Minutes 2012-09-08/Strategy day

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Part of the Board meeting on 8-9 September 2012 incorporated a strategy day. This day has been recorded here, but was not a formal meeting, and as such it has not been minuted as one.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Everyone introduced themselves, and a few ground rules were laid down. Fae wanted more of the notes about the meeting to be captured than last year - this will be Richard's role. Steven, the facilitator, went over the idea of a 'feedback sandwich' - having a positive, then a negative, then a positive. He encouraged everyone to be as positive as they can, rather than focusing on negativity.

The outcome from today should be an activity plan!

We reviewed our shared vision, at Vision, and also reviewed the Strategy Day minutes from last year (on the office wiki)

Hoped-for Outcomes[edit | edit source]

Everyone wrote down what they wanted from today, both personally, and for the group.

  • Set out a realistic, comprehensive activity plan for 2013, and understanding of how 2012 activity plan will lead into that.
  • Reduce stress levels by having consensus and common understanding between staff and trustees.
  • Formulate an activity plan that gives me and the rest of the staff a good plan to work around for the next year ("Get a plan that works, and is clear from my viewpoint")
  • Understand where each of the board members are coming from with their opinions
  • Gain consensus for a plan
  • Find clarity
  • Creates something ambitious but achievable
  • Create something that the community will endorse and love
  • "I want a horse, not a camel" - a plan that will work well, rather than be an incomplete jigsaw of a plan
  • Remind us that we have a mission
  • Heal some wounds
  • 'Focus on Forward'
  • Stop reporting statuses. Instead, report proposals, issues, and risks.
  • Ensure all trustees have training as a requirement
  • Place education outreach in a central position in future plans
  • Agree the activities plan (nearly!)
  • Think strategically
  • Take a step back from some <illegible>
  • Start simple - one page. Dashboard rather than reports.
  • Board to focus on important, not urgent.

We then discussed the various problems we're coming across: particularly civility. An uncivil environment makes it difficult for us to function. It'd be a good idea to have 'civility' as a value, perhaps? Or civil discourse? Doug says that the important thing is to create an environment in which people feel that they can contribute. Meeting people in real life is a good idea and helps solve the issue, a little.

Problems this generates:

  • how can we develop new volunteers if they take their first step into Wikimedia UK and see people shouting at each other?
  • Also communications on the Board and between board and staff?

Our values[edit | edit source]

WMUK strategy discussion 8 Sept 2012 sheet 9.jpg WMUK strategy discussion 8 Sept 2012 sheet 10.jpg
  • Should 'niceness' be a value for Wikimedia UK?
    • We want to create a welcoming and supportive environment in which effort is appreciated
    • Promote a welcoming community
    • Establish a welcoming and convivial environment
  • Therefore, we want to be promoting a welcoming or convivial or congenial or supportive environment.
  • "To be congenial, supportive and welcoming."

What do we value? We value:

  • Openness
  • Volunteers
  • Efficient use of donor funds
  • Consensus
  • Collaboration

Brainstorming session[edit | edit source]

WMUK strategy discussion 8 Sept 2012 sheet 6.jpg WMUK strategy discussion 8 Sept 2012 sheet 7.jpg

Things slowing down the mission[edit | edit source]

This is a list of things which various people felt were harming the mission. It doesn't reflect whether or not these were minority or majority views.

  • Opaque and inconsistent reporting of finances and activities
  • Lack of strategic scalability
  • Forgetting targets from last year (or last quarter) and not reporting against them
  • Lack of recruitment process for volunteers or standard support
  • Lack of conversion process between online and offline volunteers
  • Hassle on standardization of how to execute partnerships
  • Community of Wikimedians who might be paid professionals is apparently small (is it really, or is this a lack of identification? Or do they all work for the WMF now?)
  • Board turnover and changing roles causes destabilization
  • It seems incredibly hard to employee people who have expertize (what sort of expertise?)
  • Lack of developer resources in the office
  • Lack of admin capacity in the office
  • not enough volunteers
  • not getting enough new volunteers
  • lack of consensus about aims and strategy
  • not enough capacity to exploit all opportunities (e.g. staff)
  • not getting scalability
  • unclear about boundaries between staff/volunteers/partner orgs
  • no stability and consistency of the board
  • not developing the community
  • no usability of Wikipedia and other projects (when we train newcomers)

Things pushing forward the mission[edit | edit source]

  • Staff supporting logistics
  • Good staff
  • History of successes (EduWiki, BL WIR...)
  • Better board meetings
  • Financial situation
  • People queuing up to give us money - financial abundance
  • Wikipedia is massively popular and respected
  • 85 active volunteers (no passive volunteers?)
  • ample funds and the ability to spend them
  • extending our network of contacts
  • like-minded organizations
  • support from the staff (including new staff to be hired)
  • Staff and office providing logistical support
  • successful recruitment of talented people that share our values
  • strong brand
  • strong relationship with partners
  • stable relationships internationally
  • policy environment broadly favourable (to open content etc)

How to fix these problems[edit | edit source]

We then used stickers to 'vote' on the most important problems or important strengths. Everyone was given seven stickers. Not all trustees voted. We then split into teams and worked through how we could fix these problems (or capitalise on the strengths), focussing on the most voted for ones. A table[1] of the ideas follows:

Strength Number of votes Rank (in bold if chosen)
Financial abundance & the ability to spend 13 1
Goodwill 8 3
Good staff 6 6
Strong brand 8 3
Favourable policy environment 3 9
80ish active volunteers 9 2
History of success 5 7
Support from staff 2 10
Expanding staff 4 8
Partnerships 8 3
Extending our network of contacts 2 10
Better board meetings 2 10
Weakness Number of votes Rank (in bold if chosen)
Not enough volunteers 13 1
Not recruiting quickly enough 5 6
Opaque & inconsistent reporting 5 6
Lack of strategic scalability 6 5
Lack of staff capacity 7 2
Not reporting against targets 0 18
Lack of board stability 2 15
Unclear boundaries between staff and volunteers 3 11
Poor communications with the community 2 15
Budget holders have too many budgets, causing a bottleneck 3 11
Lack of process 3 11
Lack of people in the right Geographic areas 5 6
Don't know how to share good experiences with partners 5 6
Can't find anything on our wikis 3 11
Lack of conversion between online and offline volunteers 2 15
Community members who can't be paid (don't have recruitment process) 5 6
"We're scared" 7 2
Hours in the day 7 2

85 volunteers vs Not enough volunteers[edit | edit source]

WMUK strategy discussion 8 Sept 2012 sheet 2.jpg
  • Survey/talk to them them - ask what their expectations are, what they would like to do for us.
  • Train the trainers, cascade recruitment
  • What do they want to do with £1k/£10k?
  • Assistance writing proposals
  • Recruit new volunteers from partner organisations, "one step removed"
  • Advertise/good media coverage
  • Outreach events
  • Meetups
  • Engage online volunteers more (talk pages, geonotices)
  • Shop (discounts for members?)
  • Membership reward/joining pack

There was a fair amount of discussion about how we can manage a budget of this size and complexity. We don't have enough 'thought leaders' to do this - it's not just an issue of money. We will probably need to hire volunteer "thought leaders"! There was lots of discussion about changing government policy - is this worth a £5k budget line, perhaps? Roger thinks we need to talk about the top two or three ideas that came out of today, and see if they're in the plan!

These ideas were:

  • Increasing volunteer grants. Travel grants were suggested to go up from 15k to 25k. Fae suggested up to £40k in 'program and project grants'. Possibly hiring someone to manage the projects and come up with objectives, outcomes, 'kill points' (Fae's term) etc - a project manager for six months to a year, including helping people write proposals. Fae suggests, based on his professional experience, a six month post to set up a proper project and grant management process. Possibly, in future, we would hire a full time permanent project manager.
  • Helping volunteers more. We'll therefore be hiring a volunteer developmernt and support person. Already decided. Job description to be written in next few months.
  • "short term projects", eg hiring John Cummings. Has to be done openly if the idea is ours: but can also be done if someone approaches us with a project.
  • WMUK landing page. Fae very against this idea because of the use of 'Wikipedia' next to 'Wikimedia UK'. Chris thinks this is a result of needing to improve the usability of our website. We'll start a discussion about this on wiki.
  • 87 volunteers: Stevie will set up a blank page to discuss what questions we should ask in a volunteer survey.

Joining pack: We are now moving towards getting as many members as we can, even if they are not as active. Previously, we only wanted members if they were going to be active and involved. Part of this is getting a joining pack, with leaflets - how to run an editathon, how to start a wikipedia town - how to edit, even.

DECISION 6.8: The board have decided that we should be getting as many members as we can, even if they are not as active.
ACTION 6.1: SB will set up a blank page so that the community can discuss what questions we should ask if we were to do a general volunteer survey.
ACTION 6.2: KB (& others?) to work on a joining pack for new members.

Good Will vs lack of staff capacity[edit | edit source]

WMUK strategy discussion 8 Sept 2012 sheet 13.jpg
Good will
  • We'll repurpose the fundraiser to gain editors and tell people about what we're doing, not just generate funds.
  • We'll ask every GLAM to give one article to the project (COI taken into account)
  • Wiki Prizes (Core Contest)
  • Run Funding <unintelligible>
  • Geovation-like contests
Staff capacity
  • Hire people for short term projects
    • Why? Doing things properly.
  • Lack of understanding
  • Another office

Money[edit | edit source]

WMUK strategy discussion 8 Sept 2012 sheet 11.jpg
  • Spend money wisely and productively!
  • Empower and support volunteers with:
Travel grants
Project grants
Assess the outcomes
Clear process for project grants
  • Grants to other open knowledge buddies
  • Staff
Admin support? Project Manager?
Fill our skill gaps

'Free parking' - other ideas[edit | edit source]

WMUK strategy discussion 8 Sept 2012 sheet 4.jpg

There were a few other ideas:

  1. How do we make civility supportiveness mainstream?
  2. Ombudsman?
  3. Regional offices - population of Scotland/Wales compared to West Midlands

References[edit | edit source]