Talk:Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Transition/Discuss/Cluster A

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Questions to discuss[edit]

Since there was a limited time for discussion at the Global Conversations, and not everyone who wanted to participate was present, the same discussion around this cluster can continue here on Meta (the focus would be, ideally, on the same questions that attendees tried to answer during the events - pasted below) --Abbad (WMF) (talk) 21:54, 18 December 2020 (UTC).

  • Guiding question: What are the immediate steps we need to take to implement this initiative cluster?

Supporting questions:

  • Who needs to be involved and what does their involvement look like?
  • What do we want to achieve more specifically in 18 months?

Immediate steps[edit]

The recommendations is to create an Interim-Global-Council, who will draft a Movement Charter, and oversee implementation of the strategy recommendations. The movement charter will set (among other things) rules for the composition of the Global Council.

So the immediate next step is assemble an interim global council. The IGC will need support for drafting a movement charter, and support for overseeing implementation of recommendations.

Support for drafting a movement charter The IGC will IMHO hire paid (external) consultants to do the required research and required consultations necessary to draft a movement charter. The research will entail inventory of stakeholders and performing of a thorough stakeholder analysis. Hundreds of persons need to be interviewed prior to drafting a movement charter. This is something which can not be demanded of volunteer IGC members. For any progress to happen the IGC will have involve external consultants. And yes, those external consultants do need time to learn to understand our movement, and they will learn through hundreds of interviews. Ẃhy would we need so many interviews? We need to secure sufficient support for anything written in a draft movement charter. Adoption of the charter needs formal support (by ratification or board decision) of at least the Wikimedia Foundation, major chapter and affiliates, and foremost major online communities.

So the prerequisite step is secure a budget for research and consultancy, rough estimate: one million dollars, and add another one million dollars for translating and communication to (and with) all three hundred language communities.

Support for overseeing implementation of strategy recommendations Neither a small group of volunteers in an IGC nor a large group of volunteers in the Global Council will have the capacity (time) to collect and process the information necessary to oversee the implementation of the strategy recommendations. They do need a small group of dedicated paid staff to collect data, draft status reports, and provide visual overviews to be presented to the (Interim) Global Council. Professional requirements for staff will be inter alia experience with project portfolio management. The (Interim) Global Council will either decide on prioritization of initiatives and direct their execution or recommend on prioritization of initiatives and their execution. The team can be assembled from staff members of the WMF and one or more chapters on a project basis for the interim period. Another requirement for staff will be their capacity to persuade or seduce interested parties to propose and execute specific concrete and feasible follow-up steps to the strategy recommendations, and make SMART agreements about them. For example one or more of them could be experienced project managers able to execute project start up workshops.

So the prerequisite step is secure a budget for staff support, rough estimate: five persons.

Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 13:35, 26 December 2020 (UTC)

Where you write SMART agreements, are you referring to nl:SMART-principe? In that context then, what constitutes an agreement, and who are the parties to that agreement or contract? Vexations (talk) 16:43, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
@Vexations yes indeed Specific, Measurable, Actionable/Assignable, Realistic, Time-related (also in en:SMART_criteria). In this context between staff members and anyone executing a step towards implementing one of the strategy recommendations / initiatives. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 20:22, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
@Ad Huikeshoven: I find that mildly terrifying. The technique has been used primarily in employer-employee relationships to manage employee performance. I don't think of the WMF WFM/volunteer editor relationship as one between employer and employee. I'm also not aware of any large project like Wikipedia where a consultancy has been successful. Do you have an example where something akin to your proposal has worked? Vexations (talk) 20:32, 26 December 2020 (UTC)
You are entirely welcome to propose your own ideas for next steps. The "wiki" way is decision making based on consensus. With regard to developing a movement charter that will require imho collecting the ideas about what should be in the movement charter from key players. What I do propose are the first steps. After the first steps there will be possibly many more steps. Which will be the next step after the first step will be determined after the first step, and not before. With regard to SMART agreements is a way I propose to enable the Interim Global Council to effectively oversee the implementation of the recommendations. When somebody - that might well be a paid employee of one of the chapters, to execute something, the IGC will have to trust they are going to deliver results. Vague promises (non-SMART agreements), or non-committal agreements without obligation will not help anybody. Unless you want some recommendations to be not implemented, or posteriozed, rather than prioritized. The movement is a mix of ten thousands of unpaid volunteers, and 500 paid staff at the WMF, over 150 paid staff at WMDE, and paid staff with ten more chapters. The global conversations were about prioritization of the recommendations. We have arrived at the point of actually planning to start imlementing the top prioritized recommendations, of which IGC, MC & GC is on top.
What I wrote are my conditions to stepping into a role of (preparing) an Interim Global Council. I won't do it without staff support, and without professional support to develop a movement charter. I know other people would ask for a stipend for themselves, or for child care during meetings, or support for broadband access for online meetings. What do you need @Vexations to be able to join the IGC, or what do you need to commit to the process of IGC formation, and MC drafting? Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 13:18, 28 December 2020 (UTC)
I would need two things: broad agreement on how we're going to make decisions and tools to facilitate the decision-making process. We have neither. I want discussions to be completely open and transparent. It is absurd that it took me as long as it did to find out the usernames of the people who created the draft proposals that we were discussing. I was very unhappy with the facilitated conversations we had earlier, the Global Conversations for implementing the Wikimedia 2030 Movement Strategy on November 21 and 22. I'm dismayed that this heatmap is now "the outcome" of a "discussion". "We" successfully managed to de-prioritize "Compatibility with Accessibility Guidelines". How on earth did that happen? Did nobody find a moment to explain that not complying with the law in some countries is simply not an option? We were both there, and while we were mostly in different groups, what I saw were five minute breakout rooms where two of five or six people used up all the time and simply listed their preferences without any context or conversation. That discussion in no way represented the voice of the community. That zoom-based format, and the facilitation by the consultants of InsightPact was a failure. There was no consensus, there was not even a discussion. The way the questions were asked predetermined the outcome. "Oppose" wasn't an option, nor was "Must comply with the law". I have since volunteered, but then declined to participate in the Movement communications focus group after I received the legal forms to sign, and found I would have to use apps from companies I don't like or trust. So, what concrete proposal do I have? Build the tools first. We need tools/methodologies that facilitate (very) large group decision-making. What we have is not fit for purpose. Vexations (talk) 15:15, 28 December 2020 (UTC)
The movement charter will be about inter alia how we're going to make decisions. One of the things you want will be the outcome of work the IGC is going to do. I can understand your frustrations with the process. There were actually two rounds of global conversations, and besides that there was a survey in which over 50 groups participated. Please be aware the prioritization is about which initiatives the process of implementation will be started in the year 2021. Other initiatives will be started in later years. Blocking progress on the implementation of the prioritized initiatives will also block the implementation of other initiatives, including compatibility with accessibility guidelines. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 16:31, 28 December 2020 (UTC)
I think we're in agreement that we need some sort of process for reaching formal consensus, and people who have the required skills to guide us through that process. I'm going to try to find some inspiration in en:Lawrence Susskind's The Consensus Building Handbook. The short guide is here. Vexations (talk) 21:54, 28 December 2020 (UTC)
I disagree with a lot of this.
  • The external consulting groups hired by the WMF tend to be, putting it frankly, terrible. It is difficult to find an external group that understands our movement, and I really don't want to bet the movement charter on the WMF's ability to do that successfully this time.
  • I don't think using primarily interviews is the right way to go about this. Interviews as a process would generally exclude those who would only participate on-wiki. Additionally, it would stifle the insights that could come about via open discussion.
  • The process must be volunteer-driven. A certain amount of staff support may be helpful (I'd rather leave that decision up to the IGC itself, though), but staff cannot take over decision-making. If the IGC works in the open, some of the work could be done by non-IGC volunteers. Being a heavy task doesn't always necessitate staff.
--Yair rand (talk) 08:32, 7 January 2021 (UTC)

blocked user[edit]

With this edit diff, a user who has been blocked on English Wikipedia expressed their interest in contributing to the implementation of the Movement Charter, Interim Global Council and Global Council. See en:User_talk:SHISHIR_DUA#October_2020. Should there not be a requirement that participants are not blocked or banned on any Wikimedia project? Vexations (talk) 15:07, 9 January 2021 (UTC)

Nicht in irgendeinem. OK, die großen Projekte wie enWP, deWP, frWP... haben eine gut funktionierende diesbezügliche Infrastruktur, aber es gibt auch andere Projekte, wie z.B. die hrWP, in der sehr unangenehme Nationalisten das Sagen haben und NPOV-AutorInnen sperren. Oder Projekte ohne hinreichende Checks and balances, wie die Tech-Projekte Phab und MediaWiki, die das in undurchsichtigen Kungelrunden unter Ausschluss der Öffentlichkeit und ohne korrekte Beteiligung der Betroffenen als Starchamber durchziehen. Zumindest solche Projekte sollten klar ausgeschlossen werden. Das sollte also im Einzelfall betrachtet werden. Spätestens seit en:WP:FRAMBAN wissen wir doch alle, dass solche Starchambertribunale primär dem Machterhalt der WMF dienen. Grüße vom Sänger ♫(Reden) 12:25, 10 January 2021 (UTC)
Das ist ein guter Punkt. Nicht alle Projekte haben die Prozesse und den Reifegrad, um Ergebnisse zu erreichen, die ohne Hinterfragen allgemein übernommen werden können. Vexations (talk) 12:38, 10 January 2021 (UTC)

Some unorganized thoughts about the IGC and its work[edit]

(Sorry, this train of thought went on longer than expected, and it's kind of rambly.)

What exactly is the IGC going to be doing? There are three major tasks set out for the IGC: Creating the Charter, setting up the transfer of responsibilities from the WMF/Board (hereinafter called the "Transfer"), and strategy implementation leadership. These three tasks have considerable overlap and interdependency, and also cover quite a lot of ground.

The Movement Charter is described in broad terms in the Recommendations, with the text implying a dual role as a statement of identity (Who are we? What are our principles and goals?) and as a constitution/regulatory framework (What are the rules? How are decisions made? What are our rights? What are the roles and responsibilities of the various groups?). The latter task includes establishing the policy basis of movement structures, including "existing and new entities and decision-making bodies", many presumably to be established during the process. This will strongly tie into various elements of strategy implementation, and I would expect the IGC to be directly involved in planning the establishment of new structures, something which ties into all three of its tasks.

Outside these areas, what does it mean for the IGC to play a "leadership role in supporting the implementation of the Movement Strategy"? The IGC will not have the ability to directly allocate resources towards a problem, nor will they be able to assign existing organizations to tackle them. The IGC's primary ability besides for its roles relating to the Charter and Transfer, is to coordinate things, as a recognized central body identified as leading supporting implementation, and to make central decisions where such decisions are needed.

On that note, let's take a look at some of the "clusters" of initiatives which the Strategy process identified as those which should be prioritized for "global coordination". (Not including Cluster A, which is about the IGC/GC/Charter itself):

  • Cluster B includes an initiative to "Improve methodology to identify, propose, test, and implement changes on Wikimedia platforms", with description of certain steps to be taken. It's likely that the Technology Council, which the recommendations say will "establish processes for introducing new functionalities onto Wikimedia platforms and tools" (and "improve communication between staff developers and other technical contributors to better network, coordinate innovation, provide and obtain support, and foster input on decisions and resource allocations that impact communities"), is likely to be leading much of this effort. Both the organizing of the transfer of responsibilities to the new groups as well as the codification of of their roles and responsibilities are among the tasks given to the Interim Global Council. As such, this initiative seems clearly dependent on the IGC's work, while not being something the IGC will work on directly. The TC's activities will presumably connect to the work of the Hubs (which are to be involved in "Developing appropriate technologies to better serve communities"), and the WMF, affiliates, and unaffiliated volunteer developers. The improved methodology is supposed to "Involve representatives of designers, technical developers, communities, and user profiles"; the IGC should probably consult with these groups when establishing the TC.
  • Cluster C: Skills and leadership development. A lot of things in this cluster are about global activities ("a systematic, global approach to skill development", "globally-coordinated leadership development plan", "Procedures [...] to facilitate the transfer of knowledge at global and local levels.") and the creation of skill-learning-focused systems, services, platforms, and technological infrastructure. I think it's safe to say that this will be largely coordinated by the Capacity Building Thematic Hub, if it is to be created.
  • Cluster D: Hubs. It's clear that the IGC should lead the coordinating efforts here. The general direction of hubs must become clear before the Charter is finalized, as the Charter will "Lay the values, principles and policy basis for Movement structures, including the roles and responsibilities of the [...] hubs".
  • Cluster E: Funding for underrepresented communities. "Dedicate a significantly larger amount of Movement funding to support emerging and marginalized communities and groups based on their needs, including reimbursement for staffing, operational costs, and other activities not directly related to adding, curating or editing content." The Movement Charter is to "Set requirements and criteria for decisions and processes... e.g. for... Ensuring Movement-wide revenue generation and distribution; Giving a common direction on how resources should be allocated with appropriate accountability mechanisms.". And of course, hubs will facilitate resource allocation, and will be a critical component of establishing funding for underrepresented communities. The Global Council will set "frameworks on resource allocation and revenue generation for the Movement". The IGC has the task of making this all happen, if indirectly for some of it.
  • Cluster F: "Increase awareness about the Wikimedia Movement, its values, achievements, projects, and communities worldwide..." The Charter will be critical for this. Aside from the organizational element of the Charter, it will also serve an important role in answering who we are. The WMF can't explain to the world what Wikimedia's values are, if the organization itself has no idea what those values are. Again, something for the IGC to build, together with the communities.

The recommendations also mention several tasks without specifying who is to carry them out. Many of these, I would assume, would be done by the IGC or the eventual Global Council. Some examples:

  • "Create a policy applying to all Movement entities to outline rules for revenue generation..."
  • Several tasks relating to hubs: "Actively facilitate and support the creation of [hubs]", "Assess which thematic [...] or geographic areas [...] need structures that support coordination across stakeholders." "A framework for evaluating the success and impact of hubs will need to be developed, as well as methods of ensuring that hubs are interconnected."
  • "Other existing Movement structures, such as the Affiliations Committee or Funds Dissemination Committee, will be reviewed and adapted during implementation and the development of the Charter." This is presumably an IGC job, part of the Charter work.
  • "Establish good practice guidelines for how boards function" to be enforced by the Global Council.
  • Develop a "systematic approach to improve satisfaction and productivity".
  • Establish "common and contextualized indicators and desired impacts for measuring and monitoring progress on the goals of the strategic direction".
  • "Establish a knowledge-base system with access to all Movement learning assets". (This may require developer resources, but I would expect its overall creation to be directed either by the IGC, the GC, or the community directly.)
  • "Create pathways to new projects". (Sounds like a policy? Might be doable with just an RfC.)

And of course, there are the many general policy decisions that need to be integrated into the Charter itself, of which the Recommendations name a few. (Not going into that here.) Like all the IGC's activities, these should be worked on "openly, transparently, and in close collaboration with the broader movement and communities". I think the IGC will likely work in committees, but I do not think, as has been suggested, that they would be simply divided between a committee each for "the Charter" and "strategy implementation oversight". I also suspect that the IGC will have a considerably larger membership than has been suggested so far.

What is the skillset and qualifications which IGC members should have? (Many tasks will likely be distributed among the group, so not all members need all the relevant skills, I would think.)

  • Most important, is that IGC members should be able to effectively consult with communities, to effectively start open discussions which lead to consensus-backed conclusions. There should be familiarity, trust.
  • The IGC must be able to oversee Charter development "in consultation with communities, organizations and subject matter experts", so members need to be capable of effectively consulting with the latter two groups as well.
  • Policy-writing skills. Good communication skills. Being very multilingual is a plus.
  • Familiarity with movement structures and processes, and movement governance.
  • Specialized expertise: Funds dissemination, technology development, fundraising, organization management, board management, legal skills (though the IGC will be have independent legal support, for the Transfer, it would still be helpful), documentation competency...
    • (That one task about assessing which thematic areas need hubs makes me think that familiarity with the example areas could be helpful: "advocacy, capacity building, partnerships, research".)
  • The IGC is described as consisting of "participants representative of the diversity of the global Movement".
  • Familiarity with underlying Wikimedia principles.

(Might add more later.) --Yair rand (talk) 12:09, 22 January 2021 (UTC)

The Strategy Recommendations describe the IGC as working "openly, transparently, and in close collaboration with the broader movement and communities". Let us assume that "transparently" means that everyone can see the work being done, and "openly" means that everyone can participate in it. The activities would have to be done largely on-wiki, with continual open discussion ("in close collaboration") with the wider community (probably involving a lot of summarizing/compressing of discussions with link trees). While the internal structuring/functioning of the IGC should be mostly up to the body itself, I can imagine a situation where there are many subgroups ("task forces"? "working groups"? "committees"? Sure, let's go with that.), each dealing with an area of the IGC's work. Many people not part of the relevant subgroup (or the IGC at all) would be very involved in their work. A committee would make sure that things keep pushing forward even during times when outside interest wains (or to abandon an unnecessary thread), and would establish when a sub-area is "finished", having arrived at a decision, which could be placed into the flow of work of the IGC as a whole. I think the committees could be relatively informal, and I imagine many IGC members would be members of multiple committees.

Possible division of labor within the IGC, in committees for:

  • Overall Charter structure/synthesizing. Drafting, coordinating, collecting the output of the other groups into a coherent document.
    • One subcommittee for making the Charter language as flowery as possible, another for maximizing legalese-level precision, and a third to tell the first two to shut up because otherwise the thing's going to be impossible to translate. /jk
  • Basic principles and overall goals. Fulfill the "provide a sense of belonging", "create a common understanding of what defines being part of our Movement" part of the Charter per Strategy, and put forward a core set of things that downstream elements build off of.
  • Technology-related tasks: The roles and responsibilities of the Technology Council, software development principles (open source, open development, privacy/transparency consciousness, etc...), nonnegotiable requirements for Wikimedia software (as will be mandated by the Charter), maybe organizations' roles and responsibilities relating to technology.
  • Basic requirements/expectations/responsibilities which apply to all Wikimedia organizations, including WMF and affiliates.
    • Board good practice guidelines, to be enforced by GC. (Initiative #27.)
      • (Recommendations don't specifically say that the drafting is to be done by the IGC, but I don't think we want the GC itself to be writing the same document that it's going to be enforcing, and I don't think there's any other group that can do this.)
    • Rights of affiliates, etc.
  • The Global Council. Authority, roles and responsibilities, how it relates to the rest of the movement. Establishment process, makeup, basic functioning.
  • Hubs: Governance, standards, systems, coordinating/supporting initial establishment, outlining scope and expectations.
    • Some hubs are priority: CB Hub may be necessary for a lot of strategy. There should probably be at least one regional and one thematic hub well on their way to functioning by the completion of the Charter. (This is complicated by the fact that some things are going to be undefined until after the Charter is ratified, so there's a bit of a circular dependency issue in that.)
    • This area is going to be heavy. We're going to have quite a few brand-new organizations being created from scratch, with considerable responsibilities, and these will all need people. The thematic hubs may need unusual rules for their systems of governance.
    • "A framework for evaluating the success and impact of hubs will need to be developed". Unsure if IGC should handle this.
    • "high standards of diversity, inclusion, accountability, and equity in decision-making as per the Movement Charter"
  • Project communities: Rights and responsibilities, rules, relationship with organizations and other structures.
  • Revenue generation:
    • Decision processes outlined in the Charter, per the Recommendation.
    • Basics of Initiative #4, maybe. The global policy, maybe embedded or referenced in the Charter. ("Distribute the responsibility of revenue generation across Movement entities...")
  • Resource allocation, general procedure and requirements:
    • How the GC and hubs and WMF and affiliates will work together in this area, consultations, etc. (Initiative #26.)
    • "Appropriate accountability mechanisms", or at least the basic principles of how they should work.
    • Include review of FDC, per the Recommendation.
    • This will be broad/general work; the specific "frameworks" for allocating resources are to be set by the GC per the recommendations.
  • (Maybe.) Wikimedia documentation strategy. Systems of transparency, communication, data preservation/organization, and public reporting.
  • Framework for top-level/movement-wide decision-making, rules for decision-making processes.
  • Initial (and maybe minimal-ish) versions of the shared living documents mentioned in Recommendation 5 (initiative 28). I expect that these documents will be referenced in the Charter, tying into the broader system. May tie into the hubs creation work, if they are to be given particular authorities by or over these documents.
    • (Could maybe be further split into subgroups.)
  • Mandate conflict resolution mechanisms. Hopefully once the Charter and documents are well hammered out, we won't have as much room for the frequent authority conflicts we have nowadays, but better safe than sorry. As the strategy says, "Mechanisms to resolve conflicts regarding mandate and authority over roles in our Movement will be designed and agreed upon." This is something that, for high level conflicts at least, should be set up by the IGC and maybe integrated into the Charter. (I really hope this doesn't include another pseudo-court system, but I worry that it might... :( Oh well.) This is initiative number ... Actually, this is completely absent from the initiatives list, and I don't know why.
  • Putting together "requirements and criteria for decisions and processes ... for ... Maintaining safe collaborative environments", per the Strategy Recommendation. Probably going to be a pretty complicated area of work on its own.
  • The Transfer. The mechanics, process, how to ensure that organizations are bound by decisions made by the relevant bodies, etc. Has many dependencies on the Charter contents, though. Start later on in the process?
  • Plus one or two overseeing certain miscellaneous strategy initiatives that might be considered high-priority, maybe.

This would add up to ~15 or so groups, perhaps of varying sizes. (Throwing around numbers: Averaging ~7-10 to a group with every other IGC member being part of two groups would add up to ~70-100 members.)

Most of these tasks tie directly into building the Charter. They are large and complex, most are exceedingly important for the movement, and all should be done right. This is a lot of work to do, and it's very important to avoid overwhelming the IGC members, especially because that will deter many types of contributors from running for the position. It should be possible to be a volunteer active editor who creates/curates content, an active functionary/userrights-holder (or developer, or outreach coordinator, or ...), and a IGC member simultaneously, within a contributor's limited volunteer time. If it's not possible, the IGC will lack important perspectives. The IGC should not be limited to the kinds of contributors who want to spend endless time on things like this. I'm not sure how that could be accomplished; dividing up tasks into smaller units only goes so far.

(Should I split these thoughts off into a separate page, maybe?) --Yair rand (talk) 08:01, 1 March 2021 (UTC)

Council powers[edit]

Some food for thoughts for the Global Council, including the pressing issue of "separation of powers" between different foras of our Movement. dwf² 10:52, 1 February 2021 (UTC)