[Foundation-l] More on Wikimedia strategic planning

Stu West stuwest at gmail.com
Fri May 1 19:45:00 UTC 2009

As someone who is relatively new to the Foundation's Board (just
over a year now) and has been through this kind of strategic
planning exercise a few times, I thought I'd share some thoughts:

- There seems to be more agreement on a high-level vision ("every
single human being can freely share in the sum of all human
knowledge") in our community than in anything I've been a part
of. And we're actually doing it -- last month one estimate had us
bringing knowledge to over 325 million people around the world.
That's not yet every single human being but wow, what a great
- Despite that apparent high-level unity, it is very difficult to
translate such a sweeping vision into a set of near-term
- As we've grown and succeeded, we've attracted more donors
(something like 135,000 in the last fundraiser) so now have
greater financial resources to make investments and support the
- There are many things we could focus on: usability, quality,
outreach in countries without chapters, language issues,
technology scalability, performance, data center expansion,
access for those with limited/no connectivity,
legal/trademark/copyright protections, etc.
- We can't do them all at the same time -- even with all our
success we have limited money and volunteer energy.  A strategic
plan can help provide focus and prioritization.
- The approach the Board and Sue have laid out -- widespread
involvement from our entire community -- is unprecedented. Many
organizations do strategic planning, but typically with a few
dozen people. We are going to do it with thousands.  That's just
the way we do things.  It will be harder and messier and take
more time, but we're used to that.  I also think it will as a
result have a bigger impact.
- I know our final answer won't match my personal priorities
exactly, and as volunteers of course we can and will all still
focus on our own passions.  But the more we work together to
agree on priorities, the more we can do as a community.

Finally, I want to say I'm incredibly excited about this process.
I'm confident the same energy and cooperation that creates a
great article will also create a great strategic plan, and that
we as a community have an amazing opportunity here to come
together and set some direction for how over the next few years
we can best pursue our vision.

stu <at> Wikimedia.org

-----Original Message-----
From: foundation-l-bounces at lists.wikimedia.org
[mailto:foundation-l-bounces at lists.wikimedia.org] On Behalf Of
Michael Snow
Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 10:47 PM
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List
Subject: [Foundation-l] More on Wikimedia strategic planning

To follow up on the board's resolution, here is some more
about the strategy development process we are starting. This is
necessarily the complete picture, that hasn't been fully laid out
and you will hear more about it in coming weeks and months. We
share progress as we go, and discussion is welcome. I expect the
members of the Board of Trustees, along with Sue, will be happy
to join 
in. We spoke briefly about the project at our meeting with the
representatives in Berlin a few weeks ago. They may be able to
answer basic questions, and I also anticipate that the chapters
will be 
a good way to relay ideas from the wider community.

This is a rather unusual endeavor, as it is intended to be the
first completely open and collaborative strategy development
project. We 
aim to draw upon the experiences and knowledge of a wide range of

contributors: Wikimedia volunteers, experts in various fields,
board, the foundation's staff, and other appropriate advisors
that may 
be suggested to us. I'm excited about the possibilities in this

Anybody who wants to help the Wikimedia projects is invited to 
participate. I expect that the primary activity will involve
groups developing pieces of the strategy on-wiki. That's both
it's the key tool for open collaboration we're all familiar with,
because it would be prohibitive in time or expense to coordinate 
strategic planning through a set of meetings, as might happen in
normal organization. All relevant planning outputs will be
available for review, as well as reuse, so hopefully we can
produce some 
thinking that other groups will also find useful.

We expect the strategic planning project to officially launch in
although this is a preliminary kickoff of sorts as well. In the 
meantime, Sue is planning to hire a project manager, a research
and a facilitator to support it. Those jobs will be posted on the

Wikimedia Foundation site sometime during the next week. Between
now and 
the launch, Sue will be hiring the project team. These positions
bring skills we already need, and while we want all the staff to
input, this will be the group designated to work particularly on

Sue and I will also be working through the structure and
framework of 
the project: essentially, which strategic questions require the
focus. You will hear more about this, and I will be asking for
views, as we begin to make progress.

--Michael Snow

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