This session documentation was approved (partially) by one of the speakers.
Speakers from four different movement organisations (WMF and 3 chapters) talk about how they have dealt with governance challenges their organisation has faced over the last year. Then a facilitated small-group workshop where participants share their current issues and perspectives.
Presenting learnings and experiences identifying common challenges. Participants get useful advice from peers about problems they face.
Board and staff of Wikimedia organisations
30 mins - updates on challenges faced/overcome from 3-4 organisations, then group workshops; 90 min in total
Over the last year, several Wikimedia organisations struggled with board governance issues, so the topic was quite important for many Wikimedians. Two Board Governance Workshops were held in London (in March and August 2014).
The session started with Tim Moritz Hector, chairperson Wikimedia Deutschland, presenting the way his chapter handled the transition phase and change of its Executive Director. He explained that the main challenge around the transition phase was to involve people, but still keeping the board (able to be) responsible for the results. Tim further added the three main questions:
Who has stakes in the decision? (Members of the association, volunteers/community, C Level staff, the board itself and external advisors)
How to select the members of the team? (from the inner to the outer circle: board -> members / staff / community -> external advisors; e. g. community election for the community-representative, pick by the board for the member-representative)
How to deal with that team? (clear timeline, clear responsibilities, small work packages, documentation, clear communication strategy)
Finally, he presented WMDE’s three learning around the transition phase:
Don’t be shy to involve people – be bold and give them a significant role, even in difficult processes.
Communication: Honest and in small packages
Ask for feedback (within the team and external) and schedule the time to consider inputs.
Alice Wiegand, member of the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, told about her experiences with the Board of Trustees, especially about the recent ED transition (from Sue to Lila) and about the composition and stability of the Board itself. For the latter, time commitment and information flow are major issues. The central question is, Alice said, is about how do people come to the Board of Trustees and what do they bring with them. About this questions the Board of Trustees initiated a RfC on Meta. Alice three recommendation for Boards are:
If you make major chances, make sure to have a broad consensus
If you’re on the board and you don’t agree about a decision, say it out loud
Involve your stakeholders at an early stage
José Flores, president of Wikimedia México, took the third part of the presentation. He explained that his chapters was mostly driven by intuition instead of methodical processes. José told that it was important for them to develop objectives as all work was done by volunteers. He pointed out how important it is to track all activities and to document them (what did we do? what where the results? what was good, what went wrong?) and even the smallest activity had to be documented, classified and saved.
Christophe Henner, president of Wikimédia France, presented the experiences of his chapter. Christophe explained that a board should first ask „why“ and not „what“ to do. One of the most important learning within WMFR was there not all elected board members matched their "job descriptions", but stated it is difficult and sensible to discuss about who fits to the board (and who not), some people have better (or more) skills for being a board member than others. At the moment, the board of WMFR is shaping to the board that is needed and is looking for appropriate candidates for the next general assembly election ("managed democracy"). Furthermore, Christophe referred to the Board Handbook (in French) written by the volunteers and staff members of Wikimédia France.