Learning patterns/Build trust to know what sort of challenges are coming up for the partner organisation
What problem does this solve?Edit
Timing is a crucial aspect affecting the long term success of the residency. In some cases it meant that the project coincided positively with the time of significant changes around openness at the institution:
York Museums Trust (YMT) and Wikimedia UK started collaborating on the WIR project at a time when YMT was deciding on what open licensing might mean for the organisation. In that context, WIR showed what could be possible (e.g. in terms of audience reach) if the organisation becomes very open. The timing meant that the advocacy work was incredibly important and impactful.
-- Martin Fell (Digital Team Leader, York Museums Trust, WIR’s line manager), impact interview June 2017
On the other hand, changes within the institution shortly after the WIR project ends may mean that staff previously involved with the residency are moved to different projects, organisation’s focus is changing or narrowing. General disruption can mean that any projects seen as luxuries and add-ons (as Wikimedia work can often be perceived) are dropped.
The WIR project can also coincide with external conversations and changes within the host organisation’s sector - this can be a facilitator or a barrier, but looking back it did help several of our projects:
The Museum has also radically changed its approach to licensing - this was a part of a bigger change happening around a new digital strategy. This move towards openness would have happened anyway regardless of the residency, it coincided with organisations in the sector were opening themselves up to this sort of a programme, thinking of widening access.
-- Jessica Bradford (Collection Engagement Project Manager, Science Museum, involved in the WIR project), impact interview June 2017
It can be hard to predict what would happen within an institution during or after the project, and what impact that may have (e.g. we worked with several institutions during their restructure, and in some cases those were enablers of change). Horizon scanning the sector certainly comes as useful in this case, just like building trust and transparency with a partner institution at the set up stage, so that we can exchange any intelligence about upcoming changes (such as restructuring or new strategic direction).
What is the solution?Edit
Be very conscious of the importance of timing and have open discussions about timings with your partner organisations before and during the project.
Things to considerEdit
With longer projects like Wikimedians in Residence, if you feel the project could go on for longer then start discussing possible project extensions early on. At Wikimedia UK we have missed the boat in the past waiting till the last months of the Residency for this, but now realise that such discussions take a lot of time and should be started as soon as the project is showing potential.
When to useEdit
Setting up a partnership, especially an in-depth one such as a Wikimedian in Residence.