How to move forward
Jan-Bart de Vreede discussing
- What was this session about?
It was an opportunity to get to know the members of the Board of Trustees and how do they manage their work.
- What are the next steps to be taken?
No further steps were planned to be taken.
- Who is the person to reach out to?
Feel free to reach out to each board member.
see the Commons category
This session documentation was (partly) written and approved by the table hosts.
- Original Description
- World café with one table and one topic per Board member, under the headline "Being a board member – joys and struggles." Topics range from how to develop healthy group dynamics to how to deal with different positions within the Board.
- Desired Outcome
- Get to know each other, learn best practices and share experience.
- All conference participants
- Session Format
- World café with seven tables (as much as WMF Board members are present); 120 min in total
- Alice Wiegand, Frida Brioschi, Jan-Bart de Vreede, Maria Sefidari, Patricio Lorente, Samuel Klein and Stu West
- Summary of the session (written by the table hosts)
Seven members of the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation attended the Wikimedia Conference. Each member hosted one of the seven world café tables, each table had one main question. The questions were:
- How do you review the work of your organization?
- How do you recruit new Board members?
- How do you involve your community?
- How do you hold effective meetings?
- How do you divide tasks?
- How do you resolve differences of opinion on your Board?
- How do you set annual or future goals?
How do you review the work of your organization?
Samuel (SJ) Klein hosted the table about how to review the work of your organisation
Samuel “SJ” Klein hosted the table about how to review projects, how often, and who was involved. It was mostly participants sharing with one another how they think about this.
Interesting comments participants made:
- Be bold, try new things, gain experience. Don't be afraid of failure: if none of your projects are failing, you're not trying hard enough.
- Talk about & share early failures. Easier to do early than late (after a long project w/o success)
- Look for feedback early and often - first feedback within a few weeks. Share when you can. Plan to be flexible: and respond to it.
- Good feedback: expand & share. Bad feedback: fix. No feedback: stop.
- Pick an audience or project, ask what's really important there? Even if it's not (yet) easy to measure. Metrics are nice, but not everything.
- Make sure that audience is part of the group reviewing the project.
How do you recruit new Board members?
Alice Wiegand led the table around the question how to recruit new board members
Alice Wiegand led the table around the challenges and opportunities affiliates experience when they are looking for new board members. Alice and the participants shared their practices to reach out to potential candidates.
- WMSE has an election committee built with members, board members and externals, which is in charge of pre-selecting new Board members with regards to a balanced board structure, skills and competences. The committee presents a complete set of Board members to the assembly which then votes for the entire slate. Another chapter practices that each board member introduces a potential new member to the board and the assembly.
- An often mentioned issue was that candidates don't have a proper picture of the role the Board has, which then leads to unsatisfied expectations.
- Some affiliates have problems to find people who are willing to take the responsibility to be chair, most are fine to a board member but shy away from more exposed functions. At the same it is often the same people who are interested in being a board member in each election, new potential candidates are hard to find
A diagram visualising the discussion on community involvement; drawn by DerekvG
Patricio Lorente hosted the table on community involvement.
Before answering the main questions, participants discussed what are the constituent parts of “the community”. Participants agreed that “the community” consists (at least) in “Wikinauts” (individual editors, on- and off-wiki Volunteers, …), affiliates and institutions (public authorities, GLAMs). It was mentioned that also like-minded organisations, like OKF, are part of the wide community. Participants agreed that no single community member could represent the community and the community didn’t like to be treated as “customers”, like by Google or Facebook.
Participants criticised that the WMF looked at the world through glasses tainted by English (language) / US (country) worldview and were not enough in touch with other communities (like India with around 30 language communities).
Tackling the main question, participants discussed that WMF and the affiliates could (or should or already have) complementary roles. Affiliates could help the WMF to loose its English/US centricity, Participants discussed the need of a global vision including community input and creating doors to sub-communities.
One proposed action were survey to get in touch with the communities in general, to get to know their needs and expectations.
How do you hold effective meetings?
María Sefidari hosted the table about holding effective meeting
María Sefidari hosted the table about holding effective meeting.
Some things that emerged after talking about how different groups organise is that most people believe that physical (in-person) meetings have the most value. There are some cases where the distance makes this very difficult however, so instead of arriving in advance so they can be rested, some groups need to resort to virtual or IRC meetings.
Another thing that emerged was that in order for the meeting to be more effective, having team feeling is very important. Doing activities after the meeting to improve on this seems to be helpful. Respecting each others' turn to talk, making sure that everyone participates, and accounting for people who don't have that language as their native language is also very important, and having a facilitator that can do this during a meeting is a great asset, as well as having a designated person (and probably not a board member so they can fully participate) take notes of the meeting.
How do you divide tasks?
Frieda Brioschi led the table on dividing tasks. She described how the board divides activities between its members and with the staff.
Frieda told that they currently have 3 committees (Human Resource, Board Governance and Audit) plus four seats as Liaisons (2 FDC, 2 AffCom). Every committees reports during the board’s meeting if there're any information to be shared. Each role is described in the board manual. For non-ordinary activities the board created an ad-hoc team that may be composed by board members, staff and external consultants.
As table participants shared, similar structures are present in the biggest organisations; small-medium organisations usually rely on a mixed structure were staff (if available) and board roles are a bit overlapping.
How do you resolve differences of opinion on your Board?
Jan-Bart de Vreede led the table about the question how the members of the board resolve differences of opinion.
How do you set annual or future goals?
Stuart (Stu) West hosted the table on annual/future goals.