Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Transition/Frequently asked questions
What is the transition process?
Transition is deciding what to work on in 2021. It is where we discuss what initiatives from the Movement Strategy recommendations can best address our needs and have an impact in the Wikimedia movement. It’s like we have been handed an extensive menu by our colleagues and friends, now we need to talk about what we would like to have for dinner, different choices for different people and places :) Transition is an inclusive and participatory process to take us from the publication of the recommendations (May, 2020) to when we start implementations (January, 2021). The Transition process was designed by the community-led Transition Design Group in July and August with parallel input and review. Transition begins with local, regional, and thematic discussions in September and October to decide which ideas from the recommendations should be implemented. We will then come together at global events (November) to discuss coordination and resourcing. The aim of Transition is to create a movement-wide implementation plan for 18 months starting in January 2021.
What about the principles?
The Movement Strategy Principles were thought of as the building blocks of our movement. They are fundamental beliefs that guide our work, including the transition to and subsequent implementation of the recommendations. Transition aims to set the stage for implementation from the ground up. Therefore, preparations, identification of resources and capacity, and prioritization of the recommendations will happen locally as per the principles of contextualization and subsidiarity. All work going forward, especially implementation will be collaborative and through cooperation with different communities, organizations, and partners. Transition and implementation will also be inclusive and participatory, always keeping people at the centre of our focus. With principles of transparency, accountability, and efficiency, the outcome of Transition should be an implementation plan that delivers on the promise of subsidiarity, self-management, and a Wikimedia movement that is resilient.
What are the initiatives?
The initiatives are the “changes and actions” that each Movement Strategy recommendation puts forward. The recommendations were drafted over multiple iterations, by different writers, and after rounds of community consultations from 2018 to 2020. As such, some of the recommended ideas are direct actions or outputs, and other ideas are outcomes or results. Some are aspects of work that we already do, like addressing content gaps, and others are new concepts for us and will involve discussions of their own, such as the Movement Charter. The term “initiative” was proposed by some of the writers as an umbrella term for the different ideas for change found in the recommendations. There are close to 50 initiatives - from the 10 recommendations - that we need to prioritize and slowly put into action.
Why are some initiatives already under way?
The Movement Strategy recommends changes and actions that address our aspirations for innovation, growth and diversity. At the same time, there are issues addressed that have been around for a long time. It’s no surprise that concepts like reimagining funding mechanisms to be more equitable, creation of a globally representative body, developing enterprise-level API for open knowledge, and addressing harassment feature strongly in the recommendations. Please get involved with conversations already under way: see Universal Code of Conduct and OKAPI for example. Please join the global discussions in November so we know which initiatives to work on together in 2021.
Who is the Design Group?
Online engagement with a large number of participants from across the movement for implementation is both beneficial and challenging. Therefore, the Wikimedia Foundation convened a Design Group in June, 2020 to collaboratively create the plan for online events to transition us from the publication of the recommendations to their implementation. The idea for the design group was to bring together community members reflecting different parts and regions (CEE, ESEAP, Indaba, Iberocoop, North America, South Asia, WikiArabia, WikiFranca), representatives from the EDs and chairpersons groups, and staff from the Wikimedia Foundation. The Design Group met for 6 online working sessions and shared the draft outline for Transition in August.
Why don’t we just jump into implementing the recommendations?
To make the transition from the publication of the recommendations to their implementation, we need a plan. Particularly, we need to decide what are some priorities that we should first implement in 2021, and what should come later. To create this plan, movement-wide virtual events will kick off in September, inviting groups and communities to meet locally, regionally, and thematically to discuss their priorities. The transition to implementation is an inclusive and participatory way to create the implementation plan together, making sure we don’t leave anyone interested behind. The Transition process was designed by the Transition Design Group in July and August with parallel community input and review on Meta.
It’s like, we know we are going to have a dinner party or let’s say we are putting in place a collaborative meal program for 12-18 months. Transition is us deciding what to serve, making sure allergies are addressed, and different dishes are provided for different tastes.
What does implementation really mean?
Implementation will bring together different communities, affiliates, and the Wikimedia Foundation to collaborate on putting Movement Strategy into action. During the Transition process, we will decide together which of the 50 recommended changes and actions or initiatives from the recommendations should be implemented. Some of the initiatives are strengthening what we already do, like growing communities, addressing content gaps, and advocacy work in Open Knowledge. Some of the initiatives will require further discussions, like the Movement Charter and the Global Council. Some of the initiatives address internal aspects of our movement, like evaluation, better coordination, and managing knowledge. Others are external, like user experience and partnerships. Implementing the initiatives that are prioritized will be an 18-month movement-wide pilot project starting in January, 2021. It’s anticipated that some initiatives can be local experiments, others will need global collaborations.
What will the implementation plan look like?
The aim of the Transition process is to create an implementation plan for 18 months starting in January, 2021, to collaboratively take some of the selected initiatives for ward. The implementation plan will:
- Define the initiative
- Define the objectives and key results being worked on
- Provide clear timing for each actions and clarity around the steps
- Clarify the systems and workflows needed
- Map out human and financial resources needed
Who will be affected by implementation?
Implementing the Movement Strategy recommendations is for all Wikimedia stakeholders. Community representatives and staff and board members of affiliates and the Wikimedia Foundation collaborating locally or globally to bring Strategy to life. They were all involved in the drafting process of the recommendations, in the nine thematic working groups, and as writers and reviewers. Many more were closely involved in providing feedback and in hosting various strategy related events. The same spirit of collaboration will continue and only expand. For online communities, groups can prioritize and express interest to lead or support an area of work during implementation. Individuals can play an important role in shaping discussions and participating in relevant experiments. For affiliates, prioritization and transition are closely linked with the annual planning processes. For implementation, they can be leading partners in prioritized areas and supporting each other as peers and mentors.
How will decisions be made?
The vision is that alignment will emerge in the larger global conversations after individuals and communities have discussions at local and thematic levels. Governance and decision-making for implementing the recommendations are addressed in Equity in Decision-making, initially with the creation of an Interim Global Council. One aim of the Transition process is to bring the Interim Global Council to life to oversee the initial 12-18 months of implementation in 2021. Key upcoming discussions include the definition of its responsibilities, the overall concept of how it will function, and movement representation.
For a movement as diverse and complex as ours, reaching decisions in inclusive and equitable ways is not simple. Decision-making has been talked about in the movement for a very long time and has manifested in different ways over the years. Reaching decisions via consensus has been embedded in many aspects of our work, but is not without its limitations. Particularly, some individuals and communities do not feel safe to take part in decision-making in a public forum, i.e. Meta. Others may not feel informed enough to do so, or feel held back by major discussions primarily happening in English. It is easy in such situations to leave all decisions to be made by those who speak loudest, speak English and have the time to be well-informed. Requests for comment are useful for certain things, like a discussion on a very specific technological element or to implement a change at the project or community level. Otherwise, such processes leave many people out of larger decision-making.
There is no simple solution, but there is great desire from communities, affiliates, and the Wikimedia Foundation to find a suitable approach for movement-wide decision-making. One size doesn’t fit all in our movement and that’s for sure. We need to have discussions across communities and at the level of the movement on how to approach decision-making, and be open to experimentation and learning.
Types of events
Is prioritization just for affiliates?
Prioritization and the entire Transition process are for anyone in the Wikimedia movement. Everyone is encouraged to review the Movement Strategy recommendations, discuss with peers and colleagues, and decide what initiatives would address community needs and have an impact if implemented in 2021. This prioritization could be based on:
- existing work of a group or community,
- how a group or community would like to grow, or
- important changes that are needed in the movement regardless of a group or community’s ability to participate in implementation.
What are the preparatory events?
Engaging in global discussions on implementing strategic changes in a movement as complex as ours requires preparation and awareness. There are close to 50 changes and actions or “initiatives.” Preparations will be locally-relevant and without the need for a deep knowledge of strategy, for individuals and organizations to get informed about the process, discuss the recommendations, and begin to identify priorities. Preparation events would be hosted by interested affiliates and communities, with support from the Support Team.
What happens after preparation?
Following preparation and thematic discussions, there will be global events around topics already identified by some communities as priorities (e.g. interim Global Council) and those that emerge from the discussions. More information will be provided as details are planned. The aim is that in smaller events (such as local and thematic conversations), prioritization can take place. After some analysis and consolidation of incoming information, global conversations would bring the movement together for coordination, and decision-making. Following global events, smaller follow-up events would once more take conversations back to communities, to discuss roles and responsibilities for going forward.
What are the local events about?
Local events invite communities and affiliates to meet with peers and colleagues to discuss what initiatives from the recommendations can have a great impact for them. Whatever local means for a group. Local events are meant to unpack the recommendations around topics that are relevant and interesting and that address specific community needs. By having local discussions and bringing the results of these discussions together globally, we can co-create an implementation plan to start in early 2021.
What resources are available for these events?In global discussions in our movement, there are often higher participation rates from established affiliates and online communities rather than from emerging ones. Even within emerging communities it is mostly the established and financially secure Wikimedians who participate. An easy rapid grant system for communities to organize Strategy-related discussions has been created. Time to participate in virtual events is increasingly a limited resource in the world, now more than ever when staying at home for many Wikimedians has become strained - from attending university fully online to having to watch children.
At the moment, funds to run a great virtual event - requiring translations, data support, facilitation, and documentation - can be reallocated for the Foundation’s APG and SAPG recipients. However, many groups, especially in emerging Wikimedia communities, do not have annual grants and can only access rapid ones.
For more information on how to apply for rapid grants for Movement Strategy, please visit the Rapid Grants page.
What is the role of regional and thematic discussions? 
Regional and thematic discussions are ideal platforms for different groups and communities to come together and exchange ideas for implementing the Movement Strategy recommendations. They are great for creating alignment for future planning, and for sharing ideas and discussing priorities. Actual prioritization should still be at the level of individual communities and affiliates. For some contexts, it makes sense to go with a common language, e.g. French for the global French-speaking community. In other contexts, a regional identity is more inclusive to share information and start conversations, e.g. for the East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific region.
Could local Strategy discussions be in-person?
The Transition events were designed to be online given the global pandemic. There has been growing interest from some communities to meet in person, especially in places where access to a good internet connection is a barrier and where in-person meetings of certain sizes are allowed. The Foundation has provided guidance if an affiliate or community really wants to meet in person, requiring an assessment especially for meetings with more than 10 people (see events risk assessment during COVID-19).
If there is a large preference in your community to meet in person, organizers should follow local and national public health guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic.
What will happen at the global events?
The global discussions are for coming together, celebrating the start of implementation, and sharing results from local, regional, and thematic discussions. Even if prioritization is not finalized, it’ll be good to create connections between affiliates, communities, and the Wikimedia Foundation, and to get together after a long time and plant seeds for collaboration. Implementation is designed to be collaborative connecting groups from different parts of the movement and the global discussions will be important for this. See you in November.