WIKIMEDIA CONFERENCE 2018 WORKING GROUPS REPORT
Roles & Responsibilities
The group started their conversation with the announced topic of Roles and Responsibilities. Through the discussion, it grew into a discussion about power dynamics and the need to challenge the status quo and rethink the overall structure of the Movement (including leadership, power distribution, decision-making, communication, etc).
One of the metaphors used by the group was “Cathedral vs. Bazaar” that describes two distinctively different ways to build software. At the same time in organisational development this metaphor is also used to describe different modes of collaboration.
In this context, the current role of the WMF was mentioned on different stages of the conversation. While WMF on one hand secures stability in the development of the movement, its central role constraints the potential that is evolving with the growth of the whole movement. The discussion group also found it important that the Working Group should see the movement in its complexity and not as a linear structure with the WMF in the centre (WMF is one of the agents).
Another question, that should be at the top of the agenda of the Working Group is the interdependency between the [possible] new structure and a change in power dynamics. It is crucial to be transparent and bold about the power question in order to develop realistic scenarios for the strategic development of the movement.
“What are the power structures we would like to see exist?”: The answering of this question foresees a complex process of challenging the status quo and finding new working models.
Using “Persona” method, the current group described the diversity of the Working Group through interdependent pairs of “old - new”, “inside - outside”, “stabilizing - disruptive”, “visual - structure”, “staff - volunteer”. The main spirit of the working group should be collaboration and ability to create alliances, at the same time it should include marginalised and disruptive voices. People should have time for this work and should be comfortable with open processes. Particular attention was paid to the role of an external facilitator as well as a person, who will manage the process. On the other hand, it has been mentioned that the Working Group should be cautious with attaching too high expectations to the role of external consultants.
During the conference, the discussion group developed a suggested plan of activities, but the main attention was devoted to the process design itself due to the sensitive and complex nature of the topic.
The main pre-conditions for a successful process can be summed up to three: 1) flexibility with the open ongoing process; at the same time the Working Group should reach concrete outcomes; 2) transparency and clarity about the power distribution is key in this conversation; 3) keeping the Wikimedia community in the loop throughout; the process has to be well designed in order to have legitimate rich outcomes.
When it comes to the possible actions, there are few steps brainstormed by the discussion group during the conference: the Working Group should agree on its name, rules of interaction and identify underlying shared values. Next phase can include a mapping exercise of the movement status quo as well as reaching out to get external inputs. The core outcomes of the process will be a few realistic scenarios. These scenarios should later on be discussed with the Wikimedia community and possibly iterated accordingly.