Wikimedia Deutschland/innovationsmotor

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Innovation Engine

This page documents a pilot in progress.

Information may be incomplete and change as the pilot progresses. Please contact the program manager before formally citing or reusing results from this page.

The Strategic Direction

The Innovation Engine is a strategy and part of the overall strategies for Wikimedia Deutschland (WMDE) three fields of action - volunteers, technology and conditions for free knowledge - that was developed in 2018. Within the goal of this strategy a framework was chosen as the basic method to develop a social-innovation accelerator (working title). The aim of the Innovation Engine is to generate, prototype and implement powerful ideas that will reduce the social, political and technical barriers preventing people from accessing and contributing to free knowledge.

The Challenge

Wikimedia sees itself as a social movement with the aim to become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge by 2030. However, in our rapidly changing world many of the ideas and approaches of the past decades no longer work. This also has an effect on our vision of free knowledge, because Wikimedia projects are used worldwide. In order to keep pace with the changes or even be one step ahead, Wikimedia needs a steady Innovation Engine that drives the development of innovative products and services for all users and potential ones.

The Pilot

In line with the Wikimedia Movement's Strategic Direction, the Innovation Engine is designed as an open participatory mechanism that should bring together Wikimedia communities, other Wikimedia chapters, external partner organizations and potential free knowledge enthusiasts to gather input and develop new products and tools for free knowledge. In the end, it should drive innovations and therefore strengthen the movement towards its overarching mission.

We opted for an accelerator as the most suitable approach and adapted it to WMDE strategic direction. This particular approach gives us the opportunity to fast-forward ideas and solutions through ideation, rapid prototyping, testing and iteration. With this, we assume to gather pace towards innovation.

In June 2019, we kick-started the Innovation Engine as a pilot. In this pilot, we want to test our assumptions behind the concept and explore what formats, frameworks and/or methods works best for

  • co-creative ideation and evaluation of ideas
  • rapid prototyping and testing
  • sustainably implementing tested ideas.

The Innovation Engine consists of three components that build on each other:


Coming up with new ideas!


Develop, challenge and evolve ideas in reality!

Organisation Builder

Build and grow sustainably!

Purpose We run research to identify "knowledge barriers" and call on the free knowledge enthusiasts - in- and outside the Wikimedia communities - to brainstorm and ideate new solutions and approaches that will tackle our challenges. Through rapid prototyping, we want to quickly build, test and iterate those ideas in order to learn which ones work, which ones can grow, and which ones don’t. This phase is intended to help early-stage innovations refine and develop their Unique Seling Point (USP) and business model through expert coaching, 1-2-1 mentoring and other input from the movement.
Expected outcome(s) We will have identified and shortlisted ideas, which will then be turned into prototypes and tested in the next phase. We will have developed prototypes and demos or even Minimum Viable Product(s) (MVPs) in the form of products, services or activation measures. We will have supported early-stage innovation to transform to (financially) independent entities.

The Implementation

All steps, formats, frameworks and/or methods mentioned below are subject to changes. We are prototyping the Innovation Engine in real time by exploring formats, methods etc. testing and iterating quickly in order to fail fast (in a positive way) and learn.
Steps Description Status
Research *Incubator Phase*

This initial field research aims to identify knowledge barriers and to gain a (better) understanding of possible target groups. The results of field research serve as a basis for the development and implementation of solutions.

A summary of the exploration phase and an extract of the research: English version // Deutsche Version

Ideation *Incubator Phase*

The aim is to generate a large quantity of ideas and then diversify, develop, sort and select the best, most practical or most innovative ones in order to inspire new and better solutions and products for free knowledge. We want to test different ideation formats with people from different background applying different methods.

  • "Walk by" ideation: We invite the Wikimedia communities, chapters/affiliate and partner organisations to pin their ideas on a pinboard when "walking by during Wikimania 2019 in Stockholm.
  • Ideation workshops: We intend to run 2-3 ideation workshops with people from different background in and outside the Wikimedia movement.
Approx. starts August 15, 2019
Evaluation and reflection I *Incubator Phase*

In this step, we want to evaluate both: (1) the ideas developed in the ideation formats and (2) the framework of the entire incubator. This means for

(1) The selection of "best ideas" is based on the following evaluation criteria:

  • Does the idea meet the need of the target group? Does it solve the problem?
  • How feasible is the idea (in terms of prototyping readiness)?
  • Does the idea have the potential to be implemented / grow sustainably?

(2) Concept to be defined.

Approx. starts beginning of October 2019
Prototyping *Accelerator Phase*

We intend to explore 2-3 formats for prototyping:

  • 24h-30h Hackathon / Makeathon
  • 2-3 days bootcamp
  • Outsourcing design sprints / bootcamp to external (partner) organisations (e.g. universities)

Besides the format, we are interested in testing the set up of participants. Some formats may have a mixture of people from and outside the Wikimedia movements, others may only include people outside or inside the movement.

Approx. starts mid-October 2019
Evaluation and reflection II *Accelerator Phase*

Similar to the evaluation and reflection I, we intend to evaluate both: (1) the prototypes developed in the accelerator phase and (2) the framework of the accelerator.

Concept to be defined.

Approx. starts December 2019
Organisation Builder *Organisation Builder Phase*

Implementation concept to be defined.

To be defined.


If you have any questions, please reach out to Kannika Thaimai, Program Manager Wikimedia Deutschland