Organizational effectiveness/Learning center/Learning and sharing
This is a page about a strategy included in the organizational effectiveness learning center.
Use this page as part of the organizational effectiveness tool.
Learning and Sharing
Effective Wikimedia organizations learn from their work to improve over time, and also share their learning with others and learn from other Wikimedia organizations, to help Wikimedia organizations overall become more effective. Effective learning may include documenting what your organization has learned, collecting information that will help your organization learn, applying what your organization has learned to improve your organization's activities, and proactively sharing that information with others. Wikimedia organizations at different stages will approach this differently, as larger organizations doing many activities may need a more systematic approach.
Recommendations for learning
If your organization wants to get better at learning and sharing, here are some concrete recommendations that may help your organization build capacity in this area. Some of these recommendations may be more or less applicable depending on your organization’s strengths and gaps in this area, and your organization's context. We realize many organizations are already using strategies like these.
Improve or create organizational processes for gathering feedback
- Create a space (online or offline) where people (volunteers, members, online contributors, staff) can informally post ideas for improvement. These could be organizational improvements, process improvements, or activity improvements. Think about whether it makes sense for this to be public or private. Once a month, go through this list with stakeholders and implement any feasible solutions.
- Lower the stakes. Consider launching or seeding new projects as pilots before they are fully formed, and then seeing what generates excitement and what takes root with your volunteers. *This may be more effective than taking a long time to craft a perfect plan, for which the stakes for failure or success would be much higher.
- When soliciting feedback, encourage people to contribute in a way that is appropriate to your context. Sometimes, feedback can be dominated by those who have the loudest voice, but may be in the minority. Not all people are proactive about sharing critical feedback. In some contexts, people are more willing to share critical feedback than positive feedback. Try to get a wide range of stakeholders to provide feedback to increase your likelihood of collecting meaningful information.
Improve or create organizational processes for sharing and communicating
- Keep volunteers and other stakeholders updated on what’s happening around the open knowledge movement globally and locally. This can be through an email, monthly announcements, on relevant Wikis where stakeholders are engaged, or in another form.
- Proactively tell your story to your stakeholders and the wider public through engaging blog posts. Document your events and activities through videos, sounds, and images (while following privacy guidelines in your context) and find ways to share them.
- Save your organization’s resources by combining different systems for sharing learning and reporting, to minimize duplicating your efforts.
- If your organization is required to report about your activities, use this as an opportunity to showcase what you are learning, and make reports relevant and engaging to your many different audiences (local stakeholders, funders, other Wikimedia organizations).
Learning and collaborating among Wikimedia Organizations
- Take advantage of existing resources rather than starting from scratch. Use Learning Patterns to document and share learning movement wide.
- Learn how others learn: proactively request information from other Wikimedia organizations doing similar work, and consider reaching out to groups like AffCom or the Wikimedia Foundation that work with many movement groups.
- After movement-wide or regional events, document what your organization has learned from other Wikimedia organizations and take steps to follow up with them after the event to continue the conversation. Include points of contact at that organization. If your organization uses a CRM or other database to manage this information, you can apply that tool here. For others, a simple spreadsheet may help.
- Before you go to Wikimania or similar events, make a list of what skills you would like to learn from other organizations. Have volunteers keep their eyes open for organizations that excel in the area you wish to grow.
- Publicize your strengths and how your organization can help other Wikimedia organizations, and proactively reach out to organizations to offer learning.
Document what you are learning and apply it!
- When planning activities and events, make sure you have ways to collect the information about the activities or events you will need to understand if they are effective. For example, if you will need to collect usernames from participants in your event or prepare a survey for participants to take before and after an event, this may be something you need to plan for in advance.
- Make sure there is a place where you can systematically collect and store this information for analysis. Take advantage of tools like WikiMetrics or tools other Wikimedia Organizations have developed.
- After you collect information, make sure there are people in your organization responsible for looking at this information and analyzing it, so conclusions can be included in relevant reports.
- When planning activities and events, ask yourself how effective these activities and events have been in the past before you repeat something similar. Based on your learning, is there a way you can improve the event to get better results?
- Take advantage of existing resources and learning from other organizations, but apply them in your context. Document learning that seems specific to your context so you can understand how to apply learning in the most relevant way. For example, if you know that your contributors prefer to work together online rather than attend offline events, this context-specific learning may affect the way you plan many of your programs, events, and activities.
- When you apply learning and make a change to an activity, event, or program, collect information and analyze it so you can understand if the results also changed.
- When you find ways to make your events, activities, or programs more effective, be sure to share the results with others through channels like Learning Patterns.
Wikimedia organizations with expertise in learning
If your organization has expertise in learning and sharing, please list yourself here and briefly describe your expertise that others wanting to build capacity in this area can contact you:
- Wikimedia UK has a range of experience as regards working with volunteers and welcomes contributions from Wikimedians further afield to our discussions
- Please add your organization’s name here, with a description of your expertise.
Here are some learning patterns related to this strategy. Create your own learning pattern here, if you have learning to share in this area.
Ongoing challenges in the area of learning and sharing
If your organization would like to share an ongoing challenge in this area, that is or is not addressed in these recommendations, please write it down here as a starting point. We can try to build resources in this area or help different Wikimedia Organizations connect to address the challenge together.
- Please add a description of your challenges in this area here.
Please add useful resources you know about, whether created by the Wikimedia movement or in another context.
- There is a library of learning patterns that address all kinds of program and organizational challenges in our Wikiverse: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:Learning_patterns
- WikiMetrics is a tool that might help organizations collect and understand data based on cohorts of users (you need to collect usernames to use it): Grants:Evaluation/Wikimetrics
Create a capacity building plan for learning and sharing
If your organization has decided to prioritize capacity building to improve your ability to learning and sharing, please create a table like the one below. The steps in this table can be part of your organization’s master capacity building plan, as suggested in the User Guide.
If you would like to share your capacity building plan publicly on Meta, you can use this button to create your capacity building plan.