Poetry & Pragmatics: Mozilla All Hands 2009

This week we had about 250 employees & contractors from across Mozilla-land out to Mountain View for an all hands meeting. It was a great week, full of interesting conversations with people who are really dedicated to changing the world and making the web a better place. Super generative; sometimes contentious; always earnest & dedicated & thoughtful.

I gave a talk & had a conversation to start the week off — I wanted to talk about some of the context that we find ourselves in now and how we can think about becoming a longer term organization, now that Mozilla’s first 11 years are behind us. I focused on the tension between what I’ve come to call Poetry & Pragmatics. The pragmatics of an organization are how you do things; the poetry of an organization is why you do them.

There’s a big difference; they’re both important, and sometimes they amplify each other, sometimes they conflict. Getting the balance right, from day to day, from year to year — that’s the thing that great organizations do over time, and it’s what we need to always think about how to do better.

I also talked a bit about how we’re going to need to change going forward, adjust to new circumstances, avoid holding onto outdated ways of thinking, try new things.

In that spirit, I’ll attach my slides from that talk here — it’s a bit of an experiment for me to post what’s essentially an internal talk — lots of context missing, lots to misconstrue — but I really believe in the content and so figured I’d try sharing. 🙂 See what you think.


  1. Dear John, this inspired me directly to post a tread in the news://news.mozilla.org:119/mozilla.marketing

    newsgroup of Mozilla to create a “Mozilla Magazine” which could be a great forum to combine the poetry and Pragmatics in this growing immense landscape that Mozilla is becoming.

    Back in the day before Firefox 1 (and a bit after) I was deeply involved, and read as much as was out there. Now there is to much, and its to complex.

    A (webbased) publication could just be the bridge between the emerging islands…