_ and _identity_ 
of an organization (or rather a movement, because regular organizations rarely 
have manifestos). 

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.

2. Vision
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?"

3. Mission
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 
and error.

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 
common definition.

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 
communication further

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.

Thank you,

More information about the kde-community mailing list