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Photo by Mohannad Khatib, CC BY 2.0.

Building a strategy is hard. Imaging building a shared strategy across a movement of hundreds of thousands of stakeholders, with no direct lines of communication with most of them, no predetermined outcome, and while rebuilding trust and good faith that have been eroded in the past. Imagine building a collaborative strategy from the ground up, in true Wikimedian fashion, through a dialogue happening around the world in dozens of languages.

That’s what we’re doing.

Over the past two months, people across the Wikimedia movement have participated in over 100 strategy discussions and shared over 1,800 thematic statements in response to the question: “What do we want to build or achieve together over the next 15 years?”

Answering this question was the first of several discussions we are undertaking to begin to define Wikimedia’s future role in the world and develop a collaborative strategy to fulfill that role. The discussions have taken place on-wiki, online, and in person, stretching across more than 70 countries and involving people from many different stakeholder groups. The largest in-person discussion took place at the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin, where over 350 community leaders converged to participate in small-group discussions about the future of our movement. On-wiki, more than 50 volunteers and groups helped coordinate discussions with their communities, and more than 85 affiliate groups have held multilingual strategy discussions to talk about the long-term strategic direction of Wikimedia.

The goal of these many conversations was to generate new ideas around potential directions that we can go in the next 15 years. We wanted to build a collective understanding of the key trends that matter to our many stakeholders.

Finding common ground

Over the past few weeks, the movement strategy team grouped the comments into five initial themes that emerged consistently across the conversations. Each of them now has a page on Meta-Wiki[1] with more details and information about how to participate in the relevant discussion:

It’s now time for us to consider, debate and weigh each of those. The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. What impact would we have on the world if we focused on one of these themes? Which ones go together? We can’t do everything, so what do we have to leave behind? What can we not afford not to do? Who do we need to work with to make this happen?

These are the kinds of questions we must now answer. Strategy is ultimately about making choices and trade-offs, which means that we must decide what goals take precedence over others. This will inevitably lead to some disappointment. Now is the time to make your voice heard about what matters most. Join the online and offline discussions taking place on the five themes, and read up on the research currently being conducted to better understand those not yet in the conversation. Both the discussions and the research will be essential in determining where we focus our attention as a movement through 2030.

The discussions will take place between now and June 12. You can participate in as many discussions as you’d like, and also sign up for regular updates. Your comments will help us all better understand these themes, their implications, and the collective impact we can have on the world depending on what we focus on. By Wikimania, which will be held in Montreal in August 2017, we hope to reach agreement around a strategic direction for our future.

Building a strategy is hard, but we are a movement of smart, passionate people obsessed with facts, citations, and intellectual integrity. We have in common a passion for free knowledge and a commitment to serving all human beings.

If anyone can build a collaborative strategy, we can.

Guillaume Paumier, Co-lead architect, Core strategy team
Wikimedia Foundation

Footnotes

[1] We’ve received very helpful feedback from members of the community on translating and framing these themes so they make more sense to more people. As such, we are working on some slight wording changes to help make each theme description easier to understand and translate across languages. Those changes will be on Meta-Wiki within the week.

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