Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Manage Internal Knowledge
Connection to other recommendations
This recommendation proposes the idea of placing importance upon curating the internal knowledge of our Movement. It is supported by the recommendations ‘Coordinate Across Stakeholders’ and ‘Invest in Skills Development’.
All the internal knowledge produced in the Movement belongs to it, and we must ensure its findability and usability by any participant. We must establish a knowledge base for internal knowledge, dedicated staff for content curation (including discoverability and quality assurance) and user support, supplemented with a service/database of peers for matchmaking.
Despite our greatest success in creating an open encyclopedia, a knowledge base about everything, we have not been very successful at managing our own operational knowledge. To find information about the Movement, or find support or partnerships, members of our communities, the public, and all our other stakeholders have to navigate multiple disconnected spaces that suffer from poor usability and organization. As a result, if the information is located, it may be inaccurate, outdated, incomplete, or inconsistent without any way of knowing that to be the case.
Even when the information is sound, it is often not easy to use. Hindrances such as a lack of translatability or unspoken assumptions concerning background knowledge or processes that may not be linked hinder the exchange of ideas from within the Movement itself. That results in community members reinventing the wheel and missing the chance to build on each other’s experience, hindering the growth of the Movement and disadvantaging some communities. It also becomes an obstacle to distributing power, as access to the information that helps in doing one’s work better (be that know-how, context for grants, tools, contacts, etc.) establishes another informal power based on recognition.
Managing and documenting knowledge are skills that take time, and doing them is less engaging than doing the work that frequently attracts volunteers to these efforts. As a result, members of the Movement (especially volunteers) often document their activities and knowledge insufficiently or not at all. This leads to a lack of institutional memory, as when they leave the Movement, their undocumented experiences, knowledge, and contacts are lost with them.
Not having a proactive approach towards internal knowledge management results in missing opportunities that affect the entire Movement and puts its growth and risk. It affects both small communities that strive to grow as well as large ones that could be more resilient and flexible. Having good internal knowledge management is essential to onboard new contributors and help them develop their skills, allow new leaders to emerge, and intentionally manage our internal resources that are focused on improving our public projects themselves.
To enhance the management of internal knowledge and to make it easy to capture, discover, adapt and consume by all stakeholders, we recommend an approach based on several actions and requirements. We must follow a people-centered approach to design one knowledge-base space that meets the needs of all contributors and stakeholders. This must ensure that our knowledge is findable, easy to use by everyone who needs it for their own activities, while also being easy to add new information and processes as they are developed.
Even though the creation of a common space for internal knowledge is necessary to collect different types of educational resources (from text-based to audiovisual), in a decentralized ecosystem, a single strategy may not be enough. It is necessary to encourage the creation of metadata for every piece of internal knowledge to support its findability through a search tool and various types of syndication. Stored metadata should also support the creation of reports to measure the Movement’s progress accurately, thus creating better awareness and setting informed priorities.
To facilitate the use of internal knowledge resources, they must be accessible through project platforms and allow users to be aware of what exists for them to use and where they can find it. Additionally, there must be active resourcing to ensure contributors are aware of certain internal knowledge needed for specific cases such as the participation in governance (local or global decision-making).
- Establish a user-friendly, inclusive, functional, participatory, multi-lingual, and searchable knowledge-base system with access to all Movement learning assets.
- Make multiple forms of knowledge and how to communicate them accessible and representative of our diverse communities.
- Contextualize and communicate internal learning through training by local experts, or cohort-based learning; and supported by integrating with the learning environment.
- Provide dedicated staff to assist with content curation, discoverability and quality assurance, user support, and to facilitate peer-to-peer matchmaking.
- Facilitate a culture of documentation to be treated as an integral part of Wikimedia’s work and as an outcome in itself by resourcing its creation in key areas, such as capacity building, advocacy, partnerships, and technology.