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Minutes | Meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Board (SPC) | 1 June 2023

SPC Attendees: Matthew Shears – Chair, Becky Burr, Edmon Chung, Avri Doria, Christian Kaufmann and Sajid Rahman

SPC Apologies: Maarten Botterman, James Galvin and Wes Hardaker

Executive and Staff Attendees: Xavier Calvez (SVP, Planning and Chief Financial Officer), Franco Carrasco (Board Operations Specialist), Sally Newell Cohen (SVP, Global Communications and Language Services), John Crain (SVP and Chief Technology Officer), Samantha Eisner (Deputy General Counsel) and Becky Nash (VP, Planning), Wendy Profit (Board Operations Senior Manager) and Giovanni Seppia (VP, Implementation Operations)


The following is a summary of discussions, decisions, and actions identified:

The meeting was called to order at 14:30 UTC.

  1. Agenda – The Chair established the agenda for the meeting and gave an overview of items to be discussed.
  2. Review of SPC Workplan and Meeting Cadence - A brief summary of the SPC's workplan was reviewed, which sets out the SPC's scope of responsibilities and relevant timelines for performance of its work. It is anticipated that the SPC meetings scheduled for July and September will focus on the Strategic Outlook process.

    ICANN org and the Chair will monitor the workplan on a regular basis, to ascertain whether it requires any further modifications (e.g., additional meetings to be scheduled for the SPC).

  3. Board Strategy Session on Governance Report Out and Discussion – ICANN org provided an update on the Board strategy session on Governance which was held during the Board Workshop in January 2023.

    The session was structured around the Strategic Objectives, targeted outcomes and strategic risks in ICANN's adopted FY21-25 Strategic Plan. Discussion Questions were offered to prompt strategic thinking and discussion. The observation from this session is being reported out by themes based on the discussion questions:

    Theme 1 Accountability
    • ICANN must be accountable for delivery.
    Theme 2 Consensus challenges
    • Finding common outcomes deserves more attention.
    Theme 3 Effectiveness of the Multistakeholder Model (MSM)
    • There is external pressure on the MSM.
    • MSM default is slow, not rapid change (both positive and negative).
    • How will a Holistic Review change the current MSM?
    • The Board should consider its view of the MSM and whether the model is unscalable and whether it is time to re-evaluate the Bylaws.
    Theme 4 Information/ Communication
    • Additional tools and effective communication are needed to address concerns.
    • The Board should adopt a proactive approach to engagement and the MSM.

    The Board strategy sessions are run as brainstorming sessions, which aims to enable the Board to engage in strategy on a more regular basis; and assess the progress that is being made against the goals of the strategic plan and the priority areas. The multi-year plan enables the Board to do deeper dives into the strategic priority areas and other areas to be identified; as well as account for the time and engagement needed to prepare for and deliver the next strategic plan.

    A report out on the session intends to serve as possible input into the current year Strategic Outlook Trends analysis; and possible input on trends for the development of ICANN's next five-year strategic plan on Strategic Objectives in the current adopted strategic Plan.

    The SPC noted that the inclusion of the statements in the report is intended to reflect the data collected. ICANN org did not intend to change the thoughts that have been shared during the session by re-writing them in a manner that may be more generic and summarized. However, at this juncture, it may be worthwhile to re-assess the data collected and review the rationale behind the statements made during the session. The SPC discussed and agreed that a better approach needs to be formulated to ensure that the feedback provided is reported in an accurate manner e.g., to have a descriptive paragraph summarizing the thoughts that were provided during the session.

    In terms of the SPC's briefing to the Board, the SPC agreed for ICANN org to rework the approach to report the feedback from the session by having a narrative with illustrative comments from the data from the session to reflect certain scenarios, such as, is there a need to action, or is a specific work an ongoing task, or is there something that needs to be actioned, or is a further discussion required among the Board as it relates to a particular topic that came out of this brainstorming around one of the strategic objectives.

    The Chair noted that this is the first time that the SPC is providing a report to the Board from a Board strategy session. Thus, it would be important to ascertain the best mechanism for the SPC to capture the Board's feedback on particular issues surrounding the strategic priorities. Going forward, these discussions will be spread out further across the Strategic Plan on a more regular basis so as not create a burdensome cadence for the Board.

  4. Project Update: Enhancing the Effectiveness of ICANN's Multistakeholder Model – The SPC continued its discussion on this topic.

    ICANN org provided a brief background of this project, which was initiated in late 2018 with the objective of focusing on enhancing ICANN's multistakeholder model of governance. Extensive community consultations were held to identify specific work processes, working methods and culture issues that were hampering the more effective functioning of the multistakeholder model. Six areas were shortlisted to be prioritized, and ICANN org designed a methodology to evaluate the initiatives/ projects under the six issues. ICANN org selected four projects for evaluation as they have been fully implemented and involve the whole community:

    • Improving communications between ICANN org and the community;
    • Fellowship Program;
    • ICANN Learn; and
    • Consensus Playbook.

    ICANN org completed the evaluation of the first three of the projects and internally reviewed the results with various SMEs. These results are ready to be published on the wiki and via a blog to inform the community. The evaluation of the Consensus Playbook is in the data collection stage and has advanced as far as feasible at the moment, pending further work on the community's side. The Fellowship Program and ICANN Learn, as well as the two projects assessed for improving communications between ICANN org and the community (ICANN Community Digest and the Public Comment Proceedings) are activities that well contribute to the effectiveness of the MSM by:

    • having sound KPI/metrics (that allow the regular review of these initiatives as well as their inclusivity;
    • including documenting and reporting methods that support and enhance transparency and accountability; and
    • having long-term implementation strategies that are embedded in the ICANN Operating Plan cycles.

    In 2022, ICANN org investigated other projects/initiatives which ICANN introduced since 2020 to support the MSM. ICANN org also continues to evaluate the current list of projects/initiatives by applying the evaluation methodology that has been applied to the initial projects. Metrics in those projects and initiatives will help future evaluation of the projects, especially from the perspective of how those projects are supporting the MSM.

    As there have been several changes in the ICANN MSM since the project was first initiated, ICANN org presented a proposal to move the project forward in a more dynamic way to:

    • Revisit the issues impacting the effectiveness of ICANN's MSM and together with the community, determine how the landscape of ICANN's governing model has changed, what issues continue to remain, and what new issues may have emerged over the recent years.
    • While continuing to list helpful activities/initiatives in the scope of the issues identified, focus improvement efforts on a finite and specific list of projects have clear potential for improvements.
    • Work with the various ICANN org Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to embed proper metrics of measurement in all projects identified.

    The Chair reiterated that the evaluation of those other three areas that were initially identified will still be pursued (once the evaluation of the first three priority items have been concluded). In response to a query from the SPC, ICANN org clarified that it would analyze the available data for each of the selected projects and initiatives e.g., number of courses for ICANN Learn, the participants' level of satisfaction for the courses. For the Fellowship Program, ICANN org is looking at the data available for the most recent changes that have been introduced to the program, such as the application of the new selection criteria as well as the procedures to make sure that underserved regions are represented and taken into account during the selection process. The metrics and KPIs vary from project to project, and the Implementation Operations team is liaising with the appropriate SMEs internally to understand the set of data that is available for each project, to analyze and determine if there are any other data that could be introduced in the future to support and facilitate the effectiveness of the project and initiative, as well as its evolution.

    The Chair emphasized the importance of communicating to the community and the visibility of the evolution in the MSM.

  5. Development of the FY26-30 Strategic Plan – The SPC is the committee with oversight of the Strategic Plan. The ICANN FY26-FY30 Strategic Plan needs to be adopted no later than May 2025 (to go into effect for the FY26 fiscal year) and the development process should start soon. ICANN org is in the process of developing options to enable discussion to define the approach, roles and responsibilities, timeline to finalize the planning effort for this endeavor.

    In terms of the suggested approach and process, ICANN org highlighted that the development of a strategic plan is the strategic thinking process and the process of discussing and learning from what we are doing now to enhance what we are going to do next.

    ICANN org provided an overview of the different components of the planning process to facilitate discussions and how the SPC intends to view these elements. The integrated approach includes the Strategic Plan and the Operating Plan being developed together. ICANN org also shared a comparison of the FY21-25 planning (28 months) and the FY26-30 planning (30 months):

    FY21-25 Planning – 28 months FY26-30 Planning - 20 months
    The Strategic Plan was developed first, published for public comments and was adopted, then the development of the Operating Plan started. The proposal is to develop the Strategic Plan and the Operating Plan simultaneously. It will be an integrated development process.
    The community commented on three public comment proceedings. The community will comment on one public comment proceeding for both the Strategic Plan and the Operating Plan.
    The total development of the Strategic Plan and Operating Plan was 28 months. The proposed total development for both the Strategic Plan and the Operating Plan is 20 months.

    With regards to the proposed integrated development process, the Chair reiterated the importance of community engagement and communication to ensure that significant community input is sought. While the term "simultaneous" may not be accurate, the Chair noted that from a strategic planning perspective, the kickoff point which is the broader strategic priorities is something that the Board needs to do but that does not mean that the Strategic Plan and the Operating Plan cannot be initiated in an integrated manner.

    Based on the comments received from the SPC, ICANN org will ensure that the approach will involve the community, ICANN org and the Board together, as opposed to sequentially as per the previous cycle. ICANN org will re-assess how to produce the overall strategic set of tools, whether in one or two separate documents, to achieve the same purpose, which is developing a plan that can be applied, followed, delivered and reported on.

    ICANN org commented that the Strategic Plan is required in the Bylaws, and therefore the Operating Plan has to be reflective of operations that can still be responsive to any fluctuations in the Strategic Plan that is based on the Trends Analysis exercise. The Chair reinforced that community engagement is critical to ensure that individuals from different parts of the community are able to contribute and bring their expertise to the process. ICANN org agreed that a communications plan should be created for the development of the FY26-30 Strategic Plan.

    Going forward, ICANN org will work to develop the structure and the detailed plans to ensure that there is appropriate contribution throughout the FY26-FY30 planning process from the Board, ICANN org and the community. ICANN org also shared an overview of the proposed integrated timeline.

    • Action item:
      • ICANN org to circulate to the SPC a more detailed structure and process for the development of the FY26-30 Strategic Plan in due course, for the SPC's review and discussion.
  6. Any Other Business

    • Next SPC meeting (July 2023) – the next SPC meeting will focus on the next Strategic Plan and on the Strategic Outlook Trends Analysis will be presented by ICANN org. The Chair will circulate some key points to the SPC to prepare for the next meeting.
    • Revised SPC Charter – the Chair to circulate a revised draft SPC Charter to the SPC early next week, for the SPC's email approval.

The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 10 November 2023