Wikimedia has changed the way knowledge is created and used, and has been a pioneer in keeping the internet a space for collaboration and learning. In the light of our new strategic direction, we need to reflect whether the structures that got us where we are now will be able to get us into the future – a future where Wikimedia will be the essential infrastructure in the ecosystem of free knowledge. The organizational structures in the Wikimedia movement have often grown randomly, non-strategically, or were developed in contexts that are no longer present or relevant; there has never been a master plan for the distribution of roles and responsibilities of Wikimedia organizations and groups.
- there is currently no global body that has the mandate to lead decision-making processes for the movement and no process to implement these decisions and iterate the changes together;
- power is centralized in a few organizations;
- we are lacking a clear definition of leadership in the movement;
- we don’t have a shared understanding of which organizational model can best serve our mission, and have never defined a clear path of development for the organizations and groups.
The role of the Wikimedia Foundation itself ranges from a grantmaker, platform provider, over a global fundraiser, to a community supporter and coordinator.
If we would start the movement from scratch, how would we structure ourselves and how would we distribute the work that we do to best serve our mission?
These questions are not meant to be answered one-to-one but should help the group frame their own conversations and their consultations with movement stakeholders.
- What is the definition of the “Wikimedia movement”—who is in it and what roles do they play?
- What are the changes we need to make in our organizational structures, global decision making processes, and power dynamics in order to live up to our strategic priority of equity?
- How do we share responsibilities across the global movement so that people, organizations and groups are empowered to best serve our mission and advance towards our strategic direction?
- What are the roles and purposes of the Wikimedia Foundation, of its affiliates and committees?
- What processes do we need to initiate to manage future change in an inclusive, participatory, but yet effective way?
||Organization / project
|Anna Torres Adell
||Latin America and Western Europe
||Funds Dissemination Committee
||Northern America, Europe
||West Bengal Wikimedians User Group
||Central and Eastern Europe
||Northern America, Central and Eastern Europe
||Northern America, Oceania
||Central and Eastern Europe
||Wikimedians of Uganda
||Wikimedians of Tunisia
- Abraham Taherivand (ED Wikimedia Deutschland) - stepped down Jan 2019, replaced by Lukas Mezger
- Georgina B. Fields (Wikimedia Foundation) - stepped down June 2019 on leaving the WMF
Reports and documents
This is an overview of the outputs from the discussion about Roles and Responsibilities at the Wikimedia Conference 2018.
The group discussed: 1. What the scope of this thematic area should be; 2. Who should be in the Working Group; 3. How the Working Group should work.
The main points from the Roles and Responsibility group discussion at the Wikimedia Conference 2018 were:
- It is necessary to see the organisational structure of the Wikimedia Movement in all its complexity and not as a structure with WMF as its center; WMF is one of the agents.
- There is a need to openly consider the current power dynamics in relation to future organisational development.
- Focus on developing into an equitable organisational structure.
The group formulated a list of questions that relate to
- The organisational structure of the Wikimedia Movement – example:
- Should we be organized in a centralized way or a more distributed way, Cathedral vs. Bazaar?
- Power dynamics – example:
- What are the power structures we would like to see exist?
- Leadership – example:
- How are we defining leadership? what are leaders responsible for?
- Processes/strategies – example:
- How can we use "change management" theory/methods/consultants to facilitate the evolution of roles and responsibilities in the Movement?
- Suggested method to ensure diversity:
- Consider interdependent pairs of “old - new”, “inside - outside”, “stabilizing - disruptive”, “visual - structure”, “staff - wikimedian”
- Ideally each person would have more than one of the above characteristics and/or be a “bridge character”
- Other keywords:
- Inclusive (specifically include marginalised and disruptive voices)
- Comfortable with openness
- Time available
- Suggested roles in the group:
- External facilitator (without having too high expectations of external consultants)
- Generally: a strong set of functional roles (communications, facilitation, etc.)
The group mainly focused on the process design itself. 3 preconditions for a successful process were identified:
- flexibility of the ongoing process, at the same time the Working Group should reach concrete outcomes.
- transparency and clarity about the power distribution is key in this conversation.
- keeping Wikimedia community in the loop throughout; the process has to be well designed in order to have legitimate rich outcomes.
- Possible concrete actions for the Working Groups
- agree on name
- agree on rules of interaction and decision-making
- identify underlying shared values and build trust
- map the Movement status quo
- reach out to the external inputs (stakeholders as well as existing research)
- A few realistic scenarios for the Movement
- Next steps
- Discuss scenarios with the Wikimedia community
If you would like to know more details about the Working Group discussions on this theme, please consult the documentation.
This is a non-exhaustive list. Please add more sources that provide context, background information and insights related to the thematic area.