Leadership plays a key role in advancing the goals we share within Hive NYC and Mozilla’s wider network. Hive NYC supports the growth of leaders through a structured framework that is informing Mozilla’s ongoing leadership development strategy. Mozilla is cultivating a network of leaders to increase Web Literacy teaching and advocacy around the world. This means empowering individuals with the skills, opportunities and ambition to drive innovation and maximize on the impact of our learning programs. As Mark Surman explains:
Combined, these things create both a talent pool and motivational economics that will build momentum. And, ultimately, they make it more likely that we will succeed with our overall agenda of universal web literacy.
Mozilla defines Web Literacy leadership as helping others to read, write and participate on the Web. In the strategic plan for 2016, Mozilla will leverage Mozilla Festival (MozFest) and community input to develop this definition and explore what it looks like within local learning networks. In Hive NYC you will find a host of leadership exemplars, individuals who demonstrate the practices that build our collective impact. Their experiences and qualities represent the characteristics Mozilla identifies as central to this emerging leadership model. As one Hive NYC member stresses:
Leadership development should be guided by the needs of those the mission is intended to serve.
Hive NYC is proud to recognize the leadership values our community members exemplify and is taking this opportunity to share their perspectives. The reflections in this post form part of an evolving narrative exploring how local Web Literacy leadership relates to Mozilla’s goal of advancing open practice in different contexts and settings. By highlighting this subset of experiences, and pointing to the supports that facilitated them, we hope to identify the engagement patterns that can steward individuals towards leadership and contribute to a growing collection of resources that will be useful throughout Mozilla’s communities.
Contribution and Participation
Hive NYC participation pathways are varied. We facilitate a range of activities that are designed to create the conditions for members to form trusted relationships, generate ideas and take ownership of projects that address real challenges. Members explore a variety of engagement routes as they grow and develop towards leadership.
Without these relationships I would not have access to the knowledge, opportunities, and also support that I now do with the Hive.
With this growth, participation level changes and is very unique to a member’s interests, organization and expertise. The Project Learning Lab is an example of how Hive NYC leaders are connected to the tools, practices, and, perhaps most importantly, the supportive relationships that help them to achieve greater impact on youth through their programs:
I am now working with other organizations on a number of projects that would not have come about without the Hive – not only the potential for funding, but the space that the Hive creates to facilitate idea generation and new collaborations.
Hive NYC leaders typically form multiple productive relationships by collaborating on concrete projects, with members learning from one another along the way. This fuels development of the skills that create the type of impact we see across the community. These skills include leveraging resources, building on existing knowledge, working in the open, and inviting feedback.
“I am proud of the connections, projects, friends, and colleagues I’ve made in the NYC Hive network. I quickly identified the potential of the network and did everything I could be a part of this awesome space. I love the ideas, the people, and the collective vision of what the Hive network is and what it will continue to become.”
Opportunities and Roles
As an open source community, Hive NYC enables multiple participation routes involving collaboration, which dynamically generates opportunities to experience leadership. A small sample of the opportunities that direct members to leadership are described here:
More than a leader I consider myself a collaborator or facilitator – without the potential for partnership, cross-pollination, and different actors or organizations jumping in to support each other according to their skill-set or expertise very little of what I have done with the Hive NYC Community would be possible. I wouldn’t have been able to take these opportunities for collaboration if spaces for relationships to grow and ideas to germinate hadn’t been created by the Hive. The Hive’s adherence to values of participation and inclusion make this possible, and allow people with interest, motivation, and a desire to make things happen to develop and grow with those around them.
Often, members are recognized as exhibiting leadership qualities by others, while not personally identifying as leaders.
Sometimes I am a leader in a certain area and they [a collaborator] are a leader in another area. […] I consider myself a leader in the Hive community just as much as I consider myself lucky to be led by the community as well.
Hive NYC leaders consider themselves both educators and learners—acting in a variety of roles at different times, routinely both leading and being led.
I approach my work from a space of joy and integrity and try my best to support my colleagues and peers in advancing new and interesting ideas. I have had the opportunity to lead a couple projects and I’m currently co-leading [one] around digital badges. I’m deeply committed to fusion of the creative arts, technology, and culturally responsive practice and pedagogy.
Experiences of Leadership
Hive NYC collaborations open up possibilities beyond what each individual could achieve alone.
There are so many opportunities to exhibit leadership in the network including opportunities to write about or work, lead workshops and conversations, pitch programs, and present at national/international conferences. Talented people demonstrate leadership every day in their respective organizations and in the collective network. I am continuously inspired by the youth, ideas, projects, and people that make up the Hive community.
By engaging learners on their interests and empowering participants to take ownership of project direction and outcomes, Hive NYC leaders in turn facilitate the development of leadership among youth.
Hive shares responsibility with all its collaborators and empowers community members to communicate and collaborate for change. Through the various community led presentation, events, and community calls I see leadership demonstrated by everyone involved in HIVE NYC. It is unlike any community I have ever been a part of. The nonjudgmental, welcoming, and persevering tone of HIVE NYC has inspired me to be a better educator and overall human being.
Leadership practices that are most valued within the community include connecting others to opportunity and celebrating the diversity of both perspectives and contributions that our work benefits from.
Courage is the first way that comes to mind – the courage to propose an idea to a community and seek support in making it happen. […] Another key leadership quality that I have seen demonstrated at the Hive is an awareness of the group – facilitating and supporting a community to collaborate creatively is no easy task and the Hive (and it’s members) do a great job of this.
Leadership and Web Literacy
Hive NYC leaders reflect and inform Mozilla’s Web Literacy model of leadership, not only by creating learning experiences that prioritize agency in the digital world, but also by working open, sharing outcomes—and, fundamentally, understanding the nature and power of networks, both online and off.
I think that when [Hive NYC] community members openly share about their work to help inform other institutions about the successes and failures of their programming, it really contributes to helping others understand how to best help their youth read, write and participate on the web.
Hive NYC leaders operate at a networked level locally by designing projects to leverage the Web, and more generally by preparing young people to curate their own pathways through education, work and civic life.
In practice, the network includes a wide range of passionate technologists asking hard questions about complex issues. At its core, the web is the infrastructure that provides the architecture that supports the creation and dissemination of ideas, products, etc, but we do much more than helping others read, write, and participate in the web.
How Can Hive NYC Impact the Wider Network?
Many Hive NYC leaders have a history of involvement with Mozilla’s other initiatives, such as MozFest, Maker Party and Mozilla Clubs. The work we do provides an insight into how a set of shared local goals can be integrated within a broader mission.
While the web is the primary means of communication, our Hive network is a diverse community of organizations examining the complex challenges and opportunities within a wide spectrum of digital programming. This includes how young people consume technology, how they produce original content with technology, and how they are developing their own tools/apps/products with technology.
Working within a cross-disciplinary community of practice dedicated to empowering youth as makers on and off the Web, many Hive NYC leaders are keen to explore potential avenues for learning from and with the wider network of educators, technologists and digital citizens.
We push new ideas, challenge norms, hack/break and rebuild things, and push young people to invent a new reality. […] It would be great build a more intentional bridge with Mozilla developers to explore how to advance youth projects into to real world tools, platforms, products, etc. Additionally, our youth are fully able to articulate what they need and want.
By sharing practices beyond their city-wide network, Hive NYC leaders could develop relationships that extend into Mozilla’s larger community. Lead members identify opportunities such as cross-city collaboration to develop spread and scale of programs, maximizing on the contributions of incubator and pilot organizations.
Many Hive organizations are excellent incubators and innovators, the question of how to move from this level to wider spread and scale is a crucial one. [Opportunities] for Hive members to interact with and collaborate with other Hive members internationally around Mozilla’s mission will always be valuable, however these opportunities might be facilitated.
Leadership Development—What’s Next?
While leadership development is making a clear contribution to impact within Hive NYC and elsewhere, Mozilla is just beginning the task of building a systematic framework for growing leaders across its community—in a way that is integrated while still accommodating the diversity in each area. Hive NYC develops Web Literacy leadership by supporting educators in learning new skills, sharing experiences and connecting individuals to opportunity via both the network and their local environments. Mozilla’s plan for 2016 is to focus on leveraging leadership models in local communities like Hive NYC—the stories of our invaluable leaders will inspire and inform this work. Mozilla is also collecting community member stories on an ongoing basis—share yours now!