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Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Reports/Movement Strategy Playbook/Set clear working agreements

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Set clear working agreements
8 Working Group members pose for a photo on a set of stairs
Movement Strategy Process Working Group members participating on the last day of the Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2018

Groups need clear ways of working together, and some degree of alignment and consensus around how they’re going to communicate, plan, and get things done. These aren’t always clear at the start, but you can propose, document and update them together as you go.

  • “Have a dedicated person in the group that focuses on the HOW: team governance, meetings, roles & responsibilities, agreements.”
  • “It was sometimes difficult to get the team to focus on the ‘ways of working.’ Conversations often immediately drifted off into content or community work, and did not leave enough space to actually figure out the norms for the team."

Make the implicit explicit[edit]

Good working agreements make implicit rules and assumptions explicit, so that everyone is clear. This means fewer misunderstandings and reduces hidden biases or barriers.

  • The "Hacktivist" mentality is: ‘go figure things out on your own.’ (Versus: if you need help, you ask.) It's hard to know how to reach out, who to ask for help.
  • “So many practices stayed implicit, but were not explicitly shared. Making the implicit explicit is essential -- the culture, principles and tools for the team. How you operate. But [it's] hard when you're moving so fast.”
  • “We had a Governance document that outlined roles, meetings, etc. But it became somewhat out of date over time, and wasn’t something we more formally onboarded people into.”
Whole working group in a group photo, everyone smiling and waving
Group photo of the RRRR Working Group meeting 2019 Berlin, February 2019

Include space for cultural differences[edit]

Working agreements can also help sort through different cultural approaches, and adopt a more diverse and inclusive way of getting things done.

  • “Strike a balance between work styles. Where do we need to be pushy, versus where do we need to take a step back and think: "what else? What are we missing here?"
  • “You need to understand the different cultures' approaches to delivery, accountability and push/pull of information.”
  • “Incorporate more equity in everyday work and design. Versus thinking of it as an outcome of certain things we do together.”

Tools and examples for setting working agreements[edit]

Do you have tools, methods or ideas that you, your community or organization use for this? Add them to this section for others to see.