July 15, 2011 1 Comment
To whom it may concern,
As you may know, I have rejoined the MUFIX Community ranks as the community’s Social Media Manager earlier this year; taking charge of MUFIX’s online presence, including, but not limited to, the community’s Facebook page and Twitter account.
I asked to take on this position when it came to my knowledge that several people in my network- who were not affiliated with MUFIX or Menoufia University in any way- were aware of MUFIX’s existence, yet did not know much information about. It was- and still- my firm belief that maintaining a robust presence on the social media channels would significantly contribute in establishing MUFIX as a booming IT community in Egypt.
I was greeted with great understanding by Ahmed Nagy, the leader of MUFIX Community for the 2010-2011 season, to the extent of being given complete creative freedom over the social media strategy. However, during my four-month tenure, I discovered that MUFIX had much bigger problems than merely its social media presence. These problems, which I am pointing out here, in my opinion, present considerable challenges towards branding and establishing the MUFIX name.
1. The Lack of a Clear Goal/Direction: when MUFIX was first founded, it was billed as a community promoting the use of open source technologies, with great focus on the Java programming language and the Linux operating system, as alternatives to other non-free closed source tools. The sessions, events, and speakers reflected that theme. Currently, MUFIX has no focus, theme, direction, or clear goals. The weekly sessions held cover a variety of topics that have absolutely nothing in common. Saying that “we aim to provide the students with knowledge” is not a goal. There must be a clear and focused theme/direction for the community in order for it to be correctly categorized and as a result, branded.
2. The Lack of a Hierarchical Administrational Structure: this has been a problem with MUFIX since I first joined it in 2009. The MUFIX team consists of a community leader, a vice-leader, and about 20 organizers. Apart from two or three team meetings (max) held every year, the decision making process is almost entirely being done by the community leader. Such a management approach does not provide much room for creativity or growth. An alternative approach would be for the community to have a management team- each with a specific specialty- that gets involved in the decision making process with the leader and vice-leader. This approach was already in place during my tenure in the 2009-2010 season, where some of the experienced team members-me included- were managing different aspects of the organizational tasks, yet none of them participated in the decision making process.
3. The Lack of Inner Communication: This is a direct result of the previous problem. At any given moment of organizing an event or working on a project, the team members would not be on the same page, no one would be knowing the full details or who is doing what except for the event/project manager(s).
An example of this is when I was contacted on June the 5th by Ahmed Salem, MUFIX Leader for the 2008-2009 season, to proofread a document summarizing his tenure as the MUFIX Leader. On June the 19th, I received the same request from Basem Elsherbeny, MUFIX Leader for the 2007-2008 season. When asked about the purpose of these documents, I was told by Basem that the MUFIX Alumni group is working on a “web page” that illustrates their efforts. I explicitly asked Basem if they were working on the MUFIX official website (mufix.org) and I was confirmed by him that they were not. On June the 26th, I met Abbas Adel, MUFIX Co-Founder, at the Google Serve Not for Profits event in Cairo, where he told me that they were indeed working on the MUFIX official website.
4. Focusing on Brand Extension Instead of Brand Establishment: in six years, the MUFIX Community logo and slogan were changed over three times, making it extremely difficult to establish the MUFIX brand name. Instead, much attention has been given in attempts to affiliate MUFIX with other big “names”, such as JUG and GTUG. To well-establish a community, its logo and slogan must be consistent enough to stick in audiences’ mind, and then consider affiliating with other brands.
5. Taking Pride in Half-Baked Events: for about three years now, members of the MUFIX team has been taking pride in their ability to organize a “major” event in a few days. This approach results in predominately amateurish events that may appeal to the student of Menoufia University, but garner little or no interest from people unaffiliated with the community, and hence get no publicity and end up like they were never held.
A prime example of that is the Egy Techs Meetup event, scheduled to take place on the 23rd of this month. A quick look on the event website is a clear indication of the level of amateurism the organization of this event suffers from. I have absolutely nothing against the concept of the event, on the contrary, I think it is very interesting and I firmly believe that such an event would significantly aid in placing MUFIX Community on the map, but ONLY if it was held in September as I suggested numerous times to Ahmed Nagy, the leader of the organization team. The event is too big to be planned and organized in only one month. Pushing to do so will only result in another half-baked event that would only waste resources and eventually promote MUFIX as a community unable to organize an event that can live up to its promise.
Due to problems aforementioned, and my firm belief that my efforts would be ineffective as long as these problems remain unaddressed, I have decided to step down as MUFIX Community’s Social Media Manager. However, I would still act as a consultant like the rest of the MUFIX Alumni members when needed and when my time allows.
Last but not least, my recommendation for this period is to suspend all of MUFIX activities, including, but not limited to, the Egy Techs Meetup event. The MUFIX team for the 2011-2012 season should address these problems as soon as possible for a fresh and focused start in September.