Le lundi 7 mars 2016, 13:40:20 Brion Vibber a écrit :
> Third, what happens when the "unicorn" retires and we transition again?
> I think we're going to need to think harder about structural remedies:
> communications channels, reporting infrastructures, "escape valves" for
> miscommunications or squashed communications in the reporting chain, etc.

I agree. I think it's going to be critical for us to rebuild the organization 
in a way that is more resilient to the shortcomings of any single individual.

This reminds me of this quote: "As a leader, your goal should always be to 
build structures and processes that don't depend on you and ideally don't need 

It's from an article I shared with Lila and Boryana in December due to the 
context then:


These were my thoughts on the topic back then:


I think a key point here is that the key to an efficient and resilient
organization is distributed processes and documentation. The article notably
mentions Conway's Law, whose application is unusual in the context of the WMF.

The law states that organizations model their products after their own 
structures and processes. Because the WMF was created /after/ its products, the 
opposite happened: the WMF modeled itself after the open, collaborative wiki 
model, and stayed that way for a while. During that initial period, there was 
little conflict between the WMF and our communities.

As the WMF grew and professionalized, we started drifting from that model. The
risk of alienating our values and identity (and as a consequence our
communities) was identified early on.

At Sue Gardner's request, the theme of the 2010 all-staff meeting was "How do
we grow our organization but stay who we are" (paraphrased). One of the all-
staff exercises was to "list the things we cherish"; One prominent item on this
list was "The Casey Browns of this world" (
 ), after the name of one of our most engaged volunteers
involved in many support functions for the WMF. I found this so insightful
that I took that picture :)

Despite that early caution, we /have/ more or less abandoned the wiki model
gradually (due to many different factors), and I see this reflected in the
results of the Engagement survey.

I feel that many of the issues the organization is facing right now (both
internally, and externally with our communities) are related to this conflict
between our original model and the one we've drifted towards.

My impression, based on my personal experience and 6 years of being at the
WMF, is that the most successful WMF initiatives have been those led by people
who followed the wiki model as closely as possible (regardless of whether they
were originally hired from the communities). I'm happy to discuss this further
and share my experience in this area, if you're interested.


Guillaume Paumier
Wikimedia Foundation

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