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

Sebastian Kügler sebas at kde.org
Tue Feb 9 23:36:21 UTC 2016

On Tuesday, February 09, 2016 22:56:32 Thomas Pfeiffer wrote:
> 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 them.
> 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.

This triggered a thought...

One of our core values is common ownership (we have encoded this in our 
culture very deeply). We haven't explicitely defined who can become one of the 
owners, say a "KDE shareholder". Joining KDE as a project gives you some kind 
of voice (next to the benefits and duties described in the manifesto) and with 
it the right to define and shape its future. We, in principle, we extend the 
common ownership of the with all its assets and history to those who identify 
themselves with our manifesto, with our values and our way of working.

This makes complete sense, at least in *my* view of the world, the common 
ownership is a basic principle of an open project. I think it's in our nature 
to be open to participation.

At the same time, Free software, or rather "open source" is based on economics 
and benefits of working together at a large scale. It's also engraved in what 
we do.

The result, mutual benefit and shared goals, provide a great base for working 

> 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.

When reading the "alternative", technologically focused draft proposal, I 
think it makes a fine mission statement, it explains what our strategy is to 
reach our goals, so how we work to achieve them. 
In that light, I see both proposals as complementary.

I can find myself in your proposed definitions. Also thanks for bringing a bit 
of structure into the discussion (which I think is otherwise fruitful).
Sebastian Kügler    |    http://vizZzion.org    |     http://kde.org

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