Mattias Blomgren and Frans Grijzenhout opened the session on strategy processes for Wikimedia organizations. As an introduction, the speakers asked the audience who had a written strategy in their organization. About two thirds of the participants said they had a strategy. The speakers asked participants to describe their strategies. Some answers:
Focus for 1 ½ years, five branches of activities
2-year operative plan, maybe not so strong strategically
Long-term strategy (3-5 years), short-time strategy with projects
Mission and vision and a compass that gives the priorities but not a full strategy
The speakers asked why do affiliates without a strategy want to have one. A participant answered that it gave confidence in planning and continuity in projects and actions.
Speakers then present their slides. They highlighted the importance of having a strategy, especially for the following reasons:
To develop a common view for the future
To provide continuity & stability
For your members & for the community, for your staff and for your partners
Framework for annual plans and APG applications
Both presenters pointed out, what important steps are to be taken to achieve a common strategy for an organization. First, it was necessary to discuss the necessity and scope of a possible strategy within the organization’s board. Looking for examples of other organizations (especially from the Wikimedia movement) can be helpful, as long as they were comparable in terms of needs / wishes. Both speakers pointed out that for designing a strategy, it is important to handle it as a common project / process. This means that a project leader should be appointed and steps (project plan) should be designed. Also important is, they said, to scan the environment of the organization (external, internal) and to compose a SWOT analysis.
For designing a strategy, organizations (the board, respectively) should think of the different areas that you have to cover and formulate goals. It is to be considered what's in the strategy and what's in the annual plan, e.g. goals can be more specific in the annual plan.
Involving the community, be it the Wikipedia / Wikimedia communities or members, is key. The organization’s members played a decisive role in strategy making and it was important to organize feedback sessions (in person, online). They also hinted that it was advisable to clearly separate feedback sessions from decision making sessions. Finally, it was necessary to approve such a document in a general meeting / assembly of the organization to make it an official document.
Someone asked how much time it takes to prepare the strategy and the Annual Plan and Grant application. Speakers answered that the process started in autumn and a lot of work was done by the staff. Someone else asked how to define strategy and separate it from annual planning. The speakers explained that the common idea was that you need a strategy before you would do something. However, in practice you start doing things and then create an annual plan based on your actions. Through iteration you come to a strategy. A person said that strategy and annual planning are depended of each other and should be looked at together. Someone else added that a strategic plan is the “why” and annual plan is “what”/”how”.
The next question was about how the strategy can be developed with a volunteer board who is not specialized in it. Should consultants be hired? Mattias said that Wikimedia Sweden had outside help designing their first strategy. External help could be used but it was important to look at your values and strengths and try to do it by yourself.
Someone from WMF said that large companies are moving to iterative strategies to better deal with changes. It was better to build a strategy process instead of just a static strategy. Another person added that making a strategy is 80% communication and ability to make adjustments was important.
Affiliates were encouraged by the speakers to share their strategy and planning documents on Meta. Would be good if they were at least in English.
The audience was asked if it was hard to define their strategies. A participant said that it was hard for them because they had no knowledge how to do it and the need to adjust it was a problem.
Frans gave an example of strategy and annual plan differences: Strategy speaks about free knowledge, but an annual plan speaks about GLAM projects etc. A person argued that it is a problem if your strategy is too broad. Everything in our movement had to do something with free knowledge, but it was not a focus. Another person advised to set intermediary points and boundaries to the strategy.
The audience was asked how they worked and if they involved broader community or other stakeholders. A participant said that they tried to involve the community in the Meta discussion but it didn’t work well because of singular interests. Discussions in person were more successful.
In the final part of the session, participants were asked to draft ideas how they would design a strategy for their organizations.