Wikimedia Foundation Chief Executive Officer/Updates/Annual plan update/de

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Hallo zusammen,

As I near my one-and-a-half year mark as CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation, I intend to continue providing updates here and elsewhere every few months based on your ongoing feedback. (You can find my note from January 2023 here, and all of my past letters on Meta).

My top three priorities have remained consistent: (1) strategy/planning, (2) leadership, and (3) culture/values. On strategy, Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees Chair Nataliia Tymkiv recently shared the outcomes of a strategic planning retreat that brought together Foundation leadership with the Wikimedia Endowment Board and members of the Movement Charter Drafting Committee. On planning, I will share more below.

On leadership, last Friday, our Chief Product & Technology Officer Selena Deckelmann reflected on her first six months on the job. Selena named some of the big issues she hopes to help us all tackle in the years to come. Thank you to those who have already given her some initial reactions.

Finally, I continue to believe more strongly than ever that culture and values will be the most sustainable way to make lasting, positive change together – on this front, the Wikimedia Foundation will complete a refresh of our organizational values by July.  

The main purpose of this letter is to point you to the Foundation’s draft annual plan for our coming fiscal year (July 2023 through June 2024). One of the first tasks I named when I started this job was to reimagine the Foundation’s annual planning processes. Last year’s plan, my first at the Foundation, was focused on radically changing how we did our work. This included organizing our work more regionally to better respond to varying needs around the world, and also leveling up our own performance, accountability, and internal collaboration. This has put us in a better position to more meaningfully describe what we can do in the year ahead.  

Five quick observations about the draft plan before you hopefully take time to look at the 17,000+ word document:

  1. Looking outward: Like last year, the plan starts by looking outward and persistently asking ‘what does the world need from us now’? This question remains at the heart of the Foundation’s approach to strategy and planning. Earlier this year, we shared external trends impacting the mission of free knowledge, and built on those trends with a well-attended community conversation about recent advancements in generative AI and what that may mean for the projects. Your reflections on these trends is probably the most important way to help make sure we’re all focused on the right things over the long term.
  2. Anchored in movement strategy: For the second year, the plan is firmly and unambiguously anchored in movement strategy. Our intention is to connect the Foundation’s work even more deeply with the Movement Strategy Recommendations for more rapid progress towards the 2030 Strategic Direction. This is made actionable in our commitments to advancing knowledge equity, growing the resource base for community-driven priorities, and making sure the Foundation’s own effectiveness measurably improves from learning and iteration.  
  3. Our role in Product & Technology: Wikimedia’s people-centered movement is powered by product and technology delivered by the Foundation and volunteers. We have tried to more intentionally describe our unique role as the platform provider supporting communities who are collaborating on a massive scale. The bulk of this effort, called “Wiki Experiences,” recognizes that volunteers are at the heart of the Wikimedian process of sensemaking and knowledge creation, and prioritizes established editors (including those with extended rights, like admins, stewards, patrollers, and moderators of all kinds, also known as functionaries) to ensure that they have the right tools for the critical work they do every day to expand and improve quality content, as well as manage community processes.
  4. Slower growth and trade-offs: As you will see in the draft plan, an important driver of multi-year strategic planning will focus on the structure of the Foundation’s budget, future financial projections, and possible revenue/product trade-offs. As I shared in my note in January, given the revenue shortfall from the December English fundraising campaign, as well as an uncertain global economic outlook, the Foundation is projecting reduced expenses and slower growth than in past years. Over the past month, we have made internal budget cuts, prioritizing non-personnel expenses but also reducing staffing by 5 percent. These difficult decisions were made to support a more sustainable trajectory in expenses for the coming few years, and also to maintain our overall funding levels to movement partners (including more funding in all regions while prioritizing proportionally larger growth in underrepresented regions).
  5. More granular information about how the Foundation operates. To increase visibility and accountability, this annual plan includes more detailed financial projections, such as various budget breakdowns of how we allocate our resources. It also shares more granular organizational information, such as our department goals, people processes, global guidelines, and compensation principles. This is meant to complement some of the Foundation’s recently published Diff posts outlining our approach to pay visibility and describing how we support a highly-distributed remote workforce. I hope this level of detail will result in more good-faith conversations about what is, and what is not, possible to do with the resources that we have.

Over the next month, all of us at the Wikimedia Foundation look forward to hearing more from you on the direction we are taking. We have tried to enable this in whatever form you prefer: on-wiki on Meta, project village pumps, and open calls both virtual and in person that are being hosted over the coming weeks, many in partnership with global communities around the world. Your comments, reflections, and provocations will help improve what we have proposed to do before the Foundation’s Board of Trustees considers the plan and budget in their June meeting.

I continue to welcome your direct engagement at miskander(_AT_) or on my talk page.


Maryana Iskander

Wikimedia Foundation CEO

p.s. On a more personal note – in keeping with the tradition of transparency on additional board roles, earlier this year I shared with the Wikimedia Foundation Trustees that I am under consideration to join the board of Yale University, my law school alma mater. The alumni election process is underway now, and I will let you know the results when they are finalized.