[Foundation-l] Board restructuring and community

Alison Wheeler wikimedia at alisonwheeler.com
Tue Apr 29 23:15:05 UTC 2008

On Tue, April 29, 2008 12:43, Ilario Valdelli wrote:
> Personally I think that 4 experts is a big number for the board.
> Experts are consultants not board members!!!
> Probably 2 experts is a number sufficient to cover particular skills
> but the board it's the *unique* link between the communities and the
> management, IMHO this new configuration it's a suicide of the board.
> Surely the 2 chapters members in the board must replace the experts
> seats and not the community's seats.

Taking my Chapter hat off for a moment, most Boards or organisations - be
they major or minor, profit-seeking or charitable - will choose to have
50% (or more) of their board as non-executives (ie external) who bring
useful skills, expertise and contacts to the table.

The WMF of recent history has, I would suggest without intending any
disrespect, been dire in this respect as it has elected people who had
little or no relevant skills in the general or strategic management of a
world-wide organisation, and some of the past actions / decisions of the
Board have suffered because of that.

Consultants may be experts in some things, but they are never experts in
how *your* organisation works, just on organisations in general (I myself
worked in business consultancy for many years and I would never profess to
fully understand the 'internals' of any company in detail - my skill was
in understanding what questions needed to be asked and what to make of the

Whether we like it or now, Wikimedia needs a controlling body, and that
body is the Wikimedia Foundation. The Wikimedia projects are way too big
and important to have that body be a spare-time bedroom activity and the
members of the Board should *all* have relevant expertise (so far as I am
concerned) if we want to see the projects continue their stellar growth
rate in the future.

Yes, of course I want to see experienced editors and wikimedians on the
Board, but that shouldn't (again imho) mean that someone without at least
some skills should be there.

(And no, I knew nothing about this beforehand, and yes, I did query some
aspects when I did)

Alison Wheeler

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