Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Working Groups/Roles & Responsibilities/Recommendations/Nutshell

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These draft recommendations are points of agreement within the Roles and Responsibilities Group which we believe should be reflected in any future governance structure. In order to think it through in more detail and to make it more tangible, we developed three alternative structural models which we want to develop further. We are currently going through a ‘pre mortem’ exercise to understand these models in more depth. If you are interested in giving feedback to one or more model please get in touch with us via wg2030-rolesandresponsibilities@wikimedia.org

Recommendations #1 and #2[edit]

  1. Power and responsibilities need to be redistributed on the principle of self management (subsidiarity)
  2. Decisions should be taken at the “lowest” possible level / as near as possible to the process/community/activity that will be affected by the decision

Rationale for #1-2

  • To ‘break down structures of power and privilege’ we have to start with our own structures – reduce focus on Global North, increase broader access to those who do not speak English, and decentralize decision-making and authority as far as possible.
  • Recognize the current perception of authority/power and its weaknesses – ‘community’ feels the WMF is too powerful, ‘WMF’ feels they have no mandate or authority. Decision-making is often either by consensus, bureaucratic processes, or in non-transparent processes. These result in delays, ineffective decisions (or lack of decisions), and perceptions that decisions were made without the involvement of those who will be affected by them.
  • Decisions will be more effective if they are taken close to the communities they affect.  “Community” here includes offline and online groups (e.g., user groups, projects, chapters, thematic org), existing or future. This reflects the diversity of the broad global community and allows localized communities to make decisions that best serve their needs.

Recommendations #3 and #4[edit]

  1. To establish a framework for decision-making, there will be a charter of principles, values, and governance behaviours. The charter will be developed through an equitable process with broad and diverse participation.
  2. This charter will be owned by a global governance and accountability body

Rationale for #3 and #4

  • This is only possible if there is a common understanding of the principles and values that bring us together as a movement and should drive those decisions, and also of the behaviours we expect when people exercise power
  • That common understanding needs to be created and documented - hence the “charter”. We believe this will be a complex process. To help ensure the Charter has wide acceptance and helps achieve the goal of knowledge equity, the group facilitating the development of the Charter must reflect the diversity of the global Wikimedia movement and the communities we wish to work with.
  • We envisage accountability running in many directions with individuals and small groups empowered to make many decisions
  • We anticipate that this charter will reflect and embody values that will require changes to current power structures

Recommendation #5[edit]

All of this exists to support our primary purpose: free knowledge and its distribution

Rationale for #5

  • The vision and strategic direction

Recommendation #6[edit]

Movement organizations are to be governed by diverse, inclusive and accountable bodies (mix of elected and appointed members)

Rationale for #6

  • Diversity of backgrounds and perspectives is vital to effective decision-making: We envision that  expectations with respect to diversity will be one of the principles that will be included in the charter
  • In practice the method of accomplishing this will depend on the nature and context of the organisation In many cases we expect a mixture of elected/appointed members will be a workable solution
  • We hope and expect accountability will run in several directions, and be accomplished by both formal and informal structures and by the behaviours people engage in.

Recommendation #7[edit]

a) Capacity building, facilitation, coaching, leadership development will be built into these structures to enable all entities to develop at their speed

b) this will be supported by staff

Rationale for #7

  • Self-managing organisations invest significantly in helping groups work through issues and find solutions together.  By contrast, Wikimedia has given this almost no attention and this causes problems on all kinds of levels.
  • Creating the skills and roles to enable conversations to happen effectively is crucial to making our other recommendations work
  • We expect that many movement entities will have a focus on outreach, volunteer development, skills development and other forms of capacity building more generally.
  • This is clearly going to require paid staff.