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

SPC Attendees: Matthew Shears – Chair, Becky Burr, Edmon Chung, Avri Doria, James Galvin, Danko Jevtović, León Sánchez and Tripti Sinha

Observers: Manal Ismail and Katrina Sataki

Executive and Staff Attendees: Xavier Calvez (SVP, Planning and Chief Financial Officer), Franco Carrasco (Board Operations Specialist), Samantha Eisner (Deputy General Counsel), Becky Nash (VP, Planning), Wendy Profit (Board Operations Senior Manager), and Nathalie Vergnolle (Director, Planning).

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

The meeting was called to order at 15:00 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

    The Chair provided a brief summary of the SPC's workplan, which sets out the SPC's scope of responsibilities and the relevant timelines. The Chair noted that "Oversight of the Evolution of the Multistakeholder Model" has been added to the SPC's scope of responsibilities. ICANN organization and the Chair will monitor the workplan on a regular basis, to ascertain whether it requires any further modifications (as necessary), to encapsulate the SPC's additional responsibilities.

  3. FY23 and FY24 Planning Process Updates

    1. FY23 Planning Process Update: ICANN org provided a high-level overview of the FY23 through FY27 planning activities that are taking place within the next five months. In terms of FY23 planning update:

      • FY23 Strategic Outlook Trends process was concluded in October 2021.
      • FY23-27 Draft Operating & Financial Plan and Draft FY23 Operating Plan & Budget were published for public comment on 7 December 2021.
      • Two community webinars will be held on 8 December 2021 to provide an overview of the draft plans and to help the community to gain a deeper awareness and understanding of the draft plans and how they affect the FY21-25 Strategic Plan.
      • FY23 IANA Operating Plan & Budget to be proposed to the Board Finance Committee/Board for adoption in January/February 2022.

      ICANN org also provided an overview of how the FY23 Strategic Outlook trends recommendations were considered in the FY23 Draft Operating Plan. ICANN org noted that, after careful consideration of the inputs received from the community and the organization through the strategic outlook trend identification process, planning elements relating to previously identified trends that remain consistent were kept unchanged, including all operating initiatives. Tactical recommendations from the trend impact assessment were taken into account in the Draft FY23 Operating Plan. For example, in relation to the "Security-DNS Abuse" trend, the plan has been updated to include additional external resources for extension of statistical analysis of DNS abuse in gTLDs, as well as an added responsibility to lead ICANN org's coordinated efforts related to mitigating DNS security threats and combating DNS abuse.

    2. Preparation for FY24 planning process: The planning has also begun for FY24 through FY28. The annual Strategic Outlook trends identification process will begin in January 2022; and sessions will be held with ICANN org, the Board and the community between January and March 2022 (virtually). The next steps include:

      • March 2022 : Board trend identification session
      • July 2022: Review of trend analysis and impact assessment
      • September 2022: Finalization of strategy recommendations (decision to update the Strategic Plan, subject to Board approval).

      The Chair reiterated that the Board has the obligation to ensure that the adopted Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2021-2025 continues to meet ICANN's needs; and the role of the SPC is to oversee the annual strategic outlook trends process to identify relevant trends and events that inform ICANN's strategic planning and prioritization efforts and the annual review of the Strategic Plan.

      The Chair further commented that between the Strategic Plan, which is a living document that is continually monitored and updated (as necessary), and the mid-period evaluation of ICANN's strategic objectives, the SPC will possess a good understanding of the relevance and importance of the areas identified in the Strategic Plan against the progress of the Board towards achieving the goals of the Strategic Plan.

  4. Board Strategic Planning Sessions

    1. Review of process and outcomes from the pilot Board Strategic objectives session (mid-cycle evaluation of ICANN's strategic objective on Financials) which was held on 10 September 2021:

      ICANN org provided a snapshot of the process developed for mid-period evaluation of strategic objectives (e.g. session preparation, session facilitation and post-session work).

      ICANN org shared the consolidated findings from the pilot with the SPC members, and such findings will contribute to the formation of strategic thinking going into the next strategic plan development process. ICANN org enumerated some of the main themes discussed during the pilot, such as:

      • relevancy of DNS (value, cost, and demand of domain names -vs- other emerging tech);
      • consequences of Domain Name Industry evolutions; and
      • sustainability of ICANN's financials (growing demands and costs -vs- plateauing fundings).

      ICANN org clarified that in relation to the Strategic Outlook trend identification process, it focuses on trend analysis and identification of notable shifts in trends or new trends and their impacts on ICANN. Therefore, if a trend has not evolved from the previous year, and even if it is a high-priority trend, in the context of the trends exercise, there is no evolution to this trend and the shift for this year is determined as low materiality. The trend continues to be a priority, and relevant initiatives are being addressed by ICANN org, but the trend itself is not evolving in such a way that warrants a new action.

      The Chair commented that there may be some issues/themes which impact more broadly across the five strategic objectives under the Strategic Plan (e.g. Evolution of the Multistakeholder Model); and such issues/themes may be taken into consideration in the next round of strategic planning.

    2. Proposed schedule of next Board Strategic Planning sessions: ICANN org presented an overview of the tentative Board Strategic Planning Sessions over the next 18 months. At the January Board Workshop, the SPC will facilitate a strategy session on "Prioritizing FY22/FY23 Board Decisions"; and the next mid-cycle evaluation session in May 2022 may potentially focus on Geopolitics.

      Deep dive sessions will be scheduled as needed, in lieu of a mid-cycle evaluation and extra preparation time is required. Based on the tentative timeline for the proposed strategic planning sessions, the Chair is cognizant of the fact that a substantial amount of work is required for the SPC and ICANN org over the next 18 months.

  5. Other Items

    1. Board oversight of the work on Evolving ICANN's Multistakeholder Model: Further to the SPC's discussion on this topic at its previous meeting in October 2021, the Chair updated the SPC that in relation to the ongoing discussions relating to the Board's operational priorities, one of the Board's short-term operational priorities is to move the work on Evolving ICANN's Multistakeholder Model under the purview of Board Committees. Therefore, pursuant to a coordination meeting held on 30 November 2021 among the Evolving ICANN's Multistakeholder Model project shepherds, the SPC and OEC Chairs and ICANN org, the following was agreed:

      • the SPC will have oversight of the work on Evolving ICANN's Multistakeholder Model;
      • the SPC Chair will discuss with the project shepherds to ensure their continued participation in the project while not currently being a member of the SPC;
      • the OEC will have a significant participation in the oversight of the work on Evolving ICANN's Multistakeholder Model; and that the scope of the work includes, but is broader than, the monitoring of effectiveness improvements resulting from evolving the reviews process.

      The Chair noted that, from the Board's perspective, the SPC's oversight of the work on Evolving ICANN's Multistakeholder Model reinforces and fits naturally within the SPC's responsibilities – it fits under section II.B of the SPC charter: "Coordination with the Board and the committees thereof to confirm that these priorities are being addressed on appropriate and effective timeframes".

    2. Preparation for Upcoming January Board Session: Prioritizing FY22-FY23 Board Decisions: The Chair provided a brief overview of the upcoming January Board session, which will be held during the January Board Workshop. The Chair reiterated the importance of this session, which aims to assess:

      • what the Board intends to accomplish over the period;
      • what can be achieved given Board resources and time constraints; and
      • for the Board to align and obtain clarity on prioritizing all the strategic decisions that the Board needs to make during the next 12 to 18 months.

      It is anticipated that the SPC members will facilitate the discussions. ICANN org clarified that there are some "duties" of the Board and its committees which are not subject to prioritization (e.g. appointment of auditors). The format/structure of the session is in the midst of being finalized. The Chair encouraged the SPC members to provide suggestions and input on how the session should be structured.

      The Chair reiterated the importance of the session not only for the Board to have clarity on what it needs to prioritize, but also for the community to understand the Board's priorities, and to improve the Board's engagement with the community. Given that the Board Caucus Group on DNS Abuse was established recently, and that this topic is a key issue for the community, it may potentially be discussed during the January Board session and prioritized.

The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 21 February 2022