One of my past projects is a finalist for the Harvard Business Review / McKinsey Management 2.0 Challenge. I am recruiting Wikimedians and everybody who cares about open collaboration in general and the Wikimedia movement in particular to help us win.
From 2009-2010, I had the pleasure of designing and leading the Wikimedia strategic planning process. Not only was it the first strategic planning process of its kind for Wikimedia, it was the first of its kind anywhere in the world. It was a completely open, movement-wide process, where anyone in the world could help co-create a five year plan for the movement as a whole. It was risky, it was scary, it was stressful, and it was exhilarating.
And it worked. Here’s what happened:
- More than 1,000 people from all over the world contributed to the project
- These volunteers created over 1,500 pages of high-quality, new content in over 50 languages
- The year-long process resulted in five clear movement-wide priorities that has resulted in a movement-wide shift over the past year
If you’re a Wikimedian, you’ve seen and felt the renewed focus. If you’ve followed Wikimedia, you’ve read about initiatives that have emerged from the plan: closing the gender gap among contributors, a shifting emphasis on the Global South, and a slew of innovative features focused on strengthening community health. All of this came out of the planning process.
Why did it work?
It worked because we had an organization (the Wikimedia Foundation) that was committed to the cause and the process, even though it was an enormous risk for them. It worked because we had a great team. But the main reason it worked is that Wikimedia consists of an amazing, engaged, passionate community. We created a space, we invited people to come, and passionate, devoted, really smart people came and took care of the rest.
I’ve been wanting to tell the story of the process for a long time, but the usual thing happened: I got busy with cool new projects. Along the way, friends and colleagues have convinced me to get bits and pieces of the story out. Diana Scearce of the Monitor Institute has been a huge evangelist of the work, constantly putting me in front of philanthropic audiences to tell the story. The Leadership Learning Community (on whose board I serve) asked me to do a webinar on the topic last March, which garnered a great response.
Chris Grams has probably been our biggest advocate, and he’s the reason I’m writing this blog post today. Chris heard about our work through a mutual colleague, and he asked me to lead a webinar on the project for opensource.com. Something about our story stuck with him, and he kept finding ways to talk about us.
Several months ago, Chris told Philippe Beaudette (the facilitator of the project) and me about the Management 2.0 Challenge. As usual, I was too busy to contribute, but Chris pushed us. He wrote the initial story, and he kept kicking our butts until we fleshed it out. And so we did.
Today, they announced the top-20 finalists, and we’re one of them. The other 19 stories are really great, and it’s an honor to be nominated. But you know what, our story is the best of the bunch. We’re talking about Wikimedia, the greatest, free, volunteer-created repository of human knowledge that exists on the planet. We ought to win.
You can help us do that. The final judgement will be based on the feedback the story get, and how the story evolves as a result. So for starters, we need feedback. Please read the story. Rate it, comment on it, and ask as many people as possible to do the same.
Thanks for helping!
Photo by Ralf Roletschek. Cropped by Deniz Gultekin. Licensed CC-BY-SA 3.0.