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Minutes | Meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Board (SPC) 21 April 2022

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

Observers: Mandla Msimang 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), Negar Farzinnia (Director, Implementation Operations), Becky Nash (VP, Planning), Wendy Profit (Board Operations Senior Manager), Giovanni Seppia (VP, Implementation Operations) and Theresa Swinehart (SVP, Global Domains and Strategy).

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

The meeting was called to order at 14:00 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 - ICANN organization provided a brief summary of the SPC's workplan, which sets out the SPC's scope of responsibilities and the relevant timelines. It is anticipated that the SPC will conduct several additional preparatory meetings in June/July 2022 to prepare for the ongoing mid-cycle evaluation for the Board strategy sessions. The Chair noted that it would be prudent for the SPC to review the SPC's charter at its next meeting. The SPC meetings that are scheduled for July and September 2022 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 (as necessary), to encapsulate the SPC's additional responsibilities.

  3. Board Strategy Prioritization Session – ICANN org provided an update to the SPC on the follow up actions from the previous Board Strategy Prioritization session.

    Follow up actions:

    1. Short-term Actions: ICANN org to propose a process to integrate the Board prioritization worksheet into a workplan review process to ensure decision-making once an activity has been prioritized.

      ICANN org has been tasked to formulate a process for reviewing and monitoring Board priorities within the Board workplan:

      • ICANN org to provide status of the detailed plans and planned timing for P1 activities.
      • Further analysis of the P2 (and P3, P4) activities.
      • A process for workplan review and monitoring to be presented to the SPC.

      ICANN org recapped the list of activities that were evaluated and prioritized by the SPC and proposed to the Board in March 2022, highlighting that there are four activities that are listed as P1 (highest priority); nine activities that are listed as P2; six activities that are listed as P3; and eight activities that are listed as P4. ICANN org will incorporate a rolling view of how the categories of the prioritized activities evolve over periods of time.

    2. Board Work Prioritization – Four Highest Priorities: ICANN org provided a snapshot of the four activities that the Board ranked as the highest priority (P1) to demonstrate where each activity exists in the workplan and other dependencies that may contribute to the workplan:

      • Board Oversight of the DNS Security Threat Mitigation Program;
      • Board Decision on Next Steps for System for Standardized Access/Disclosure to Nonpublic Generic Top-Level Domain Registration Data (SSAD);
      • Board Direction on the New Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) Subsequent Procedures (SubPro) Operational Design Assessment (ODA); and
      • Board Oversight of the org Planning Prioritization Framework.

      ICANN org also presented a proposal through which the Board's strategic activities are integrated into the Board's broader workplan, in order to present a better calendar view of how work is progressing. The SPC discussed, and agreed, that it would be useful for the proposed integrated list to include all the Board's prioritized activities (P1-P4) to ensure that all strategic activities are captured and monitored. ICANN org agreed that while the activities are weighted differently, having visibility on each activity in the same format is practical. The integrated list would enable the SPC to understand the work from the beginning to the different stages, as well as the different roles and responsibilities played by ICANN org, the community and the Board. The proposed integrated list also provides an overview of how to consolidate the strategic activities into an overall Board plan, focusing on the different stages of work which require the Board's involvement.

      In relation to the Board priorities, ICANN org presented several short-term discussion points, for the SPC's consideration:

      • How to make prioritization for the Board a sustainable process? ICANN org recommended a full review of all work annually. A status of progress and evaluation of priorities including new urgent items at least every six months or based on urgency.
      • New items of high priority could result in changing the number of P1s; also, some activities will need to be deprioritized. The completion of P1 activities could result in moving activities up from P2 to P1.
      • Where does this process fit into the ICANN planning process? There is an opportunity to communicate on the Board's priorities and ensuring alignment of the community/Board/ICANN org on priorities is a next step.

      The SPC agreed to conduct a comprehensive review of the priorities annually, and to rely on ICANN org's regular reporting to the SPC on any changes to the prioritized activities/order of priorities. ICANN org will highlight to the SPC if there is a need to reprioritize activities, and ensure that work progresses and that the priorities are linked to the Strategic Plan. The SPC concurred that monitoring the volume and rate of change of the prioritized activities will be useful for future oversight and to evaluate the changes over time.

      In terms of a longer-term action discussion item for the SPC, ICANN org will formulate a framework for prioritization in the broader ecosystem linked to the Strategic Plan, as the Board prioritization process needs to fit within the prioritization and planning process of the community and ICANN org. This work will start during the FY24 planning cycle. Furthermore, the lessons learnt from the prioritization framework pilot will also contribute to the design and integration of the framework as ICANN is moving into the FY24 planning cycle. 

      • Action Item:

        • In relation to the proposed integrated list to include all the prioritized activities, ICANN org to make some modifications, incorporating the SPC's suggestions. ICANN org to circulate a revised draft of the proposed integrated list to the SPC in due course.
  4. Board Strategy Session: Strategic Sessions Mid Cycle Evaluation: Schedule and Strategic Objective Geopolitics – ICANN org provided a brief overview of the upcoming mid-period evaluation of ICANN's strategic objective on Geopolitics, which will be held during the May Board Workshop (with the other strategic objectives' mid-period evaluation to be conducted in the subsequent months). ICANN org reiterated the importance of the Board Strategy session, as part of the SPC's workplan, to better embed strategic planning within the Board and to stay apprised of ICANN's Strategic Plan and be forward thinking, and to identify opportunities and threats through risk assessment. If needed, deep dive sessions on specific topics may be considered.

    In terms of the order of the topics scheduled for mid-period evaluation, Financials was chosen as the pilot in September 2021. Geopolitics was chosen as the next session. The remaining topics have been scheduled based on the ICANN org teams involved, to ensure that the sessions do not conflict with other engagements and to enable the relevant teams to prepare background materials, etc. Nevertheless, the Chair noted that the schedule can be adjusted if there are any pressing issues around the remaining topics which may warrant a change in the order.

    For the upcoming Board Strategy session, the SPC Chair will provide a brief introduction to the session, and ICANN org will provide a presentation to demonstrate the current progress made against ICANN's Strategic Plan. The SPC members will facilitate a brainstorming session, which will be followed by a wrap-up/conclusion session. ICANN org will seek feedback and input from the SPC after the session. The Chair encouraged the SPC members who did not lead the discussion during the brainstorming sessions for Financials to lead the discussion for the upcoming session; and urged the SPC members to prepare and complete the pre-reading materials prior to the session.

    Based on the pilot on Financials, the Chair reiterated the importance of ensuring that the Board is able to measure the current progress made against the strategic priorities of the Board, as well as planning ahead for the next strategic planning process. He emphasized that it is useful to know what particular steps have been taken to move towards achieving particular goal (for a goal that has not been met but is underway).

  5. 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 2019 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 with the top three being:

    • Prioritization of the work and sufficient use of resources
    • Precision in scoping the work
    • Consensus, representation and inclusivity.

    The "Enhancing Effectiveness of ICANN's Multistakeholder Model" paper, published in October 2020, lays out a path forward that encompasses existing work efforts and maps a course that can facilitate continuous improvement of ICANN's multistakeholder model. In the course of the discussions between ICANN org, the Board and the community, it was agreed to formulate an evaluation methodology to assess the ongoing projects and activities that fall under each priority area. ICANN org updated the SPC that the design of the methodology has been completed and an Action Plan has been prepared to move forward with the next steps. ICANN org has begun communicating with internal/external stakeholders about the Action Plan. A session will be held with the SO/AC at the end of April 2022, and a webinar will be held during ICANN74 prep week to obtain feedback on the Action Plan.

    The SPC suggested, and ICANN org agreed, to consider elements to measure change on a longer-term analysis, on a project-by-project basis.

    The Chair noted that the timeline of the proposed next steps is aligned with the mid-cycle review of the strategic priority on Governance. A significant number of projects that ICANN implements and builds as a community and that the Board approves relate to the ongoing discussions on the multistakeholder model.

    • Action Item:

      • ICANN org to present the evaluation methodology in detail at the SPC's next meeting. Given that the methodology is currently being applied to selected projects, ICANN org may also be able to share some data relating to some of the projects.
  6. Any Other Business

    • The Chair requested for SPC members to volunteer and participate in more detailed discussions on the multistakeholder model, from the context of the role of the SPC, and in anticipation of the mid-cycle evaluation on Governance).
    • The Chair reminded the SPC of the relevant SPC sessions during the upcoming May Board Workshop.

The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 20 July 2022