The new teams of former working group members started the work to synthesize the 89 recommendations into one set in early November 2019. Alongside bringing together the existing recommendations, the goal was to also define principles that underpin and guide the content of these recommendations. The harmonization sprint made it clear that mutual trust, full transparency (even when things are unclear), and communication with the working group members are imperative. In line with this, the writing group and the core team worked together to co-design the process to synthesize the recommendations.
Given the complexity of the task, a five-day in-person meeting that brought together members of the core team, writing group, and one strategy liaison / connector was held at the Wikimedia Deutschland office in Berlin. In the lead up to the meeting, the writers worked extensively with community strategy liaisons and connectors to deepen their understanding of community feedback, research done by the working groups, and input from phase one of Movement Strategy. To support the sensemaking of community feedback, the strategy liaisons analyzed the input shared and sorted it according to relevance and how it connects to the ideas within the recommendations. This analysis was then shared with the writers. One format they used were blog posts listing the top 5 themes from various language communities and for different thematic areas.
Clustering, synthesizing, and refining
At the meeting in Berlin, the writers successfully consolidated the 89 recommendations into 13 clusters. The purpose of this was to group recommendations together based on overlapping ideas and thus turn the nine separate sets of recommendations into one coherent set. This approach helped ensure that the main ideas within the 89 recommendations were not lost and that the recommendations became clearer and more implementable.
The areas for change represented in these clusters included improving coordination in our Movement, skills and leadership development, distribution of power and decision-making, and enhancing user experience and infrastructure. These clusters became the new version of the recommendations and many addressed issues identified in phase one as well as common needs surfaced during community conversations between March and September 2019.
The writers also formulated 13 principles and a narrative that outlined how the recommendations will enable change and help the Movement advance in the strategic direction. As part of the meeting, the writers also met with Katherine Maher and Ryan Merkley, who were also in Berlin, to get their input and clarify a couple of thoughts and questions together to further refine the recommendations.
Once refined by the writers, the document was then shared with the reviewers for a final round of input. It was also shared with the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, who expressed their support for the overall direction of the strategy and provided some feedback and guidance about areas to adjust or make clearer.
Three versions of the document were created: an extended version (56 pages, published in English); a core version (24 pages, published in Arabic, English, French, German, Hindi, Portuguese and Spanish) and a summary (4 pages, published in Catalan, Dutch, English, Farsi, Hebrew, Polish, and Russian).
What we learned
- Co-designing together with working group members helped ensure everyone has a say and that the process is tailored to the strengths of those doing the work.
- The synthesis functioned best once the writers were supported to work in their manner of choice, co-designing and taking full ownership of the process.
- Overcoming personal and emotional challenges among all participants and stakeholders in the process is just as important as completing the material task of synthesis.
- In-person meetings should not be used to rush an enormous task; the writers did need the full five days to complete their synthesis work.