User:Einebillion/ESEAP 2022 Speaker Notes

ESEAP 2022 Speaker Notes for Session C1 Panel on Affiliate Leadership Development edit

Introduction / Mihi edit

Tēnā koutou, tēna koutou, tena koutou katoa Ko Victoria Leachman tōku ingoa Nō Ingarangi ō ku tīpuna Kei te noho au ki Te Whanganui-a-Tara

Hello my name is Victoria Leachman My ancestors came from england I live in Wellington, New Zealand.

I acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of this land and pay my respects to the Elders both past and present.

My introduction was in Te Reo - the Maori language. I am not a speaker of this language but I will be using te reo words in my talk. I’ll translate them as I go.

In my 10 minutes I’ll cover

  • The local context for Aotearoa New Zealand
  • The setup of our User Group
  • What we’re doing to identify skill gaps and bridging these gaps for leadership on a local basis and also at an ESEAP level

The local context for Aotearoa New Zealand edit

I’m the president of Wikimedia User Group of Aotearoa New Zealand. Our editors are working mainly in the english wiki projects. We’ve been an affiliated user group since December 2019. The coordination and connection of editors into a recognised User Group was a direct result of the New Zealand Wikipedian at Large project funded by Wikimedia Foundation in mid 2019. This project saw the editor Giantflightlessbirds roving across New Zealand running workshops and creating connections between established editors and training new editors. Outcomes of this project included

  • Establishment of a regular fortnightly meetup in the capital city of Wellington facilitated by me and my twin sister Ambrosia10,
  • a regular monthly meetup continuing and growing in Christchurch and
  • meetups and training happening semi-regularly in other areas of New Zealand.

Our Meetups are different from edit-a-thons. They are regular meetings for community building - we go around the table so everyone has a chance to talk about what they are doing and what problems they need help with, also finding out what’s happening in the community, and for planning events like edit-a-thons and wikicons. The meetings last about 2 hours and are run monthly

Our first year of existence as a User group was 2020. COVID and particularly New Zealand’s long first lockdown was a huge factor in accelerating our progress as a group. Getting locked down was a positive thing. Ambrosia10 and I shifted the fortnightly Wellington meetup to a fortnightly online meeting and others from around the country joined us, and even some Australians joined in - thanks for joining us Oronsay and MargaretRDonald! We love having you there. We really started to talk to each other and learn who was doing what and what we each of us was interested in and how we could support one another.

Thanks to the lockdown, New Zealand remained covid free in the first half of 2021 and the user group set up a subcommittee to deliver three in person WikiCon weekends using Rapid Grant funding each time. We managed to deliver two - one in the South Island and one in the North Island, then the Delta variant hit New Zealand and we had to cancel the third one. We went back to fortnightly online meetups. It’s only recently that in-person events have started up again and we’ve shifted to monthly meet ups online.

The meetup connections that were formed saw the development of a self selected group of those that wanted to help grow the community, who were collaborative in their approach, and who were willing to put the time into doing the not-so-glamorous or fun work of administration and organisation. Each of the WikiCons had a session on next steps for the User Group and that’s when we agreed that moving towards legal incorporation of the user group was a good idea.

A team of people who were interested got together and started to work. This year we’ve received our first general support grant, incorporated, got a committee selected and we’re writing policies and funding activities.

The setup of our User Group edit

So we’ve got an incorporated society with 7 committee members from across New Zealand with a range of experiences including previous board experience as secretary, or treasurer, or chairs and also have deep Wiki project experience with an admin and some editors with over 10 years experience. It’s a good range of skill sets on our committee.

The User group is still benefiting from monthly online meetings where we share achievements from around the country, inform about organisational progress, events, and wider Wiki matters, and also help editors. In person meetups and edit-a-thons are happening again across the country and the delayed Wellington WikiCon is being planned for next year.

That’s our set up right now.

What we’re doing to identify skill gaps and bridging these gaps for leadership on a local basis and also at an ESEAP level edit

So how do we identify skill gaps in leadership, bridge those skill gaps and plan for the support required

My focus has been on the committee. I feel if we get that committee working right then we can ripple out to get leaders in the wider new zealand community supported better and also identify strategies to fill gaps.

When we drafted our first general support grant application in April of this year we’d just been elected. We knew each other but we also knew we didn’t know each other well. We had to spend time thinking about how we were going to work together and what our strategy was going to be. We needed to spend time agreeing the priorities. In order to lead well - we needed to learn the sensitivities of each other so we could build trust.

We organised an in person strategy weekend with an excellent facilitator that had no experience with Wikimedia but heaps of experience with building effective governance groups. Agreeing behavioural norms on how we will work as a committee, where we will work (the digital tools), how fast we will work (cadence and response time), and sharing our individual motivations and experiences built trust and empathy and teamship with each other. Choosing a great professional facilitator and coach was a big win. She organised an agenda that was flexible to our needs and took advantage of the ways in which the group developed and came together during that weekend to encourage openness and sharing.

The committee acknowledges the value of that weekend and we’re going to run it annually. This will ensure that when new people get elected to the committee they get a chance to say what their motivations are and for the group to reestablish acceptable behaviour norms and ways of working that include their views.

We’ve also put an importance on getting a baseline of understanding in the committee of the Treaty of Waitangi New Zealand’s founding document. We recognise that we are citizens of a nation with Tangata Whenua (people of the land) and Tangata Tiriti (people in New Zealand by right of the Treaty). We need to ensure our kaupapa (principles and ideas that act as a base for action - a way of working) our kaupapa acknowledges, supports, and provides space to enact and practically recognise Te Ao Māori - the Maori world view. We’ve got work to do to ensure that our members have the ability to act from a position of cultural competence. The first step is for the committee to have a common understanding of the Treaty. We acknowledge the lack of diversity in our editors in New Zealand - we don’t have enough Māori editors or editors of Pacific Island origin. Our group doesn’t reflect the demographics of New Zealand. We also have limited numbers of Te Reo (Maori language) speakers as editors. The first step towards attracting new editors in this space - that will hopefully become leaders - is to ensure that the space and our procedures as an affiliate and the current leaders of the Aotearoa / New Zealand community are as supportive as possible to Te Ao Maori (the Maori world view) and tangata whenua (the people of the land).

This is where we are at right now.

I’m also looking at Leadership in two ways - leadership within the New Zealand User group and and leadership in the ESEAP context

What I am realising in the New Zealand context

We’re approaching this with a spirit of openness - we are a new organisation and this our first attempt at setting up practices. We’re going to try our best and be open to improvements or completely scrapping some practices and starting again.

We’re looking at agile methodology - not trying to be perfect - just trying to get it better each time

We are also wanting to remain diversified - we have done best as a user group over the last few years when we’re supporting each other's strengths and when we talk to each other. One of the reasons our User Group reports look so impactful is that we’re not editing it through one person - anyone in the group can contribute and edit and add their successes. Lack of central control is a strength not a weakness. As a committee we do not want to add barriers to members of the user group when they want to lead. We want to support them..

We’ve got common issues:

  • The affiliate doesn’t connect with every New Zealand editor. We’d like to, and we’re trying to but we don’t. We’re thinking about what we can do to encourage editors to become members of our affiliate. We know that editors can become organisers and organisers are the leaders.
  • Affiliate committee and members are impatient and want to achieve far more than we have the leadership depth to achieve. We’ve got capacity issues. I know this is a common issue but we’re at that stage of realising this and figuring out strategies to avoid burnout - this includes de-prioritising pieces of work or at least pushing out the timeframe for delivery. The 7 members of the committee are either admins or key organisers for New Zealand and devoting time to the committee feels like it’s reduced the organising capacity for events, comms, and content projects. It has put pressure on other organisers to do the organising work and that takes them away from their own projects.
  • We are actively supporting those that are demonstrating leadership outside of the committee - be it in a content development/project space, training newbies or the comms/promoting space.
  • We are also actively encouraging people to start organising. This includes approaching new organisers, supporting them to work alongside experienced organisers and then asking them to take on organising projects on their own with support. This is similar to actively encouraging new editors - developing ideas on shadowing / building organising depth. We’re also looking at what training opportunities we might be able to offer and pay for if we’re successful with funding next year. This isn’t organised in any systematic way yet. It’s just how we’re approaching it. A success this year is if we get two new organisers leading projects.
  • I’m also recognising that leadership comes in a number of different forms - if people are leading something they love to do, I’m learning not to try to change them. Administration and events organising is a chore for most - people prefer to lead content projects or talk about content projects. In a not so random example - if they are evangelising the benefits of working with wikidata to communities of natural environment scientists then don’t try to get them to take on organising a WikiCon. Ask them if they need any support for what they are actually doing.
  • A priority is to improve communicating with the wider group - only by talking with everyone and letting them know both the success and the challenges does the community continue to self select and solve issues. I acknowledge our committee has still got work to do on our comms plan. We need to improve on this.
  • We acknowledge we have skill gaps in Measuring and metrics. Looking at what is actually useful in this space. How can the committee demonstrate and improve making a positive impact on the User Group members? How can the User Group make a positive impact on NZ content and NZ community. How can we measure without being an expert in metrics and interpreting results.

So what are we planning?

  • Thinking about funding to hire a staff member to add organising capacity and a focus on relationship building and comms.
  • Setting up an end of year review for the committee of our first budget to better understand where our actual spend occurred and where there were financial pinches and non-spend. And whether our budget spend matched our strategy aims. Did we over estimate what we could achieve in a year?
  • What support can we offer editors looking to become organisers - beyond purely funding. We’re thinking of developing an organiser pack of helpful things for in person editathons, training sessions, and wikicons - checklists, digital tool recommendations, comms scripts, and physical packs of masks, and CO2 metre, and COVID rapid antigen testing. Making it easy so they don’t need to do the research themselves or think of everything.
  • What support can we offer editors wanting to lead content projects - funding sources outside of Wikimedia Foundation, tips and tricks of managing conflicts of interest, comms and how to drum up interest with like minded members of the community to get an editing group bought together.

We’re all about the practical.

With Leadership of our Affiliate in the ESEAP space

I feel like such a newbie. I’m still learning about how Affiliates are organised and talk to each other in a hub. There are other members of the committee that have more knowledge in this area and are helping the committee.

The Aotearoa New Zealand committee and user group is invested in ESEAP and we know we’ve got a lot to learn from other affiliates.

I think organising leads to interests in doing more for the group, which leads to an interest in the wider affiliate ecosystem. We don’t know what we don’t know - Jacqueline and also the online ESEAP meetings have been an extremely useful source of information / support / and guidance but there are times where I feel so ignorant of how the wider ecosystem works that I don’t know what questions to ask. The Aotearoa New Zealand group is beginning to start working with other affiliates. We are starting with our close neighbours Wikimedia Australia. I hope this practice will lead to New Zealand leaders becoming confident in leading more cross-affiliate projects but this will take time and greater capacity. I suspect this will start with administration and content projects but ideally will move on to other types of leadership - offering opportunities for editors / organisers across nations, and possibly leadership programmes.

Thank you