In all areas and branches, strategy is an important aspect to be taken into consideration for the continuity and sustainability of an organization. The Wikimedia movement is not an exception, and the 2030 Strategy process is aimed at this goal. However, our movement has still its unique elements in comparison with other structures. One important particularity is its geographical spreading across the globe, and through various cultures and contexts.
In order to gather perspectives and feedback about Strategy from as many regions as possible, the concept of a Strategy Salon was introduced by the Core Team. A Strategy Salon is a face-to-face gathering organized by Wikimedia affiliates, in order to engage around strategy matters.
In Morocco, our User Group wanted to seize the opportunity and make our voice heard. It was in fact a unique occasion for us to present our local challenges and problems, and how we believe that the Working Groups should tackle them and make sure that their recommendations would take them into consideration. Motivated by this opportunity, we applied to host a salon, and got approved few days later.
The real work started by then: What should we talk about? Whom to invite? Who does the logistics?
Being a relatively small group, we did not have much experience in organizing events besides small edit-a-thons and online contests. Hosting a strategy salon was a challenge that came on time, given its moderate size, and our will to grow the group and involve members in the activities. Having the event funded by the Core Team was excellent news, especially to be able to secure the participants of contributors from far cities such as Oujda or Agadir. In fact, the geographical localization of our members has always made it difficult to host a face-to-face meeting for the User Group, except for those living at the Northwestern part (between Tangier and Casablanca), where transportation is simpler and less challenging.
Organizing a Strategy Salon in Morocco was not only an opportunity to discuss the future of Wikimedia movement, but also to hear from the local community about their expectations and suggestions on how we – as the Moroccan User Group – could act within the global movement. Overall, the event, which brought up people from different linguistic and geographical backgrounds, was constructive, especially with the presence of Anass, who’s part of the Advocacy Working Group and the Strategy Liaison for the Arabic language, who gave an inside look on the strategy work and how we can act with the means at our disposal.
— Reda Benkhadra – President of Wikimedia Morocco User Group
Given logistical constraints, we agreed to have our salon at the city of Mohammedia (between Rabat and Casablanca) and purchased train and plane tickets for participants, as well as booked accommodation for a number of them. As volunteers, and on the contrary of bigger chapters in other parts of the world, this was already a big step for our group, as well as a learning for us, not on technical sides of the encyclopedia, but rather on managing logistics of an event.
Once all arrangements made and the participants settled, time was now for strategy discussions. Moroccan contributors discussed for a whole day on Advocacy and Capacity Building challenges, as well as their suggestions on how to go forward. An interesting aspect in our salon was the necessity to explain the background of the current structures, and answer questions such as: What is Wikimedia Foundation? What does a User Group do? Why do we have a User Group in Morocco? As community leaders, this opened our eyes on the gap between “Wikipedia” and “Wikimedia”, or in other words, between online and offline work, not only in Morocco, but in many other regions. A positive consequence of this discussion was then that members’ knowledge about these structures increased, as well as their interest and motivation to work and volunteer more in collaboration with them.
Understanding our structures and values was also a necessary prerequisite before giving feedback about strategy. As you know, designing the future implies good knowledge of the present and past. We believe that this opportunity was great for our members to foster their knowledge about the movement, as well as to make their voice heard. It was definitely more than a strategic discussion!
In summary, the Strategy Salon experience was for us an incredibly enriching and useful experience from many aspects; first, it allowed us to come together as a group and strengthen our ties, second, it triggered reflection around our strategic interests as a community, and third, allowed members to understand the process better and give feedback. Finally, the strategy salon was a unique occasion to sharpen our organizational skills ahead of the WikiArabia 2019 conference that we hosted in October in Marrakesh. All in all, it was a great event, and we are very happy and proud to have hosted it!
If you are interested in knowing more about the strategic outcome of our Salon, you are very welcome to read our Moroccan Strategy Salon report, or reach out to us directly at the different channels that we are using.