Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Sprint/Resource Allocation/F

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Recommendation F (principles): Ensure flexible approach to resource allocation in a complex, fast moving and changeable space[edit]

Q 1 What is your Recommendation?[edit]

Through the recommendation process, we are proposing to create numerous structures and principles. However, Resource allocation for deliverables needs to be flexible. The context of the work we’re doing in the movement is highly complex. We want to engage in new spaces that we are not familiar with (e.g. emerging Wikimedia communities), and spaces where a lot of unpredictable change happens.

Our approach to allocating resources must be flexible and adaptable. This includes intentional testing, evaluation, iteration, and a strong focus on sharing lessons learned with the movement.

As we develop programme ideas, we must also invest in research on programme impact and improvement. Complexity theory offers a framework for how to design projects in a changeable, complex space, and this should guide how we fund these projects.

This calls for a change of mindset of people deciding on resource allocation, focusing on taking fast risks, supporting quick, innovative, iterative new projects, rather than ‘tried and tested’ approaches.

All depends on the context though. Innovation, ‘new approaches’, is not always good. Tried and tried methods may need to stay and not be dismissed in the craze for innovation. We need to listen deeply to people in the given context to make decisions what strategies and tactics are needed and not focus obsessively on innovation. Similarly, we need to be mindful of the potential for scaling-up for pilots.

This recommendation will become very important as an approach at the implementation level. It’s about starting now, iteration, risks and experimentation.

Q 2-1 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?[edit]

  • We are in a dynamic & complex movement and what may work today may be obsolete in the near future.
  • We are in a position to take reasonable risks which may lead to some failed experiments, valuable knowledge or innovative solutions to our current problems. We can afford this.
  • We are willing and able to invest in research to inform innovations in structures and processes in a responsible, thoughtful way.
  • It is possible to design a whole movement that remains extremely flexible.

From Community conversations:

  • Hindi community: “There should be experimentation done in new fields and projects in different parts of the world to ensure that the content and editors remain consistent instead of investment in the repetition of same projects.”

Q 2-2 What is your thinking and logic behind this recommendation?[edit]

We believe that our movement works in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous setting (climate change, shrinking civil society spaces, rise of youth activism, cross-regional organising, even positive/negative technological advancements that we can’t predict at this point) that require dynamic approaches and the willingness to explore alternative solutions.

This approach reduces opportunity costs and encourage proactiveness to harness innovation. It feeds diversity of ideas and new approaches.

  • Research from Angelika Arutyunova told us to ‘Budget for risks’. Currently we don’t take enough risks.
  • Research from ICSC told us that ‘light, transparent and flexible models and processes seem to be highly desirable in organisational environments which are usually overburdened by internal and external challenges. It is recommended to invest in digital tools (and capacities) to help with such an ambition.’

Q 3-1 What will change because of the Recommendation?[edit]

  • This approach would allow for locally relevant solutions to be tested and implemented faster.
  • This recommendation will allow a case-by-case approach in resource allocation.
  • It will encourage the urge for experimentation and innovation.
  • It requires investment in information sharing and capacity development to ensure that lessons learned are shared.

Q 3-2 Who specifically will be influenced by this recommendation?[edit]

  • The resource allocator (distribution entity).
  • The recipient of a resource (who that is will depend on the other recommendations and may differ case by case).

Q 4-1 Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?[edit]

  • Designing and running probes will include costs and resources and they might fail. So prior analysis and research are key to increase the chances of success and avoid wasteful red herrings.
  • Teams may not know be fully fluent, experienced or coherent working in adaptive ways. This is a shift in thinking both for people designing/delivering projects, and those who allocate resources.

Q 4-2 What could be done to mitigate this risk?[edit]

  • Crucially, Capacity building (e.g. training) across different parties to adapt to this new approach.
  • Attract and fund additional expertise able to advise on ways of working in complexity.
  • Run pilot projects initially to reduce risk (calculated experimentation). Be mindful about who does the design - it’s the communities on the ground, not the funder.
  • Risk assessments.
  • Record all intended and unintended consequences to learn.
  • Be accountable and responsible for failures by sharing to avoid repeated fails.

Q 5 How does this Recommendation relate to the current structural reality?[edit]

  • Additional resources for designing and researching innovative projects will be needed.
  • Current grant-based model doesn’t accommodate people being allowed to ‘test’ things.

Q 6-1 Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations? If yes, how?[edit]

It offers a bit of a counterweight to the Thematic Hubs recommendation, which has the potential to become static and not iterating fast enough. It also offers advice to Regional Hubs on how to allocate resources.

This recommendation can also act as an approach to testing the other recommendations.

Q 6-2 Does this Recommendation connect or relate to your Scoping Questions? If yes, how?[edit]

It offers one possible way of addressing the scoping Q 6, How might we allocate resources to secure innovation towards our 2030 goal? A flexible and adaptable approach reflected in structures and processes will yield more innovation.

Q 7 How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?[edit]

  • Roles and Responsibilities: as it relates to building structures.
  • Revenue streams: innovative projects can pick up and funding novel ideas (i.e. some form of accelerator, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Startup_accelerator). Depending on what stake we take of the products developed this is also a revenue stream.
  • Capacity building: being innovative requires structures to share lessons learned and best practices.
  • Product and technology: for risk assessments on new technologies and whether it makes sense to invest in them or not.