Finding a work routine
Following Wikimania 2018, each working group set up virtual calls to begin their work, started teambuilding and working with virtual facilitators, and determined that a lot of the work would be conducted asynchronously in documents. Each working group nominated coordinators, who together with the core team coordinated the work across all the working groups.
It took awhile for the working groups to get into a work routine. The core team was itself getting set up as the working groups were being established. This made it difficult for the core team to provide proper support to the working groups and clearly communicate what was expected of them, as the core team was still trying to figure all of this out alongside how to best guide them.
Parallel to this, working groups also looked at how to further diversify their group’s membership. The initial round of applications did not yield a level of diversity that was representative of the movement. Throughout August and September 2018, the groups used a diversification template to identify profiles or individuals who could be approached to join and enrich the working groups. Onboarding for new members continued through October and November 2018, and the groups began working with virtual facilitators to ensure their time together was productive and efficient.
From October 2018 to March 2019, working groups identified guiding questions and key areas for their work that would enable them to develop recommendations in their thematic area. This was called ‘scoping’. Working groups began analyzing their area based on existing knowledge and available materials in the Movement as well as their own experiences and understanding.
Given the challenges that working virtually across time zones posed, some working groups expressed their wish to meet in person to work together. A three-day in-person meeting for the Resource Allocation, Revenue Streams, and Roles & Responsibilities working groups was organized in February 2019 at the Wikimedia Deutschland office in Berlin. The Advocacy working group met in person for two days in March 2019 in Brussels. By mid-March, all groups had produced a draft set of guiding questions for their work.
Scoping documents published
In March 2019, each working group published their initial scoping documents, which outlined their guiding questions and a rationale behind how their thematic area relates to the Movement’s goals for its future. They also outlined the areas each group would focus on to develop recommendations for the necessary structural and cultural changes that would help us advance in our strategic direction. Some of these documents captured and highlighted essential questions and discussions that had been part of Movement discussions for some time.
Exploring the guiding questions through research and community input was the next step. The Wikimedia Summit, which took place in Berlin in March 2019, was one of the first chances to do this and allowed working groups to engage directly with representatives from Wikimedia affiliates and organizations. The guiding questions were a starting point for conversations about what kind of changes might be needed, how we can share resources effectively and establish meaningful partnerships, and how to turn stuck energy into positive momentum. Via interactive sessions, open forums, and conversation rounds, Wikimedia affiliates and working groups had intense and fruitful discussions. The report can be found here.
The publication of the scoping documents also kickstarted the first round of Movement Strategy community conversations, which took place both on- and offline from March to July. Online communities, volunteers, affiliates, staff members, and people from across the Movement were asked to share their thoughts on the working group documents as well as any perspectives that could support the development of the recommendations. To enable broad participation, seven community strategy liaisons supported the core team to facilitate discussions in Arabic, French, German, Hindi, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Spanish. The scoping documents were also translated into a number of languages to reduce barriers to participation.
What we learned
- It takes time for a diverse group of people with different backgrounds and experiences to get into a workflow and start working together productively. It would have been better to set the core team up first and dedicate more time initially to planning for and preparing the working groups.
- Virtual facilitation helped establish workflows in the group, and the face-to-face format of in-person working group meetings allowed room for ideas to flow and have extended, productive work sessions.
- Planning the in-person meetings in different locations around the world poses challenges. Short timeframes make it difficult and, in some instances, not possible for people to obtain visas in time.