it's said that achieving one's goals is as simple as identifying them and then becoming them. sort of like stating the obvious, and when one is at the bottom of the hill looking up at those goals it can seem a bit glib. but it's true.
i've seen it happen many times in kde.
we wanted to emphasize usability and get those things sorted out. so we made up the usability project and hammered away at it for a year or two and eventually attracted real usability people who are now the engine behind this effort. but before we could attract these people we had to become a project with usability as a value.
we wanted to publicize kde's efforts better. so we worked on improving our public communications with better press releases, communications "strategies" (aka "let's talk about Y for a bit.." nothing sophisticated, really). and now we have several communications professionals circling the project and helping with these things.
we wanted to put more structure into the operational side of kde (primarily the e.V.). so we set out to do that and started drafting procedures and mechanisms and making things that ought to be more formal ... well ... formal. we did this always with an eye of not infringing upon the community culture of the technology project itself, of course. and i think we largely have succeeded there. and now we have people from the industry who have proven track records as relationship program creators/managers and entrepreneurs starting to help out.
each time it started with us trying to become what we wanted. despite not having the best people possible for it. but this attracted people of like mind who were the best people possible for it.
on a personal level, this process has resulted in me being obsoleted many times as better people come along. i'm still involved with usability, but i am certainly not the core of it. i'm still involved with press releases and what not, but i am certainly not the core of it. i'll likely still be involved with some of the formalization of process within kde, but i hope to not be the core of it (and it certainly looks like i won't). this is success.
what i really want to do is write code and innovate in technology. sometimes i find it's necessary to support that dream by doing something tangential but necessary. i watch others in the project do this as well. this is one of reason (though not the only) kde grows as it does: we have people aware of the system and not just their role in it; we have people committed to the system and not just their own part in it; we have people who put in efforts over the course of months and years to make these things happen.
in this way we avoid just always observing our own flaws and, from time to time, fixing them. viva la kde.