The Danger of Having No WHY

The Danger of Having No WHY

I am exceptionally proud of the Drupal community. Together we foster the development of excellent software, and raise the capacity of our individual contributors. During the Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 upgrade, I have seen increasingly more tension as long standing community members no longer feel that Drupal is their product. We are in a period of transition. By looking to the lessons provided by change management, we can see that we are already doing a lot right. The piece that appears to be missing is a clearly defined, and shared vision.

By design, our community does not have a "mission statement" or single focus. Dries does outline road maps for each release, but it is the community which drives the direction. I like how the community is able to drive the direction of the software, but I also think it makes it difficult for people to decide if they want to (1) start participating and (2) continue participating. There is an unspoken assumption that growth is good; that more contributors are needed; and that the code base must support increasingly more complex systems. Is it time we wrote down these assumptions? Is it time to revisit our Principles?

This session is a two-part session:

1. To guide people through the creation of their own personal mission statement, allowing them to more easily evaluate if their time on Drupal is in conflict with their own values.
2. To kick-off a conversation about having a mission statement for Drupal: the benefits of having a single vision; and the possible culture clash against our existing model.

This presentation was the keynote presentation at DrupalSouth in 2014. It was very well received and sparked some excellent discussion at the conference (and afterwards too!). The slides are here:


Emma Jane Hogbin Westby

June 03, 2014


  1. 3.

    Bold Claim I think the Backdrop fork was good for

    our community. Backdrop offers a clear mission statement. And it is forcing us to clarify our own product’s mission.
  2. 4.

    Agenda 1. How (and why) to be selfish in a

    FOSS project. 2. The danger of not having a clear mission statement. 3. Discussion.
  3. 28.

    @emmajanehw 2003ish Ripped the content storage tables out of Drupal

    for my own CMS. 2005 Came back to Drupal and started building sites for clients with walkah's help. 2007 2009 My first (and only) core patch. Moshe tells me my mom’s bookstore site shouldn’t be built with Drupal; that I should use WordPress instead. “For my mother, who asked for the manual to her web site.” 2011 Taught my first Drupal 8 workshop. 2013 2014 Still haven’t upgraded mum’s site from Drupal 5.
  4. 31.
  5. 32.
  6. 35.

    “Our mission was to make Drupal fast, small, clean and

    on the bleeding-edge of technology.”
  7. 36.

    “At the end of the day, we can't make everybody

    happy and it is very important that you realize that.”
  8. 42.

    (you said) “Drupal 8 Will Have Something for Everyone to

  9. 46.

    Change management is the application of a structured process and

    set of tools for leading the people side of change to achieve a desired outcome. definition/
  10. 52.
  11. 53.

    “The Drupal mission is to develop a leading edge open-source

    content management system that implements the latest thinking and best practices in community publishing, knowledge management, and software design.”
  12. 59.

    What did you think? E V A L U A

    T E T H I S S E S S I O N : A U S T I N 2 0 1 4 . D R U P A L . O R G / S C H E D U L E