Movement Strategy Playbook – Creating a Manual for Global Collaboration

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In May 2020, the movement strategy recommendations were published, outlining a guide for change that will enable us to move forward in our strategic direction of becoming the essential infrastructure of the free knowledge ecosystem.

The recommendations were the result of over two years of collaboration across the Wikimedia movement. I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on how the recommendations were created and, importantly, what lessons were learned along the way that might be useful for others in the movement, particularly as we move toward implementing the recommendations. In that spirit, I am delighted to present “The Movement Strategy Playbook”, a comprehensive document that contains insights into the key practices and lessons learned from this global open strategy.

What is the Movement Strategy Playbook?

In essence, the Movement Strategy Playbook highlights key insights and experiences of Wikimedians who participated in movement strategy between July 2018 and June 2020. During this period, working groups developed the movement strategy recommendations and principles, with input from community members, from affiliates, and the Wikimedia Foundation. This process was supported by a core team, which I led. This team was made up of people from within and outside of the broader Wikimedia movement, featuring a mix of people who worked for the Wikimedia Foundation or for Wikimedia Deutschland.

In mid 2020, an external contractor, Matt Thompson, held discussions and interviews with more than 100 people who had participated in this part of the movement strategy process. Some of the areas that were looked at included process design; community and volunteer engagement; communications; and knowledge management.

The insights and input yielded were then synthesized into 21 key lessons about the work that was done. These lessons fall within four categories: Planning, Collaboration, Communication, Participation.

Some key findings

  • Open, participative strategy processes take time. 
  • Change happens at the speed of trust. It costs extra energy to change the status quo, so the space to create the change needs to be co-owned and co-designed with movement actors to build trust.
  • The process is equally important as the product. 
  • Nothing about us without us! Involve the people that are affected by the decisions and changes.
  • Global collaboration can present a number of barriers when it comes to participation. Additional planning and resources are needed to support active engagement from everyone.
  • Iterative approaches allow the process to be adapted as needed, while clear communication about changes to the process and next steps is vital.
First convening of Working Group members at Wikimania in Cape Town 2018.

Sharing knowledge within and beyond the movement

This level of global collaboration is a first for the Wikimedia Movement. And this type of organisational open strategy process – global, transparent, iterative, inclusive – is unique, which is why we wanted to capture these insights in this Playbook. So we also took a little inspiration from the recommendation “Manage Internal Knowledge” and decided to document the process. The Playbook details the highs and lows of the process, what worked well, the mistakes that were made, and the challenges and frustrations that arose during the process. It can be a resource for anyone in our ecosystem, like affiliate, WMF, or community organizers, planners, partners, friends and allies, and any Wikimedian who may be interested in how global collaboration has been done in the movement. 

My sincere hope is that this will set a benchmark for collaboration in our movement, both in terms of how this kind of collaboration can be done and also what to be mindful of.

File:Wikimedia 2030 Movement Participation Timeline.png
How we applied inclusion and transparency to our open strategy process.

One fantastic thing about the Playbook: It is not ready, and probably never will be! It is a living document with space for contributions from everyone in the movement. On each lesson’s page, you can add your suggestions for tools or ideas that could help make the insights even more actionable. The playbook will continue to evolve and grow, and will become even better with every participatory and inclusive process that we as a movement complete. 

If you want to learn more about exactly how all of this was done, I encourage you to also read this outstanding overview, which was put together by the movement strategy core team and chronologically outlines each step that was taken to create the recommendations. Important to note is that, unlike the Playbook, this summary has been written solely from the perspective of the team and reflects what we learned administering and supporting a global process such as this.

I’d like to say a huge heartfelt thank you to everyone who took part in this process: all the working group members, the community members as well as affiliates and the Wikimedia Foundation who provided input and helped shape the recommendations, and to my wonderful colleagues in the movement strategy core team. It’s been such an exciting, eventful, exhausting and overly rewarding experience for me to navigate through this endeavour with you all. 

And now: Happy reading!

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