Re: Structural changes in WMF to support Movement Strategy going forward

Note: This post is a repost of my response to the Wikimedia Movement Strategy Telegram channel discussions regarding the structural changes in WMF to support the Movement Strategy, including dissolution of the Movement Strategy and Governance team published on the June 30, 2023

Thank you for inquiring into structural changes regarding the support to the Movement Strategy in the Wikimedia Foundation! It makes a lot of sense to have the rationale of some of these changes explained in this dedicated Telegram group.


Over the last few months, the Foundation has made some structural changes that came about as a result of the annual planning process to create next year’s plan. These changes were also the result of needing to reduce expenses by about $8M for the coming fiscal year because of the continued instability we’re seeing in the global economy. (You can find more information in the email our CEO sent out in April as well as in the Annual Plan. With this slower budget growth, we are still continuing to increase financial support (grants) to the movement, and we are not changing or reducing our commitment to movement strategy.

The plan states: “For the second consecutive year, the Wikimedia Foundation is anchoring its annual plan in the Movement’s strategy to advance equity. Our intention is to connect the Foundation’s work even more deeply with the Movement Strategy Recommendations in order to make even deeper progress towards the 2030 Strategic Direction. We remain driven to do this through collaborative planning with others in the Movement who are also implementing the recommendations.”



➼ We want to elevate the Foundation’s movement strategy work and provide more direct visibility to the Office of the CEO. Maggie Dennis, Vice President of the Community Resilience & Sustainability continues to be the person accountable for the Movement Strategy implementation, as previously. Now she works closely on Movement Strategy implementation work with the Foundation CEO, Maryana Iskander as a part of the Office of the CEO. I myself am working more directly and closely with Maggie, and we have dedicated support from other teams.

➼ Instead of a dedicated, yet isolated Movement Strategy & Governance team, we have changed the structure to better support the organizational goals and the movement strategy work. With this change, our goal is to provide better coordinated support to the movement actors working on Movement Strategy and link together different areas of experience and expertise. As a result, every department in the Foundation is mapping their work against the Movement Strategy. You can see these department and organizational goals and how they each relate to movement strategy recommendations in the annual plan.

➼ Now, there are several teams working to advance movement strategy work. For example, the Foundation’s Advancement department provides support through Movement Strategy Implementation Grants, capacity building through Let’s Connect program, and programmatic support through the Community Programs team. There is also a dedicated Committee Support team being developed in the Legal department to contribute to the success of different volunteer committees of our movement.

➼ Part of the structural changes has also focused on coordinating better our activities across community-facing teams and improving our support at the regional level. Overall, support to all the regions continues to be a focus of the Wikimedia Foundation as we move forward. While the layoffs were very hard, speaking especially as someone who worked directly with some of the good people we did not retain, the many remaining members of the team continue their work elsewhere. Being “community friendly” is a goal of the entire Foundation. It makes me truly happy to hear that this team was perceived that way, yet these people continue in that spirit with teammates across the Foundation who are equally passionate about community support.


Specific considerations

➼ Regarding the education program, the Foundation has been working closely with several major education stakeholders in the movement including the Wikipedia and Education User Group and WikiEdu to better understand education needs across the movement and what the roles and responsibilities of all the groups involved should be. Aligning to movement strategy recommendations #4Ensure Equity in Decision-making” and #5Coordinate Across Stakeholders,” we kicked these conversations off at the EduWiki Conference in Belgrade in May 2023 and are currently partnering with those two organizations to conduct research on next steps for the movement’s education strategy.

The Leadership Development Working Group has delivered the Leadership Development Plan, which was its core task. The focus will now shift to the implementation of the plan. We laid out some high-level thoughts about what implementation will look like in the Annual Plan: “We will build on our work with volunteers in previous years to define effective leadership in the Wikimedia Movement and support volunteers to identify their own leadership roles, capacities and aspirations. We will do this by launching a skills self-assessment, discussion guides, a WikiLearn module, and visual diagrams, informed by a Movement leadership development plan and supporting Affiliate and AffCom partnerships.”

This topic merited indeed a longer contextual framing. I hope you find this helpful!


Note: This response has also been posted on meta for those preferring to engage there