On Wed, Nov 21, 2012 at 6:02 PM, Quim Gil <q...@wikimedia.org> wrote: > There is a blog post & video circulating these days, about how GitHub Inc is > organized as a company. They also manage a version control system promoting > decentralized collaboration, plus other tools supporting this core goal and > the big community around it. They are also hundred-something. They have also > offices in San Francisco. They are also a young organization growing fast. > Etc.
Yeah, I'm familiar with it. There's also a similarly interesting description of the organizational culture at Valve (makers of Half-Life, Portal, etc.) in the form of their employee handbook: http://newcdn.flamehaus.com/Valve_Handbook_LowRes.pdf I like a lot about the picture these presentations and documents paint, and I think there's a ton we can learn from them. There are of course also crucial differences between Wikimedia and a Git hosting company or a game developer, and less obvious ways that power is exercised in both organizations (e.g. the role of the founders). > Well, at least your proposal doesn't go against this scenario. Perhaps is one > step in that direction. [Fair warning, below is really starting to drift away from being on-topic for wikitech-l and going into general OD stuff.] I believe so. I do think we should have bigger conversations about what kind of organization we want to be, and what tradeoffs we'd need to accept if we wanted to move away from what's stilll in many ways a fairly hierarchical model. Like I said, I don't think you can make major structural changes in isolation, or you'll just end up with mismatched expectations and broken hearts. ;-) I do think flat structures are pretty enticing, though. I encourage you (and anyone) to look a bit more into the way things currently work if you want to help be part of continued evolutionary change. I've had conversations with Sue about this and she's pretty open to supporting well-justified structural changes (hence this discussion). The Board, too, is generally open-minded and responsive. An example where I think change is badly needed is the Annual Planning process. There are few aspects of WMF that follow as conventional a hierarchical model as this one. You see the output: a 71 page document  describing the organization's planned financials, key activities and targets, etc. To get to that point, we went through a multi-month process driven primarily by managers, sending drafts and submissions up and down and up the organizational ladder, with final review by Sue and ultimate approval by the Board. This was followed by the Narrowing Focus resolution, the Narrowing Focus process (with again lots of leadership involvement), the Narrowing Focus document and its approval, the Wikimedia Foundation FDC submission and its approval, etc. That's a lot of time spent on meta-level work. I'm not arguing it's time and effort wasted, but I do think there's a lot of room for streamlining and consolidating processes. I also think it's predicated on the assumption that creating a more comprehensive plan will lead to a better outcome, and I would challenge that belief -- there's a threshold at which point the opposite is true, and I think in a lot of our work that threshold is very low because the unknowns are pretty large and new ideas and opportunities may emerge all the time. Moreover, to get back to the point you were making, I think this is the kind of thing that creates a lot of dependency on conventional management approaches -- time that could be spent, by those same people, on doing the actual work the plan talks about, while creating a less rigid harness for the organization as a whole, in turn allowing for structures to be simplified and enabling greater autonomy across the board. So, I'm not arguing against deeper structural changes -- just for change that's harmoniously managed in concert with the various other factors at play. Cheers, Erik  https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/4/4f/2012-13_Wikimedia_Foundation_Plan_FINAL_FOR_WEBSITE.pdf -- Erik Möller VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation Support Free Knowledge: https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate _______________________________________________ Wikimedia-l mailing list Wikimediaemail@example.com Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l