From time to time I hear things to the effect of, "It's hard to get anything done in KDE. Where's the project-wide direction and management?" Indeed, it's not trivial. We could try to excuse the issue and say, "Well, KDE is huge now. 600+ developers contributing to the last release, even more translators, artists and others. That's a lot of people to move about!" While this is true, I don't think it is the whole picture.
In the beginning, some 14+ years ago, "KDE" was a software project to create the "Kool Desktop Environment" (quickly becoming the "K Desktop Environment"). There were a little over a dozen contributors and they all knew each other as a result. It was an ambitious project given how much software they planned on writing, and the results of the first go-around (KDE 1.x) were impressive though certainly small compared to what KDE (which now refers to a community rather than a specific project) puts out today.
Over the years, from that one team sprouted dozens of others. Each of these teams works very similarly to how that first group did: a generally meritocractic process of consensus based development held together by personal relationships. Each of these teams has a similarly strong send of purpose and tends to get things done. We call the sum total of all of them "KDE".
What didn't happen during the creation of all those teams, which was a purely organic and non-engineered process, was the creation of working bonds between the different teams. Sometimes they exist due to the people being involved in more than one (often over a period of time rather than concurrently), but many teams are fairly self-contained. This is not a bad thing, but it makes doing things "across all of KDE" more tricky.
In addition to this, the different teams have different interests and goals. In Plasma we are interested in things like mobile devices and media centers in addition to the desktop/netbook/tablet space. I'm not so sure the KDE Finance apps care much about media centers. I doubt the KDE Games people care that there's a use case difference between netbook and desktop: their stuff almost naturally works equally well in both cases, while the Plasma stuff required engineering efforts for that to happen!
A decade ago we had one set of goals and one group of people who knew each other marching towards them. Today we have a variety of (mutually supportive) goals and many groups of people who know each other marching towards different ones. This is the challenge to getting "global" vision.
What to do? In part, I think we need to drop the idea of getting "all of KDE" to all do the same thing all of the time. It is completely alright for just some of us to focus on mobile, for instance, while others focus on making great photo manipulation software for desktops and workstations. (To pick random examples out of the air. :)
We also need to realize that there are some things that we need "all of KDE" to coordinate on, otherwise they just don't work. The git migration (which is nearing the finish line at this point) and brand repositioning efforts are two obvious, if somewhat trivial, examples of this. They are not the only ones, however. To get those things done, we need to work on the bonds between the teams. We need to re-find our own KDE identity and put it into practice through personal relationships and work across team boundaries. We need to be able to go into shared efforts and not feel the need to henpeck each other just to prove that we're contributing in some way, or feel unease at other's (unknown) intentions because we don't really know those people very well personally.
In Plasma, we are trying to reach out more and more to other teams that are relevant to and interested in our efforts. This includes teams like KWin, Oxygen and Solid (we share goals) but also teams like Skrooge (we share needs). We also strive to tell our story to the rest of KDE so "you all" know what "we all" are up to. We have more to do, but it's a reasonable start. Each of us in each of the teams involved in this "are KDE", but through these cooperative efforts we help build personal relationships, create shared values, generate goals and spread expertise around.
In the coming days and years, if we can build more inter-team bonds then getting things done "in KDE" might be a lot easier and more successful. It may never be as easy as it was when Ettrich first started hacking on his Kool concept (koncept? ;), but that's a price of success. We can, however, make it not only possible to create more global vision more easily but actually do it, too.