Learning patterns/Clarity of expectations when setting up a partnership
What problem does this solve?
Clear agreement between the partners about the intended impact of the project creates a helpful focus to direct programme’s efforts. Having broad and flexible objectives is a strength of a programme, but not at the cost of unclear expectations from both partners.
What is the solution?
We have developed our practice and can confirm that extensive discussions during project setup stage are absolutely crucial. We found that it can be difficult to know fully the attitudes towards open knowledge within the potential partner organisation, especially that often we only talk with one team member who most supports openness. Being aware of that culture and attitudes, and having wide discussions is key to both check on the strategic alignment, and raise awareness of the strategic benefits to the host organisation of the WIR project. Often the decision maker on the project within the host organisation isn’t the best person to shape the project’s objectives and expectations, since they are not close enough to the ground and may lack time to grasp the essence of working with Wikimedia. Being aware of that and working with the right people is key.
Lack of strategic clarity in some early residencies was put right over time, for example in that hosted by the National Library of Wales:
The 2017-2021 Strategy puts Wikimedia at the heart of its digital outreach, stating: Our successful partnership with Wikimedia UK which has led to over 200 million views of images from our collections will be further developed and we shall work with partners to extend the Welsh-language Wicipedia. We will continue to work with Wikimedia UK to develop and embed digital engagement with our open content on Wikipedia and other third-party platforms to increase views of the Library’s content to 250 million by 2021 and actively contribute to the development of Welsh language content on Wikipedia.
- Wikimedia UK learning and delivery changes since 2014
- Setting up residencies is a crucial part of the process and time on this part is not wasted. We rushed to delivery in the past but now take time on this, managing expectations from both sides, setting effective objectives, including offering better inductions and knowledge exchange to solve common problems.
- We started communicating about the strategic potential of the WIR project at the set up too, not just about the practical benefits
When to use
Setting up a partnership, especially an in-depth one such as a Wikimedian in Residence.