Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Recommendations/Iteration 3/Principles

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Principles
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Principles are the fundamental beliefs that guide our work across the Movement, and upon which all the Recommendations are built. As such, these shared principles are our guiding statements of purpose, and together speak to what it means to be a Wikimedian. These principles are integrally and holistically connected and are not presented in any implied order of importance.

Self-management & participatory decision-making

Decision-making in the Movement produces the best results from an inclusive, distributed peer process built upon mutual trust and accountability.

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Some organizations operating at large scale and in adaptive, complex environments have found that the key to doing this efficiently is to implement a system based on self-management, distributed leadership, and peer relationships, with little or no need for hierarchy.[1] Key to this approach is the underlying assumption that involving people with practices based on trust and mutual accountability will result in returned trust and responsible behavior: give people responsibility, and they will act responsibly. Power in these organizations is not a zero-sum game, but by design a shared resource — everyone is powerful and no one is powerless. The model of many traditional organizations is not based on trust but on fear — a fear, which is built into structures and practices that create and require hierarchy and power imbalances to create control. Resignation and resentment among those without power is more often than not a direct result of this approach and a common issue in many organizations, including parts of the current Wikimedia Movement.

The way our communities in Wikimedia projects have self-organized over the years should reinforce us in the basic belief about human nature, that trust breeds trust, and enable us to expand and foster this culture for all parts of our Movement. Therefore, we, as a Movement need to co-create an interlocking set of structures and practices tailored to specific cultural and local requirements, which enable us to translate this basic assumption of human nature into all our daily proceedings.[2]

Participatory decision-making in all relevant areas.[3] The right decision-making process is key for driving equity. To achieve knowledge equity, we need to design an equitable decision-making process[4]. Participatory decision-making and self-determination can balance power more equitably in the Movement and diversify leadership.

However, without addressing privileges and barriers to participation, we will not be able to drive real change.[5] Mere access to participate in decision-making does not ensure equity, so a deliberate attempt must be made to ensure all voices have a clear role in our decision-making processes in order to realize our mission. Equity in this sense is about opportunities (e.g., access to systems, languages, and resources), power (e.g., ability to make decisions, ability to change culture), supporting capacity to participate, and actual outcomes.

Subsidiarity

Decisions must be taken at the most immediate or local level wherever possible to apply a context for decision-making.

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Subsidiarity is a model of sharing authority, tasks, and responsibilities between various segments of our Movement in a way that maximizes the impact and practice of our values: collaboration, sharing, and autonomy of knowledge. Subsidiary decentralization is based on the notion that our communities across the world are capable of identifying their capacities, opportunities, needs, and barriers to representing the sum of human knowledge in their local context, and that they should exercise self-determination in decision-making about their resources, activities, and their future, as well as those decisions that result in providing for their needs and overcoming obstacles.[6] Our communities have the right to access support that is tailored to their needs, and that does not replace their efforts but strengthens them, and leaves the community better equipped to operate in the future.

We must weigh when it is feasible for decisions to be made at the lowest level. For example, when standardization is important, and each group going in their own direction would be unmanageable, the decision needs to happen in a global, coordinated fashion; when the cost or risk of the decision (such as legal liability, staffing) would fall on another entity, the decision should be driven by that entity. When direct action would endanger community members, some other entity should act on their behalf.

Equity & empowerment

All stakeholders must be empowered to engage in the Wikimedia Movement to support the fundamental notion of equity.

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An open culture can lead to the inclusiveness of everyone who wants to participate. The merits of any truly open Movement are based upon a constantly evolving process of empowerment[7] that promotes treating people fairly based upon their circumstances, resolving capability deprivation (technical, administrative, linguistic, financial, etc.) to meet their utmost realized potential. Equal opportunity and access are not the same as equitable knowledge representation and access.[8] A policy that applies equally to everyone may be inequitable if it unfairly affects one group more than another. Equality requires providing the same thing to all; whereas, equity requires providing a level playing field.

Inclusive community development

The development of processes, practices, and structures for the Wikimedia Movement must be based upon inclusivity and diversity of perspectives and identities.[9]

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There are gaps in our representation of knowledge when content in some contexts is disproportionately over-represented, in others underrepresented, and even in others completely absent. This means that our projects suffer from systemic biases. The nature of the content and the way it is portrayed, with limited perspectives and knowledge gaps, make it difficult to claim we make the sum of all human knowledge accessible to the world. Diversity and inclusion should be central to all our practices around capturing knowledge to ensure that every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.[10]

We aim to build our infrastructure based upon intentional community development wherein we increase the accessibility,[11] usability, and dynamism of the Movement by empowering the people in it and their learning experiences. Structures to be developed must respect all knowledge systems and be adaptable to not only empower those who are currently in the Movement, but to embrace those who were previously excluded.

The organizational structure developed from these recommendations must promote accountability, collaboration, consultation, and cooperation between stakeholders through clearly defined roles and responsibilities, which promote the development of empowering networks and enhanced learning capacity. The framework for resource allocation, be those resources physical or monetary, must promote sustainability for the ecosystem, through enabling its stakeholders. This includes shaping, distributing, and receiving immaterial and material resources. Policies and procedures adapted for use in the Movement must ensure the safety and security of all participants and must be designed with a focus toward equity, which should include the use of inclusive language, embracing all participants. Minimizing barriers – such as linguistic, social, and technological challenges – must be an on-going process to encourage the participation of everyone who wants to participate in the Movement or in decision-making processes.[12]

Safety & security

The well-being, security, and safety of all participants is a prerequisite for sustaining and growing our projects and communities.

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Without a foundational development of a safe environment, it will be challenging to meet the strategic goals to become the essential support system of free knowledge and provide knowledge equity, develop partnerships, and create a diverse and inclusive environment. Participants should feel safe in both online and offline contexts, and doing so will require changes to the current culture throughout the Movement. Rather than merely advocating for a safe environment, we must invest in making our environment safe by adopting Movement policies and providing technology, resources, and infrastructures to protect the privacy of participants and to keep them secure.[13]

No stakeholder should be able to “opt-out” of providing a safe and secure environment, as failure to do so impacts the entire Movement and abridges fundamental human rights.[14] These environments will derive from clear policies, practices, codes of conduct, and systems of reporting and enforcement that are transparent and accountable.[15]

Contextualization & adaptability

Given the diversity of the Movement, our ecosystem, processes, and structures must be evaluated and adapted to each specific geographic, cultural, political, and economic situation.

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Adaptability allows us to be flexible and lead change to respond to dynamic global circumstances and internal Movement needs. Evaluating our needs and being able to change to accept an influx of new people, technological developments, and best practices are critical components to provide for the continued growth and sustainability of our Movement.[16] It ensures that we have a diverse base of stakeholders, who are supported by the current technology, best processes, and tools that are needed to participate in our Movement. For example, adaptation lets us recognize, understand and promote locally relevant and underrepresented knowledge as a valuable and integral part of the sum of human knowledge, making changes to our systems as needed to include such knowledge.

Contextualization allows us to recognize that there is not a single set of processes that are efficient and effective everywhere. As we adapt to changes, we recognize that what works in one geographical area may not apply to another because of socio-political, economic, or cultural differences. To ensure the continued growth and sustainability of our Movement, we must be aware of these differences and ensure that our ecosystem, processes, and structures are designed with the flexibility to accommodate various circumstances.[17]

Collaboration & cooperation

In order to realize our vision and strategic direction, we must build strong collaborative opportunities and environments for cooperation, both within and outside the Wikimedia Movement.

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Working with others to draw on our collective knowledge and experiences, and collaboration to improve our effectiveness and response to challenges, are guiding principles of our Movement.[18] Much of our strength and potential impact lies in developing collaborations and partnerships in the open knowledge Movement and beyond, with both internal and external stakeholders who have knowledge and resources that can help us innovate, adapt, and grow.

Cooperation between individuals and groups with shared or aligned goals allows us to reach mutually beneficial outcomes, which often have a broader impact than they would have had if people were working alone or separately.[19] We recognize that peer-to-peer knowledge exchange and training are as critical a component in our efforts to become more inclusive and diverse, as policies.[20] Collaboration is an essential component of empowering our communities. Typically it leads to better communication and information exchange, fostering an environment of cooperation, a broader base of participation, and more sustainable solutions to challenges.[21]

Transparency & openness

Ensuring everyone can clearly understand how our systems, governance, and collaborations work enables participation and responsibility to one another.

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A transparent culture enables everyone to share in the same strategic direction, builds confidence in our projects and among our participants, and promotes trust and accountability. Internally, openness leads to higher participation and productivity,[22] new forms of engagement, and creates a sense of responsibility for and among participants to take action. Externally, openness, and the degree at which the Movement is seen to be transparent impacts consumer and partner decisions, such as donations,[23] and whether the information we provide is deemed trustworthy.

Central to being transparent is the flow of information and intention, which keeps participants informed, allows and invites their participation in discussion, and provides feedback.[24] We must maintain and improve open lines of communication[25] and have clear definition of roles and responsibilities, as well as policies and procedures.[26] Although complete transparency may not be possible when safety and security are threatened, the overall direction of the Movement should be built upon transparent systems and participatory processes.

In its role as steward of the essential infrastructure of free knowledge, the Wikimedia Movement explicitly remains free from influence or commercial dependencies, e.g., editorial independence, neutrality, and freedom from advertising. No entity may unduly influence what we do, or how we do it, and we build our products so that we are responsible only to our Movement and users, not to any donor, service, or commercial goal. The platform will not be monetized for profit by any parties. By remaining independent, we minimize the potential for co-option or coercion of the content we produce. Only by continuing to operate free from commercial influence can we sustain community commitment and maintain the trust of our users and the integrity of the Movement.

Accountability

All of our actions in the Movement must be made with deliberate thought of our responsibilities to and for others.

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A system built by the collaboration of participants requires that everyone is accountable for its continued health, resiliency, and success.[27] This means that each individual shares proportional responsibility[28] for the success or failure of the actions they take (or fail to take) on behalf of our Movement.[29] It also means that organizationally there is responsibility for and to stakeholders for reaching Movement goals and strategic objectives. Providing proactive solutions to our challenges and oversight of our processes are crucial elements for us to sustain growth.[30]

To have the necessary balance between independence (agility, flexibility, local context, etc.) and accountability (stewardship, alignment, coordination, responsibility) we must move power to the local level so that in turn as capacity is raised the margins can contribute back to the Movement as a whole.[31] On a more formal level, we must have adequate resources, knowledge management, reporting requirements, and mechanisms to allow performance expectations to be evaluated, and processes adapted accordingly, given the complexities of our Movement, diverse local contexts, and with the broader aspirations of our mission, vision, and strategic direction. Oversight and accountability review ensures that our actions are aligned with our goals and values and are producing the shared results that we desire.

Distributed knowledge & expertise

The wisdom and expertise on how to grow and strengthen our Movement lies with the reciprocal exchange of knowledge by its people.

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We thrive on learning from each other and providing active mutual support. Capacity building occurs by providing people with skills, knowledge, tools, equipment, and other resources to gain competency and the ability to expand their impact and involvement. It is fostered when experts, peers, participants, and others are empowered to work together and support each other in developing and attaining goals.[32]

To reach the aspirations of our strategic direction will require the expertise of those who laid the foundations of our Movement and have participated in its growth.[33] Reaching out to new communities, sharing knowledge with a diversity of peers, driving cultural change and technological innovations, and collaborating with Movement expertise[34] will help us move to the next level of becoming sustainable and responsive.

Resilience

The processes, practices, and structures resulting from this set of recommendations must be resilient and durable.

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A resilient system is flexible, adaptable to internal and external forces, and sustainable over time. This sort of system has the capacity to recover and rebound quickly from difficulties, and to evolve in the process.[35] Resilience results from the interplay of several factors: reusability, redundancy (overlap), diversity, feedback loops for decision-making, learning through participation and the ability to dynamically reorganize quickly. Because stasis is the enemy of a resilient system, such a system cannot be described in terms of a static set of rules, but rather according to a dynamic set of principles, processes and practices.

Efficiency

Efficiency means our processes, practices, and structures must be designed so that our resources are used without waste to reach their utmost potential for impact towards the Movement vision and strategic direction.

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Efficiency is the (ideally measurable) ability to avoid wasting materials, energy, effort, money, and time in doing something or in producing a desired result. In a more general sense, it is the ability to do things well, successfully, and without waste. Efficiency in a widely distributed structure can only be reached through coordination and contextualization and needs constant evaluation to allow for relevant iteration and adaptation. It also requires weighing whether a certain amount of inefficiency is acceptable to meet Movement and strategic goals.

People-centeredness

Every aspect of our Movement centers on addressing the needs and challenges of the people who power it and whom it serves.[36]

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The Movement is powered by individuals and groups working across cultures and geographies. The people who make up our Movement are not passive recipients of systems and products which have been designed for them but instead are actively engaged in the development processes, contributions, communities, and the methods we use. Each of these stakeholders has unique needs and challenges which Movement policies, practices, and structures must address.[37]

A people-centered design must provide complete, relevant, and reliable information to participants in order to allow them to make the best decisions for themselves and their current and future communities; benefits the greatest number of individuals and communities as compared with instances where only a few individuals benefit at the expense of others; and creates greater opportunity for people to participate while collaboratively removing barriers and biases. By focusing on the benefits of our policies, practices, and structures provide to the people in the Movement, we build trust and greater sustainability for growth.

References

  1. Frédéric Laloux, Reinventing Organisations, 2014
  2. Movement Strategy 2017 - williamsworks final presentation to the Wikimedia Foundation, slide 26
  3. Features and Programs report summary, slide 13
  4. Resource Allocation RB: Design participatory decision-making for Resource Allocation
  5. Resource Allocation RC: Recognize privileges / Design for equity
  6. Roles and Responsibilities R2&3: Decentralisation and self-management
  7. AB Cycle 2 Insights summary (Phase 1): “Active, empowered communities are central to the sustainability and future of the Movement."
  8. Movement_Strategy 2017 - williamsworks final synthesis report (Phase 1), p. 1
  9. Movement_Strategy 2017 - williamsworks final synthesis report (Phase 1), page 6. AB Cycle 2 Insights summary
  10. AB Cycle 2 Insights summary, Wikimedia Vision
  11. Community Survey Analysis: Diversity, Q4, “improving access to information”.
  12. The usability of our products and accessibility of our content must be considered essential factors in our policies around inclusion. We must be intentional, in the design of our sites and our tools, to lower accessibility barriers that make them difficult or impossible for some people to use - and by doing so, we benefit individuals, communities, and society as a whole.
  13. AB Cycle 2 Insights summary: “Creating a healthy, inclusive community is paramount to fulfilling the overarching goal of curating the sum of all knowledge and allowing free access to all people … need more rigorous standards of quality and positive behavior … “.
  14. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Claiming Human Rights
  15. Community Survey Analysis: Diversity, Q1
  16. Advocacy R2: Transparency, Community Health R2: Redefining power structures to better serve the communities
  17. Capacity Building R2: Matching human assets and online knowledge resources with capacity building needs
  18. Advocacy R2: Diversity, Advocacy 9: Self-Determination
  19. Capacity Building Principles
  20. Capacity Building R3: Capacity Building Should Occur in Context, Diversity R5: Reflective policies for participation and governance
  21. Considering 2030: Future of the commons, Considering 2030: Future of reference and open knowledge
  22. Advocacy R2: Transparency
  23. Revenue Streams: Principles
  24. Community Survey Analysis: Roles & Responsibilities
  25. Community Survey Analysis: “Urgent issues reflected in the survey”
  26. Community Health R1: Code of Conduct
  27. Partnerships R13: Additional research
  28. Roles and Responsibilities R2&3: Decentralisation and self-management
  29. Resource Allocation RA: Set Common Framework of Principles for Resource Allocation
  30. Roles and Responsibilities R6: Wikimedia movement organisations will be governed by inclusive, diverse, and accountable boards
  31. Roles and Responsibilities R2&3: Decentralisation and self-management
  32. Capacity Building R1: Building Capacity for Capacity Building
  33. Capacity Building R4: Provide Capacity Building for Organizational Development
  34. Community Survey Analysis: Diversity, Q1
  35. System Resilience: What Exactly is it?, Software Engineer Institute, Carnegie Mellon University.
  36. Norman, D. A., & Draper, S. W. (1986). User centered system design: New perspectives on human-computer interaction. CRC Press. Abras, C., Maloney-Krichmar, D., & Preece, J. (2004). User-centered design. Bainbridge, W. Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 37(4), 445-456.
  37. Diversity R1: Introducing people-centered principles within the Wikimedia Movement