Strategy consultation

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The board would like to thank the community for their feedback on the strategy documents. On the 8th of March the board met and, following a vote, has now formally adopted the strategy set out in the documents linked to the right.

Wiki.png Strategy
Strategy

Operational

The purpose of the strategy

The purpose of our Strategy is to guide us in the activities and programmes we undertake to achieve our Mission to help people and organisations create and preserve Open Knowledge, and to help provide easy access for all. The plan sets out our high-level Strategic Goals, and the type of impact we aim to achieve with each of those goals (the Aims). This allows us to ensure that our actual range of activities and programmes is directly aligned with our Strategic Goals.

Each Strategic Goal has an associated series of Outcomes which define the specific types of impact that we will be tracking for that Goal. These Outcomes are not measurements in themselves, but rather the 'scales of measurement' against which we can apply specific measures or targets.

To achieve our plan, we will undertake activities and programmes that maximize progress on each of the stated Outcomes, and we will report progress separately against each Outcome. To ensure balance, each of the Outcomes is expected to be covered within each financial year, but of course the relative priorities and extent of progress on each will vary over the course of the year.

The Strategic Plan deliberately does not require the charity as a matter of policy to work on any specific programme, as we want the flexibility to be able to start promising new programmes and to expand existing ones as opportunities arise. Likewise, we need the freedom to close down or reduce the scope of failing programmes or those that are not generating sufficient impact. This flexibility will allow us to be not only ambitious but also innovative in the type of programmes that we take on, without fearing that we will be obliged to continue with a programme that turns out not to perform as intended.

The Strategy is intended to be a long-term document. It will be reviewed at least annually, and can be amended should the need arise, although we do not anticipate the strategy or the goals within it changing before it is reviewed in 5 years. However the board would not rule this out should there be major changes in the context of the charity.

Sitting under the high-level strategy are measures and annual targets. We expect that both the targets themselves, and potentially the ways we measure them, to change over the course of the plan. Any changes in measures will be aligned with the strategic goals as they stand. Although the annual targets will change, the measures are cumulative and will build impact over time. This allows us to report cumulative figures of 'distance travelled' in spite of the fact that the year-by-year targets may change.

The consultation process

As part of this consultation process we reached out to our own WMUK community, to the Wikimedia community at large, to all other chapters, to the Wikimedia Foundation, and to interested individuals. Feedback received was taken into account along with staff and board contributions in finalising this plan. Much of this feedback can be found on the respective talk pages on Wiki, and we have sought to reply to points as they were raised. We are providing a summary of this feedback below, with responses and details of actions taken to address feedback.

We are confident that as the end result of this process we have a robust strategy that will serve us well in the years to come. It will enable us to maintain and track challenging but achievable targets while retaining operational flexibility to focus our day-to-day efforts on whichever individual activities and initiatives will best help us achieve practical impact.

We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the process, and we look forward to continuing to work with the community with renewed focus and vigour.

Summary of feedback received

The Definition of ‘open’ and ‘free’

Feedback: Some concerns were raised regarding the definition of ‘open’ used in the proposed strategy documents.

Response: Based on feedback received, we have decided that for simplicity we should stick with the definitions we already have in the charity's objects, and withdraw the idea of linking to the 'Open Definition'. Should there be any need to change in the future we would have a separate consultation, particularly as any change to the objects would require a formal vote of the membership. However, as the current definitions still seem good we have decided to transclude them into the strategy. We have separated the definitions out onto a distinct page for this purpose, and would encourage linking to, and transcluding of, that page where ‘Open Knowledge’ or ‘Open Content’ is referred to across the Wiki.

ACTION:

  1. The definition of 'Open Knowledge' has been given in relation to our Articles of Association across all strategy documentsYes check.svg Done
  2. Occurrences of ‘open content’ across the goals, etc. have been replaced with ‘open knowledge’. Yes check.svg Done
  3. The definition of Open Content in M3 of the Articles of Association has been placed on a separate page to be linked to or transcluded across the Wiki. Yes check.svg Done

Consultation process

Feedback: A number of people inquired about the nature of the consultation process, and writing of the proposed strategy documents.

Response: The consultation process has been an extremely long running one, with multiple approaches used over a number of years. The strategy documents themselves describe the documents we have used in developing this strategy, including documents that have been written by, and commented on by, the community. The broad community – including the Wikimedia community, the WMUK staff, and the FDC – expressed a clear wish for the board to develop an agreed strategy. In order to develop this strategy, the ‘big picture’ view was needed, to ensure that operational and strategic needs were met effectively, and that we could reasonably ask all stakeholders to engage with the documents. The board did not consider that continued piecemeal development was appropriate, given: a) the impracticality - based on the charity's past experiences - of hoping that our non-board volunteer community would be able to commit the very substantial time and intellectual effort required to write a rigorous and robust strategy entirely from the ground up on our behalf; b) the existence of other draft strategy documents, from which we could draw; c) the need to maximise the effectiveness of the feedback process to reduce duplication of efforts and ensure that the appropriate frame was given to the scope of the feedback; and d) the urgent need to agree and vote on a strategy.

Perception of WMUK as an organisation

Feedback: Some queries were raised about goals that relate to our organisational reputation, or to perceptions of WMUK as an organisation. There was some discussion for example about the relevance of G1.3 "We are perceived as the go-to organisation by UK GLAM, educational, and other organisations who need support or advice for the development of Open Content".

Response: Some of our goals quite deliberately focus on our reputation because the charitable impact that we are able to achieve is directly related to that reputation. Simply put, if we develop a high reputation we can do more and better work; a poor reputation drives organisations and individuals away and damages our impact. The board considers that trackable reputational goals are key to our potential impact and that they should remain an essential part of our overall strategy.

ACTION:

  1. See above re: rationale. One amendment was made to G2b.2 which had appended: “and are recognised for such within the Wikimedia movement and the UK charity sector.” Yes check.svg Done

'Development' rather than 'release' of knowledge

Feedback: A concern was raised that G1.3 could be read as focussing on the release of existing content, rather than the relationships we build with knowledge creators in the development of open knowledge.

ACTION:

  1. We have changed G1.3 to refer to the “development of open knowledge” rather than the “release of open knowledge” Yes check.svg Done

The possibility of using ‘efficiency’ as a KPI

Feedback: A suggestion was made that ‘efficiency’ should be a KPI.

Response: The standard charitable performance ratio, defined by the Charity Commission in the Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP), will be reported in the annual trustee report. This allows direct comparison between the efficiency of WMUK and other charities, and is an interesting figure although we do not consider it a strategic KPI. The board considers it more important to retain a focus on demonstrating impact and effectiveness rather an introducing an explicit efficiency target. The latter could encourage an emphasis on reducing expenditure rather than on maximising impact based on the funds we have available.

Interest in Wikimedia community v. WMUK community

Feedback: A number of comments referred to a distinction between WMUK and Wikimedia communities, sometimes querying whether we should distinguish, and in other places querying the place of WMUK-volunteers and WMUK-members.

Response: We are a charity devoted to the development of Open knowledge, for which community is key. Our own WMUK community is the group with which we have the most direct relationship, and our activities (‘inputs’) with that group are targeted at our charitable impact, as reflected in G2. That is not to exclude other organisations and groups, and indeed they are referred to within G5. Two important points of feedback have been taken on board: 1) that the strategy did not leave space to deal with non-technical, non-Wikimedia communities that we engage with (e.g. the Open Knowledge Foundation); 2) that the measurements and targets did not include any indicators relating to UK-based non-WMUK groups.

ACTION:

  1. We have rationalised goals around other communities by moving 4.1 to 5.4 and remove “technical communities” to replace with “open knowledge communities” more broadly. Yes check.svg Done
  2. Goal ‘5’ has been amended to reflect the broader focus with the amendment in the overall goal reading: “other Wikimedia, and Open Knowledge, communities”. The goal description has been amended to reflect this. Yes check.svg Done
  3. Enhance G5 metrics to add count of the non-WMUK Wikimedia events that are advertised through the WMUK website. Yes check.svg Done

‘Importing’ of ‘best practice’ standards

Feedback: A concern was raised regarding the adoption of ‘best’ practices, which may be seen as ‘imported’ from other organisations with little regard for our own context.

Response: While we hope that this is not seen to be the case with WMUK, we understand why some find the expression ‘best practice’ problematic, and have amended the relevant goal.

ACTION:

  1. Change G2b and G2b.1 to read: "effective and high quality" in place of “best practice” Yes check.svg Done

The meaning of 'barriers’ and ‘access’ in G3

Feedback: The nature of ‘barriers’ and ‘access’ was questioned, as was the definition of ‘Wikimedia projects’.

Response: We are construing ‘Wikimedia projects’ widely here, and take it that those projects encompass the freedoms entailed by ‘Open Knowledge’ including technical and social freedoms. We intend that the goals are written in such a way as to be broadly applicable to a range of barriers, and prefer not to list all barriers that might be addressed under this goal (a task for alignment with our activities).

ACTION:

  1. Some clarification to add ‘digital literacy’, and amend ‘accessibility’ to ‘access’ to indicate both accessibility, and physical access barriers Yes check.svg Done
  2. Inclusion of ‘soft’ barriers in reduction of barriers to accessing open content. Add “poor information literacy” to G3 Yes check.svg Done

The definition of volunteers and activity units

Feedback: A number of questions were asked regarding how we define: Volunteers; the activity of volunteers; ‘WMUK activities’ and those held in conjunction with others; and engagement with those activities. Questions were also raised regarding the counting of staff and trustee time towards our activity units. Some related queries were also asked regarding the role of volunteers, staff, and trustees in the organisation.

Response: We are grateful for the many comments in this area, and we agree that further clarification would be helpful.

We will be tracking and reporting separately on both the extent of volunteer activity and also on the number of individuals who engage with us on a voluntary basis.

To measure the extent of volunteer activity we will be tracking ‘activity units’, where one unit essentially means one person attending or engaging with one event. We will also be tracking 'leading activity' units which counts the work done by the organisers and leaders. People attending a WMUK event will be included in the activity count for that event whether or not they are considered as WMUK volunteers.

Individual volunteers will be tracked on a database. We have amended our definition of WMUK volunteer so that we now count only those who have provided us with contact details, including at least an email address (so that we can record them as a unique individual) and who have contributed at least one activity unit during the preceding 12 months. We will also be tracking as 'leading volunteers' those who have contributed at least one leading activity unit over the preceding 12 months.

While we think it is important to keep track of trustee commitments, these will not be counted as part of our activity units for two reasons. Firstly, because it would skew totals particularly around board meetings and specific major activities including the writing of this strategy. And secondly, because trustee time may not always be a positive indicator of charitable impact (for example board time spent on operational rather than on strategic issues).

Finally, a clarification has been added (as below) to the strategy to indicate that where ‘WMUK’ is referred to, we intend to refer to the legal entity – Wikimedia UK – and that it is the charitable impact of that entity that this strategy is targeted at.

Actions:

  1. Alteration to indicate that the activity of attending one of our events is counted in our ‘activity units’. Activity units is any engagement with activities that we are running. Yes check.svg Done
  2. Volunteers are those who offer an identifier such that we can track them into the future (using CiviCRM) and keep a record of number of volunteers in any given time period Yes check.svg Done
  3. We have clarified “in conjunction with” Yes check.svg Done
  4. We have clarified when staff are counted as volunteers Yes check.svg Done
  5. Clarification regarding trustee activity units added Yes check.svg Done
  6. Clarification added on “in a non-leading capacity” Yes check.svg Done
  7. Alter the targets page to reflect above changes Yes check.svg Done
  8. Role descriptions will be added to the ‘People’ page on the Wiki Symbol wait.svg Doing...
  9. It has been clarified that reference to 'WMUK' in the strategy means the legal entity. While community is key to that entity, WMUK has a legal status and obligations, and it is to these that this strategy directly refers. Yes check.svg Done

Volunteers are skilled and capable

Feedback: A clarification was requested regarding the activity metric for ‘volunteers are skilled and capable’ which was unclear with respect to which group’s skill was being tracked, the trainers or trainees. A query was also raised regarding a more in depth analysis of the skills of those we train, and the potential for cohort analysis – this was particularly with reference to self-report feedback forms.

Response: We will continue to look for improved measures in this area. Feedback is of course a key part of our activity evaluation but at this stage does not contribute to measurement of our charitable impact. We are keen to evaluate our programs, and develop metrics around this including for cohorts. However, at this stage we intend to make use of the tools available for evaluation of our activities, and note that we are breaking out cohorts under G2a.2 and 5.2 regarding contributor diversity.

ACTION:

  1. We have now clarified this measure to provide an indicator both for activity engagement of leading volunteers and for those volunteers being trained. That is, we take it that training is itself an indicator that our community is skilled and capable, and that attendance at such events as a trainee is also an indicator of impact in this area. Yes check.svg Done

Specific queries on indicators/metrics

Feedback: Requests for clarification, or suggestions for improvement, were given in respect of the following:

  1. G1: Could ‘positive edit size’ be improved on?
  2. Suggestion that "Percentage of WMUK-related files (e.g. images) in mainspace use on a Wikimedia project (excluding Commons)" would be better given as an absolute number than a percentage.
  3. Is ‘institution reputation rating’ an external standard?
  4. What level of detail will we obtain from the QRpedia codes, and could we do something more here?
  5. Should we count the number of events we run (or support)?

Responses:

  1. Yes. We will continue to explore developments in the area of measuring improvements in quantity and quality of open knowledge, and we expect to be actively considering the development of automated tools to that end.
  2. We note that G1 pertains to increases in size/number – an absolute count of edit size and files uploaded. In contrast, G2 pertains to quality, and as such is given as a percentage of the absolute number of files uploaded (the G1 indicator). Given we're providing both absolute (total) figures and the percentage used in mainspace working out the absolute figure wouldn't be hard.
  3. Because we're ranking reputations across multiple types of organisation, both in the UK and outside, we cannot use a single external standard but insofar as possible we are indeed referring to externally-published ranking tables. However, we will not be publishing information that will allow identification of scores for individual partner organizations. That could easily alienate some of our partners or drag the charity into time-consuming and ultimately fruitless arguments about why we have given GLAM organization X a score of, say, 6 rather than 7.
  4. We are open to suggestions regarding the use of QRpedia codes scanned. However, we do not think counting the ‘existence’ of those codes will give us any additional information (because it does not necessarily indicate the codes are used), and note that any additional metrics should be proportionate with respect to the additional effort/information they provide.
  5. In the case of G5, we track expenditure on scholarships, as this seems to us to offer more information than a simple count of the number of initiatives supported. We have decided not to use a raw count of events (or activities) as an indicator. Events form one of our inputs, and we do not wish to be in a situation in which events are counted as outputs as that would create an incentive for the charity to run many small events which may not be impactful. Instead we're counting 'activity units' as a better indicator of our impact.