In January 2020, the core team started planning how to integrate the feedback received about the third draft of the recommendations and finalize the content. Active members of the drafting phase of recommendations, members involved in phase 1 of the strategy process, and an organizer of a community strategy salon formed the group that would finalize the recommendations.
The general approach taken was to review and discuss feedback from communities, affiliates, and the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees to identify ways to improve the recommendations. The integration team used the feedback to revise and refine the original ideas behind each recommendation and make sure the language is as clear as possible. By going through each recommendation, the team was able to identify overlaps in the content and discuss as a group whether to combine certain ideas or recommendations. In a few cases, some important ideas (such as commitment to environmental sustainability) were added to the final recommendations. To facilitate this work, an in-person meeting was held in New York City in early March 2020. With the backdrop of an unfolding global SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the small integration group made optimal use of the time together, and virtually thereafter, to refine and finalize the recommendations for the Movement.
By mid-March, the team had produced a refined 40-page document featuring 10 recommendations and 10 underlying principles outlining a guide for change. The document was then copyedited for language and consistency.
This document was submitted to the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees for their final review. The Board requested clarity and revisions on four topics across three recommendations: API (recommendations 1 and 2), use of trademarks (recommendation 4), use of Movement funds (recommendation 4), and Global Council’s charter (recommendation 4). Some writers considered this a logical step and a follow up to their earlier review in February. However, for some writers, the level of concern and request for revision was better suited for implementation discussions in the next phase of the work, and not for a strategic document. This highlighted fundamental power imbalances that exist in our Movement, which the strategic direction and the recommendations are specifically intended to address.
Everyone strived to find solutions and in the end, the final call as to what changes would be made, if any, was left with the writers. After multiple discussions, changes were incorporated to reflect the requests and at the same time, maintain the integrity of the process and the recommendations.
The original plan had been to publish the final version of the document at the end of March 2020 and begin conversations about implementation planning at the Wikimedia Summit 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wikimedia Summit was cancelled. The core team postponed the publication of recommendations to May 2020. This meant that there was enough time and space for in-depth discussions about the final changes and that, in light of the global health crisis and its impact on people’s lives, everyone contributing to the work could do so at their own pace.
What we learned
- Having input from various sources (communities, reviewers, affiliates, and the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees) collated and summarized in one place, was key for finalizing the recommendations and making best use of the short in-person working time.
- Producing a change log that tracked changes according to feedback helped with transparency and accountability.
- Allowing enough time to integrate feedback and not sticking to predetermined timelines was critical to producing a FINAL product.
- Clarity regarding the mandate of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees and their intervention regarding changes made to content was needed earlier.