Verksamhetsberättelse 2020/Story: Passing the threshold

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In this Story we are focusing on the expansion of our team while still keeping the quintessence of what we are and how we operate as a chapter and a team. We are developing our governance documents in a different way than most organizations, we have formed our teams differently, we have allowed a lot of independence for staff members, we have focused on finding the best possible staff regardless of where they live and we have started to engage external expertise when needed.

Previously Wikimedia Sverige’s team has been intentionally limited to a maximum of 9 staff members. The reason is that after 10 employees an organization in Sweden has to adhere to a number of more stringent rules as an employer, with more policies, rules and procedures that need to be formalized. Now, however, we have reached a level of maturity that has allowed us to grow beyond this previously set limit. For a few months in 2020 we reached a total of 16 staff members.

To prepare and uphold this higher level of organizational maturity, while still staying nimble and innovative, is a challenge. A lot of thinking and planning has gone into preparing for this change. A few important choices were made to keep the core of the organizational culture through these changes:

  1. Whenever new policies are adopted the entire staff are invited for a 1-2 hour long session to scrutinize the near-ready text and crowdsource it to improve the policy. The thinking is that the entire staff is supposed to follow the policies and therefore must fully understand, support and be willing to defend the policies. This is crucial if the organization is to continue scaling further with new staff members joining and possibly criticizing the often different and unique ways we do things. The policies are intentionally kept short and the non-core parts have been moved to supporting documents. This makes the organization less rigid and the policies easier to understand and remember. This insight is something that the board has repeatedly pushed for.
  2. Within the organization different teams have been formed around different activities. These teams have on purpose been broken up over time and re-formed in new constellations for other activities. This ensures that different team members contribute with their expertise in different activities, the team members continuously learn from each other, no ‘cliques’ form and experimentation is continuously maintained. When scaling further the intention is to form teams of triads, that will shift in composition over time.
  3. As soon as the main goals have been reached in an area, staff members are encouraged to form new partnerships, expand projects and look for external opportunities. This keeps the staff interested in their work as they can co-create and own an area. The work does not get repetitive if the staff member does not choose so (which is a possibility as a good project does not necessarily have to change massively every year). This creates a lot of extra work for management to change and adjust budgets and yearly plans but the benefits outweigh the costs.
  4. As an Internet-born organization we have worked to create opportunities for staff to work remotely over the last few years. We have been very successful in this regard and many of our current staff and contractors are working from multiple different locations in Sweden and internationally. This was further accentuated this year due to COVID-19. Our intention to support the wider movement around content partnerships and the growth in staff needed for it means that we have investigated hiring internationally; work has therefore also been initiated to translate the material and policies needed for this to happen.
  5. We have initiated work to engage HR consultants to support the leadership with expertise if the increase in staff continues further and even stricter regulations start applying to our workplace.