Drupal 7 is out to the world. Its adventures are still untold. Yet the workful bunch that its community is, everybody is rolling up their sleeves to plan ahead for Drupal 8. As the project and its audience is growing and evolving, so are its challenges. While everyone is rightfully proud of what we achieved, our processes are often a pain.
We need to improve the general structures to be able to aim higher. Being from rather from the design / UX camp I read with great interest a blogpost that Leisa Reichelt wrote recently. She outlines a plan how to keep and grow the momentum of Design / UX that had a great push with the D7UX Project and led to a big focus on an improved UX for Drupal 7.
She advocates to have a dedicated team with different roles to get to that goal. One thing in particular is interesting: she wants the positions to be at least partially funded.
So let's get to the recent practice to fund important key positions in community work.
Experience with funded positions in the Drupal.org redesign
In order to the redesign out of the door, the Association took drastic measures: they hired temporary full-time personnel to guarantee more focus and coordination. Most notable were Sam Boyer for the Git Migration and Neil Drumm for the general management of the redesign. While I am not sure if these are still paid positions, as to all I know Sam and Neill are still very much on their tasks.
Drupal is a volunteer-driven project and that is and will be its strength. But to get certain especially hard or unthankful jobs done, there has always been additional funded work. What is new is to do this in such an official way and to put people into key coordinator positions. I cannot speak for the general experience with that. But the impression is that having paid people gives a much better counterbalance to all the volunteer work. The paid staff is less to not distracted by their dayjob, because their task _is_ their dayjob. They do not need to make their living besides their position. So they keep focused in a much more reliable way.