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Talk:Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2017/Process/Audit of past strategy processes

2010-2015 Strategy ProcessEdit

Very happy to see that you're doing a systematic audit of past processes to consider what worked, what didn't, and how to move forward. I designed and led the 2009-2010 process, and while you've captured a lot of things that did in fact happen (including some of the challenges), there are several items that are just plain wrong. For example, the CFPs were not the foundation of the process. They were a first step in doing some collective listening and an opening for us to help shift away from tactical (how) thinking into more strategic (why) thinking. We were absolutely overwhelmed by the number of proposals that came in, but the community came together to organize the proposals (which was amazing to watch), and the proposals ended up serving the exact purpose for which they were designed. I would be happy to name other problems I find with this description of the process and share thoughts on what went well, what didn't, and what could happen next, either here or in a one-on-one conversation (whose notes we could share here). --Eekim (talk) 22:37, 16 December 2016 (UTC)

GVarnum-WMF Quiddity (WMF)Whatamidoing (WMF) Suzie Nussel (WMF)KLove (WMF)Kbrown (WMF) Katherine (WMF), if you'd like to comment on this for attribution in the Signpost, please let me know. I should be able to include comments submitted by mid-day Sunday. -Pete F (talk) 23:26, 17 December 2016 (UTC)
Peteforsyth, I am not entirely sure what you are asking us to comment on. I don't see a specific question. Beyond that, this is a weekend, with a 24-hour turnaround. Sometimes urgent situations call for rapid response, but in non-urgent situations we try to respect the work / life balance of our staff. If you want to talk to the WMF about strategy for the Signpost, I think the best way to proceed, as usual, is to send your questions to our press team, press and we will work with the relevant people, once the work week begins, and get you a response as soon as possible. --Gregory Varnum (WMF) (talk) 19:52, 18 December 2016 (UTC)
Thanks GVarnum-WMF. Our publication schedule has (sigh) slipped for other reasons, so I will send an email as suggested with a new, more business-hour-friendly 24 hour timeframe. (Please note, Eugene's comment came only a few couple before COB on Friday; we're all operating under constraints not dissimilar to those you describe at WMF.) -Pete F (talk) 08:13, 19 December 2016 (UTC)
Eekim, thank you for the comments. While we interviewed other people involved to get their perspectives, I'm delighted to learn that you're available. It would be great to set up time to interview you early next week to get your perspective and ensure we are properly reflecting what occurred. Suzie Nussel (WMF) (talk) 03:52, 18 December 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for reaching out Suzie Nussel (WMF). Happy to find a time to chat. --Eekim (talk) 17:05, 21 December 2016 (UTC)

2015 Call to Action / discovery work on strategyEdit

It might help to add a line to the Overview stating that the report was published at the end of August and is available at File:2015 Strategy Consultation Report.pdf. Incidentally, the lines March 2015: Kim Gilbey (strategy consultant) hired and the analysis was delayed because a contractor was brought in to complete the report after the strategy consultant completed the initial front-end are not consistent with what I was told yesterday [1] the outside consultant was not brought in to finish the work and deliver outputs; the outside consultant was the one who did the work and was contracted to deliver the report. Unfortunately, the delivery of her report was delayed. But it was the same person, from start to finish. As I mentioned to you at the time, delivery of the report was part of her contract. However the issue which concerned me at the time [2] was the inordinate delay in publishing that report and the lack of communication with the community who had contributed their time and effort to it (a four-month gap without comment is what I noted at the time). There is an obvious lesson to be learned on that specific issue, and I believe that this fits into a pattern which I have endeavoured to articulate [3] and will take the liberty of repeating here for discussion:

  • Good idea; enthusiasm; lots of community and staff involvement; lots of work; unclear timescale and/or success criteria; hence impossible to plan for staff resources; staff resources are not allocated; staff resource not available; staff and volunteers get bored/bogged down/jaded or work is harder than expected; effort slows down below critical; project fades away with little or nothing delivered or heroic efforts/special measures introduced to deliver less than expected later than expected.

If this seems relevant to this consultation, or familar in other projects (as I believe it is), then I invite consideration of how to use this insight to improve subsequent engagement exercises, and especially the Strategy/2016-2017 process. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 18:10, 21 October 2016 (UTC)

Follow up: Thank you for resolving that historical detail. It does not, I think, change my view about the overall pattern, but whether or not that is valid it is a fact that the 2015 report was delayed and I maintain that the delay diminished its value to the WMF and to the community. As I commented at the time, it seemed that there was no member of the WMF staff accountable for the delivery of the report and that will surely have contributed, if indirectly, to the delay. The first lesson to be learned then, is that projects such as this should be planned, adequately resourced, with a timeline and resources built in to the plan, and that a specific member of staff should be responsible and accountable for its delivery, and provided with the resources in terms of budget, personal time and time of other staff and/or contractors for that delivery. The process should be open and transparent to the community., and there should be open and regular communication with stakeholders especially when issues are likely to or do arise, as will surely happen. This may seem like motherhood and apple pie – or at least, elementary good management – to most readers, but for some reason it did not happen here. Whether or not the underlying reason for that failure of management is systemic or merely a one-off is another issue: I believe it to be cultural. But we should be frank about the failure of management. Rogol Domedonfors (talk) 07:20, 24 October 2016 (UTC)

Time and communication resourcesEdit

An assessment should also cover how much a strategy process cost us in terms of time/energies spent by users (especially editors and other active wikimedians, who need not be frustrated or otherwise "wasted") and in terms of communication resources, first of all the CentralNotice which is so often abused by the WMF. For instance I think the 2015 thoughtdump was quite harmful in terms of banner spam and "bytes wasted", though not nearly as bad as certain previous operations. Cf. [4] [5] for some numbers. --Nemo 12:11, 8 March 2017 (UTC)

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