Photo by Barrioflores, CC BY-SA 4.0.

At the beginning of 2017, the Wikimedia movement began a remarkable global discussion to consider our collective future, under the name Wikimedia 2030. We’ve been collaborating on building a broad strategic direction, with the goal of uniting and inspiring people across the world around our vision of free knowledge for all. This direction is the basis on which the Wikimedia communities will strengthen our work, challenge our assumptions, experiment with the future, build clear plans, and set priorities.

The process to develop this direction has been challenging, delightful, messy, and fascinating. More than 80 Wikimedia groups and communities have participated in discussions all over the world. Conversations were held across languages on-wiki, in person (including a 17-hour strategy track at the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin), virtually, and through private surveys. We complemented our discussions with research on readers around the world and conversations with more than 150 experts. We looked at future trends that will affect our mission on our way to 2030.

In July, a drafting group of Wikimedia volunteers and members of the Wikimedia 2030 strategy team took on the enormous task of compiling this information into a draft strategic direction. This drafting group aimed to represent the feedback from participants across the movement who contributed to Wikimedia 2030 — including individual volunteers, Wikimedia organizations, readers, partners, and donors. Their goal has been to produce an early version of the strategic direction that the broader movement can review and discuss.

Today, I’m delighted to share the first draft of the direction with Wikimedia volunteers and groups:

The strategic direction of the Wikimedia movement for 2030 is to become the roads, bridges, and villages that support the world’s journey towards free knowledge. We, the Wikimedia movement, will forge the tools and build the foundations for creating and accessing trusted knowledge in many shapes and colors. Our networks of people and systems will connect with individuals and institutions to share knowledge through open standards and structures, and support them on the journey to openness and collaboration. We will be a leading advocate and partner for increasing the sharing, curation, and participation in free and open knowledge.

As a movement, we will assemble through strong, sustainable communities that motivate us to contribute. We will welcome people from everywhere to grow fields of knowledge that represent human diversity. In doing so, we will contribute to human progress, and to a better understanding of the world and of ourselves.

This direction builds on our movement’s greatest strength, our local communities. It encourages us to expand our horizons, and builds on existing projects and contributors to add new knowledge and new ways to participate. It asks us to be bold and experiment in the future, as we did in the past. It remains rooted in the Wikimedia vision of “a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.”

By 2030, we won’t yet reach “the sum of all knowledge”, but we will make it possible for anyone to join us in this effort.

This draft is not final, and we’ll be continuing to refine it over the next few weeks. We hope everyone will share their thoughts on our talk pages or in upcoming conversations with Wikimedia discussion coordinators. Based on your feedback we receive, the drafting group will continue to refine and finalize this direction through August.

As we have shared before, the strategic direction is not meant to be a strategic plan. For example, we know that plans are shorter term than ten years. They are much more specific: they focus on organizational capacities and resources, clear goals and executable approaches, and ideally give guidance on how to assess their usefulness at points along the way.

A strategic direction is something entirely different. It is meant to be ambitious, with a broad arc that offers plenty of room for aspiration and creativity. It should give guidance on the long term, but leave the goal setting up to interpretation. For Wikimedia, we knew the date 2030 would let people daydream about the future, instead of worry about what was next for their projects. The community will discuss strategic plans in phase 2, starting in November 2017.

As the Foundation Board Chair, Christophe Henner, has said, “a strategic direction is like picking what mountain we want to summit.” Once we know where we’re going, each person and organization can decide how to summit that mountain – ropes, pulleys, helicopters. We hope this strategic direction offers similar opportunities for creativity.

For those attending Wikimania this week, there will be many opportunities  discuss the insights and research which have been developed and shared during the Wikimedia 2030 process. We are hosting a strategy track that will offer the opportunity to learn more about the findings, and offer feedback on the direction.

Thank you to every single person and group that has engaged in this process. While we are not done yet, I want to express our gratitude and congratulations to everyone for your engagement, honesty, and contributions. It has been an interesting, challenging – and often fun – journey, and I am excited to see where it takes us next.

Katherine Maher, Executive Director
Wikimedia Foundation