Wikimedia Foundation Board Governance Committee/Board skills grid 2014

In June 2012 the Board created its previous skills grid. Whenever a Board is looking for new members, be it elected or appointed ones, this kind of matrix helps to raise awareness for the needs and requirements at that time. That's why this is an exercise which is most helpful when it’s redone every now and again because organizations and Boards change over time, and so does the WMF. The Board’s 2012 decision to narrow the focus of our activities and set our core priorities in grantmaking and engineering, and of course the transition to our new ED Lila gave additional reasons to work again on a skills grid.

The skills grid is to be seen as an addition to our overall and individual Board evaluation, which is going on concurrently. It reflects individual skills which are independent from group dynamics and the way we work together. So it’s rather a set of skills which should be present on the Board than a warranty for efficiency.

The grid helps us to identify those skills which are essential to the Foundation's current needs and strategical direction as well as to eliminate random criteria for future Board composition.

Procedure edit

The WMF Board Governance Committee prepared a survey and invited the entire Board and the C-level staff member to participate. The two fields to explore were similar to the 2012 questions:

  • Which priority does this skill have for the Board in the coming 3 years?
  • How well does the Board cover this skill currently?

There was a form where each participant could rate each item according to its level of risk and opportunity and strategic importance with a scale.

Guiding questions that may have helped to assess priority skill areas included:

  • Is this skill set “mission critical” for our business?
  • Does this skill help us to mitigate a key risk?
  • Will this skill help us move in the direction of our vision?
  • Will this skill help us deliver our key strategic objectives?
  • Is this skill in short supply, highly specialized or unique (as opposed to being possessed by many on the board or in the organization)?
  • Is this a skill we will need in the short, medium or longer term?

Result edit

Note: The skill "Experience in management at the scope and/or scale of the WMF" was accidentally not included in the form for the current coverage, that's why there are no numbers for that item.

  • First number column is Priority: Participants could chose between critical=4; high=3; medium=2; low=1; none=0, maximum sum to be reached is 52 (4*13)
  • Second number column is current coverage: Participants could chose between high=3; medium=2; low=1, maximum sum to be reached is 39 (3*13) which would be 100% coverage
  • Colors indicate to what degree the current Board covers that skill. 0 to 50% = red; 51 to 75% = yellow, >75% = green
Characteristic/Skill priority current coverage in %
Technical or product experience 41 41%
Experience in management at the scope and/or scale of the WMF 37 n/a
Ethnic / multi-lingual diversity for the board as a whole 36 72%
Gender diversity for the board as a whole 36 95%
Experience in governance boards 35 54%
Geographic diversity for the board as a whole 33 67 %
Financial expertise (e.g. Audit, Budgeting, Financial Controls) 33 62%
Experience with online communication and/or online communities 33 82%
Visionary creative drive 33 56%
Sector diversity for the board as a whole (non-profit, for-profit, public sector) 31 59 %
Legal expertise 25 38 %
Grantmaking experience 18 41%

Next steps edit

The Board is going to discuss the skills grid and its implications to the Board composition at its meeting at Wikimania. Any input is appreciated.