Working Together to Tame the Coming Tsunami

17 November 2014
By Ashwin RanganAshwin Rangan

Watch Ashwin's Call to Action

It is just over eight months since I joined ICANN and several noteworthy events have occurred since.

Within a few days of coming on board, the IANA Stewardship Transition was announced. Fadi's efforts to appropriately position Internet Governance and the follow-on work with NETMundial have progressed, leading to some critical hand-overs. And in attending my third (yes, already my third!) ICANN meeting in Los Angeles, I was able to detect an increasing tone of collaboration within the Stakeholder community, something that will require our increased support.

For instance, various Stakeholder community groups have been meeting to review ICANN accountability, transparency and processes with an eye on improving all of them; sometimes in an interlinked fashion.

The fact is more and more cross-community teams are forming all of the time. And they're beginning to work on a set of principles as well as a common framework for such cross-community activities.

Fadi has recognized this as well. And during his Opening Keynote at ICANN51, he made clear that his focus and energies already are directed more inward than outward. He also is committed to remain focused on ICANN Operations.

And so is his Global Leadership team. With six SO-AC-SG-C Leader roundtables during ICANN51, we, sitting alongside Fadi, heard many new ideas for operations improvements.

Independently, to help me gain an accelerated education about the ICANN ecosystem, I have been visiting with the different Stakeholder groups - at ICANN meetings, over the phone, in person - whenever there is an opportunity. And I'm recognizing opportunities for improved services, leveraging tools and technologies.

All of these activities have the same goal - a time-efficient and cost-effective ICANN (Stakeholder communities + Board + Staff), working collaboratively. However, left to their current pathways, this is becoming like a wild Tsunami, gaining strength from many directions - a potentially uncoordinated Tsunami of requests and requirements.

Speaking from an IT point of view, I think we can bring these various vectors together in a constructive way, for the collective benefit of all of us. Together, we can tame this Tsunami.

Here is what I am feeling…

I'm energized by the prospects. Many of these ideas are compelling. We can get passionate about them. Their need is clear.

Here is what I am thinking…

What's required to make this all happen is becoming clearer to me. And many Stakeholder communities are saying the same thing – but from their specific point of view.

For example - The ALAC wants a set of Issues Management Tools that, in its request, is almost identical to what the SSAC wants. The GAC and the ALAC are both requesting revised websites. The GNSO and the ALAC are both seeking a Knowledge/ Information Management tool. And so on....

To address this, we have a choice.

The Stakeholder communities could EITHER have different parts of ICANN be pressed to define, develop and deliver specific, point solutions to satisfy each of these requests, satisfying one Stakeholder community at a time.

OR, we can choose a path where a single Stakeholder community (or a small cross-community group) takes "ownership" of an idea, fleshes it out completely and, when almost fully-cooked, invites other Stakeholder groups to weigh-in.

The result could be a robust set of requirements that represents the collective needs of our vast, global community. We - the ICANN staff - can then take these requirements and source a tool or a set of technological capabilities in the most cost-effective and time-efficient manner.

Of course, not everything will fit into this mind-map. However, there are many requests coming at us concurrently which do fit this model. If we choose the "one-off" path, we would be robbing ourselves of an invaluable opportunity and adding to the confusing plethora of tools already in the ICANN toolbox, not to mention adding to ICANN's operating costs.

So here's what I am proposing. We will create a page on the ICANN Community Wiki, where all the requests coming our way are catalogued with the specific Stakeholder community making the request. That can be the base from which we could journey together towards a common Stakeholder, community-wide, set of tools and technologies. Our remit could then be to ensure delivery and support of a harmonized set of robust tools which interoperate where possible and sensible.

Here are my questions of you:

  1. Do you agree with this concept – of build once and re-use many times? The IT artifacts and services I have reviewed do not currently show much of re-use.
  2. If you agree, would you be willing to work as a member of a cross-community working group, focused on Community collaboration Tools? For the sake of brevity, let us call it a Community Tools Focus Group, or CTFG.
  3. If that too is agreeable, would it make sense to have just ONE such CTFG across all SOs? Like an SO-CTFG? And ANOTHER such, for all ACs? Like an AC-CTFG?
  4. As a working charter for such CTFGs, could you commit time to work with other CTFG members to help frame a Problem Statement (along with clear and specific examples)?
  5. The ICANN staff can take this as input and seek appropriate solutions to address the problem. And get back with the concerned CTFG with a small (2 or 3) set of considered options. From which the CTFG can pick the solution that best meets the needs.

I welcome your thoughts....You can send them my way by using the subject handle "Tsunami" and addressing your email to:


Thank you for your time!


Ashwin Rangan

Ashwin Rangan

SVP, Engineering and Chief Information Officer (CIO)
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