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Job Morph: Herding Cats

How Mozilla motivates workers who aren't actually on the payroll.

Job Morph: Herding Cats

Job: Marketing manager
Morpher: Asa Dotzler, 32, Mountain View, CA

Managing a group of employees to get a project done—that's straightforward enough. But what if your project team is a bunch of part-time volunteers around the world who may not be consistently engaged? That's the problem the open-source phenomenon presents.

Dotzler, a historic-architecture restorer by trade, discovered open-source computing back in the dial-up days. Now, as Mozilla's director of community development, he's supporting a global network of volunteers.

Mozilla's staff engineers are dedicated to Firefox's English version; it's up to all-volunteer teams to translate the browser into more than 35 languages. Dotzler cofounded SpreadFirefox, an open-source project that provides those volunteers with marketing tools to keep Mozilla's brand consistent. "Reaching people in Tokyo is probably going to require a different message than reaching people in Topeka," he says.

Dotzler travels constantly to stay in touch with volunteer groups on the ground. And he's considering creating a Web-based support network coordinated through Skype or instant messaging for real-time communication among volunteers. "We won't be the traditional multinational," he says. "We're going to be an international organization where our presence on the ground will be overwhelmingly driven by users in that region."

A version of this article appeared in the March 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.