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Minutes | Board Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) Meeting 7 September 2021

SPC Attendees:  Matthew Shears – Chair, Becky Burr, Ron da Silva, Lito Ibarra, Danko Jevtović, Ihab Osman, León Sánchez and Tripti Sinha

SPC Apologies: Nigel Roberts

Observers: Avri Doria and Manal Ismail

Other Board Attendees: Maarten Botterman (Board Chair) and Göran Marby (President and CEO)

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), David Conrad (SVP, Chief Technology Officer), Becky Nash (VP, Planning), Wendy Profit (Board Operations Senior Manager), Amy Stathos (Deputy General Counsel), Theresa Swinehart (SVP, Global Domains and Strategy) Nathalie Vergnolle (Director, Planning) and Victoria Yang (Planning Senior Manager)

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

The meeting was called to order at 14:38 UTC.

  1. Agenda – The Chair established the agenda for the meeting and gave an overview of items to be discussed.

  2. Preparation for Upcoming Board Strategic Objectives Session: Financials – The Chair provided a brief overview of the upcoming mid-period evaluation of ICANN's strategic objective on Financials on 10 September 2021, which will be held during the September Board Workshop.  During this session, the SPC Chair will provide a brief introduction to the session, and ICANN organization will provide a presentation to demonstrate the current progress made against ICANN's strategic plan.  The SPC members will also facilitate a brainstorming session, which will be followed by a wrap-up/conclusion session by the SPC Chair and the ICANN Board Chair.

    The Chair reiterated the importance of this session, as part of the SPC's work plan, to measure the current progress made against the strategic priorities of the Board, as well as planning ahead for the next strategic planning process.

    The Chair encouraged the SPC members to lead the discussion during the brainstorming session; and to prepare and complete the pre-reading materials prior to the session. The SPC will schedule a meeting after this session to discuss the key takeaways.

  3. FY23 Strategic Outlook: Trend Analysis and Impact Assessment – The objective of this agenda item is for the SPC to review the FY23 Strategic Outlook trend results and evaluate the recommendations, with a view to formulate a recommendation to the Board on potential changes, if any, to the current ICANN Strategic Plan for FY23.

    The Board has an obligation to ensure that the adopted Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2021-2025 continues to meet ICANN's needs.  The SPC oversees the annual Strategic Outlook process, which ensures that ICANN has a consistent way to identify and track trends, prepare for opportunities, mitigate or avoid challenges, inform strategic and operational planning and prioritization.

    The Chair recapped the Strategic Outlook trend identification process. In 2021, ICANN convened 16 strategic outlook sessions with 300 participants from the community, Board, and ICANN org, resulting in 1114 data points collected which resulted in 607 trend statements, 286 risks or threats, and 221 suggested actions or opportunities. Trend session participants were asked to consider trends, risks, and opportunities across five focus areas: security, unique identifier systems, governance, geopolitics, and financials.

    In July 2021, ICANN org prepared a draft report summarizing the results of the trends identification sessions conducted, to inform the Board, the SPC, the Executive team, and relevant ICANN staff about shifts in trends that may affect their work, planning, and budget. ICANN org highlighted some of the results of this year's trends identification sessions, as well as additional observations on noticeable shifts in trends or new noteworthy trends, including:

    • The Board, community and ICANN org are mostly aligned in terms of priorities.  However, the Board prioritized Geopolitics more than the community or ICANN org, whereas ICANN org prioritized Unique Identifier Systems higher than the community or the Board.
    • In 2021, the focus areas of Geopolitics received the greatest volume of priority vote, followed by Security and Governance.
    • Internet of Things Security, Prioritization Challenges, Emerging Identifier Technologies and Governmental Pressure received the highest increase in priority votes year over year.
    • External Tech Advancement, and Effectiveness of the Multistakeholder Model demonstrated the greatest drop in votes as compared to 2020.
    • Over the years, the topic of Governance has been losing votes to the focus areas of Security and Geopolitics, showing a notable shift of interest from internal trends towards external trends, while Financials and Unique Identifier Systems have remained mostly stable.
    • In relation to the trend impact assessment, it provides a framework to systematically evaluate the materiality and immediacy of trend impacts, to trigger executive discussions and help Executives and the Board to determine future tactical and/or strategic priorities.  ICANN org clarified that when evaluating the impact of the trend, only new trends/ notable shifts in trends are being evaluated.

    The SPC engaged in an in-depth discussion on the assessment of new impacts and the proposals and discussion points presented by ICANN org.  Some observations and feedback from the SPC include:

    • The SPC noted that some trends have been assessed as "take action".  ICANN org clarified that in this context, "take action" does not necessarily mean that there is a change that needs to occur, but continuous action is taken on the trend as it remains to be a high trend because of the materiality and immediacy of the impact.  In this regard, more clarity is required in the impact assessment methodology to be explicitly clear on the significance of each quadrant of the impact assessment matrix and possibly adjust the terminology for more clarity.
    • The SPC Chair reiterated the importance of the SPC's oversight responsibility on the annual strategic outlook process, which ensures that ICANN has a consistent way to identify and track trends, prepare for opportunities, mitigate or avoid challenges, that inform ICANN's strategic and operational planning and prioritization decisions.
    • The SPC noted that some of the trends/issues have been concerns for a considerable period of time, and they have been further exacerbated by the current COVID-19 pandemic situation (e.g., challenges in getting people involved in the ICANN space).
    • To avoid confusion and for purposes of clarity, the SPC made some suggestions to improve the substance and language used in the draft report.

    The next steps towards the finalization of the FY23 Trend Report include:

    • September/October 2021:
      • Finalization of recommendations for Board consideration
      • Production and publication of final FY23 Trend Report
      • Tactical recommendations to be accounted for in FY23 Operating Plan development
    • November/December 2021:
      • Board resolution (including decision to update the strategic plan or to leave it unchanged)
      • Publication of final FY23 Trend Report and FY23 Draft Plans

    The SPC will continue to review the draft report in further detail, and it will engage in further discussions on this topic prior to making a recommendation for Board consideration in September/October 2021.

    • Action Items:
      • The Chair will coordinate with ICANN org to ensure that the SPC's comments/proposed modifications are being incorporated into the FY23 Trend Report.
      • ICANN Org will review the impact assessment methodology to clarify the significance of each quadrant of the impact assessment matrix and adjust terminology for better clarity.

The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 15 October 2021