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Minutes | Board Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) Meeting

SPC Attendees: Matthew Shears – Chair, Becky Burr, Danko Jevtović, Ihab Osman, Nigel Roberts, León Sánchez and Tripti Sinha

SPC Apologies: Ron da Silva and Lito Ibarra

Observers: Avri Doria and Manal Ismail

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 (Chief Security, Stability & Resilience Officer), Samantha Eisner (Deputy General Counsel), John Jeffrey (General Counsel & Secretary), Becky Nash (VP, Planning), Theresa Swinehart (SVP, Global Domains and Strategy) and Nathalie Vergnolle (Director, Planning).


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

The meeting was called to order at 20:00 UTC.

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

  2. FY23 Strategic Outlook Trends Analysis and Impact Assessment: Proposed Board Action – Further to the SPC's discussion on this topic at its meeting on 7 September 2021, the objective of this agenda item is for the SPC to review the revised draft FY23 Trend Report (which has been modified to address and/or incorporate the SPC's comments and edits), with a view to formulate a recommendation to the Board on the Strategic Outlook Trends Analysis and Impact Assessment exercise and its impact, if any, on the 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 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.

    ICANN organization provided a summary of the approach employed for the trend identification process:

    • Trend analysis and identification of notable shifts in trends or new trends and their impacts on ICANN.
    • Evaluation and determination of the materiality and the immediacy of the impacts of the trends identified.
    • Preliminary, systematic assessment using a materiality/ immediacy decision matrix (indicative only).
    • Decision of strategic or tactical opportunities:
      1. Strategic assessment results in recommendation to evolve strategic plan (subject to SPC recommendation); and
      2. Tactical assessment results in recommendation to take short-term (current fiscal year plan) actions and/or to consider in the next fiscal year operating plan.

    Pursuant to the comments/input received from the SPC at its previous meeting, ICANN org highlighted some of the edits made to the conclusions of the FY23 Trend Report across five focus areas: security, unique identifier systems, governance, geopolitics and financials.

    Some observations and feedback from the SPC include:

    • Unique Identifier Systems – Universal Acceptance: The SPC noted that this is a pre-existing trend, and the interest to address Universal Acceptance continues to increase, in anticipation of the implementation of the next round of gTLDs. Whilst no change is necessary to be made the Strategic Plan and the Operating Plan, for the tactical recommendation "The new gTLD Subsequent Procedures Operational Design Phase (ODP) will have a specific section on Universal Acceptance", ICANN org clarified that the teams who are leading the work on the ODP are aware of the trends and concerns that were raised as part of the trends exercise and their work will take into consideration such feedback, respectively.
    • Financials – Prioritization: This trend has not evolved from the previous year, and it has been assessed as "low materiality". ICANN org clarified that although this is a high-priority trend, in the context of the trends exercise, there is no evolution to this trend and that is why the shift for this year is determined as low materiality. This 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.

    ICANN org noted that, based on analysis and consideration of the shifts identified during the trends exercise, the shifts are relevant to be considered for potential adjustments of the Operating Plan, but such shifts do not require a change of the strategic objectives and goals included in the Strategic Plan. Tactical recommendations from the trend impact assessment will be accounted for in the Draft FY23 Operating Plan, which will be posted for Public Comment in December 2021.

    The SPC concluded its discussion on this topic. The SPC approved a recommendation to the Board confirming that the current ICANN Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2021-2025 remains unchanged, with no restatement of the Strategic Plan needed at this time. The SPC recognizes that there may be future needs to evolve the Strategic Plan, such as to address the funding realities identified through the update of ICANN's five-year Operating and Financial Plan, or mid-course modifications during the life of the Strategic Plan. The SPC makes its recommendation to the Board based on work accomplished by the SPC as supported by ICANN org, and after careful consideration of the inputs received from the community and the organization through the strategic outlook trends identification process.

    The final FY23 Trend Report and FY23 -FY27 Draft Operating and Financial Plans will be published respectively in November and December 2021. Going forward, the Chair reiterated the importance of the SPC having an opportunity to review and engage in a discussion on the proposed adjustments, and requested ICANN org to ensure that the SPC will have the opportunity to review the proposed adjustments that have been identified to the five-year Operating Plan.

    • Action Item:
      • ICANN org to ensure that as part of the SPC's future meeting(s), to include an agenda item for the SPC to review the proposed adjustments that have been identified to the five-year Operating Plan; as well as to incorporate this item as part of the SPC's communication plan with the community.
  3. Debrief of Pilot Board Strategic Objectives Session: Financials – ICANN org provided a debrief of the pilot Board Strategic objectives session (mid-cycle evaluation of ICANN's strategic objective on Financials) which was held on 10 September 2021. Findings from the pilot are being consolidated by ICANN org and will be shared with the SPC in due course, and such findings will contribute to the formation of strategic thinking going into the next strategic plan development process.

    ICANN org enumerated some initial feedback received on the pilot.

    Positive feedback:

    • A useful session for the Board.
    • Focusing on one strategic objective at a time is beneficial.
    • The right level of detail to present the information.
    • A valuable linkage of key achievements to Targeted Outcomes. It would also be useful to present the mitigation efforts against Strategic Risks.
    • Breakout sessions were appreciated.
    • The pre-formatted questions were helpful to initiate the discussions (but it should be clear that not all questions need to be addressed).

    Suggestions for improvement:

    • More time should be allotted for Board discussions (for both Q&A and brainstorming).
    • It would be beneficial to know the authors of specific comments/input.
    • To confirm how the outputs will be used, and by whom; and to provide a debrief to assess which of the elements raised were already being considered by ICANN org.
    • To assess the number and type of sessions conducted per year.

    The Chair reiterated that the pilot was the first of the mid-cycle evaluation of each of ICANN's five strategic objectives.

    ICANN org also presented some proposed adjustments to the Board Strategic Planning Sessions program, for the SPC's consideration:

    • To extend each session from 90 minutes to 120 minutes.
    • To keep mid-cycle evaluations, one objective at a time, two to three sessions per year.
    • To make deep-dives optional, on an "as-needed" basis.
    • An annual review of the strategic plan is not needed as a Board strategic engagement event. ICANN org to produce and share with the SPC and the Board an annual summary report on progress towards meeting the goals of the strategic plan, using the to-be-developed assessment framework, for information purposes.
    • Next Board strategic planning session:
      • January 2022 (during Board workshop)
      • Strategic Objective: to be identified

    ICANN org further shared an overview of the tentative Board Strategic Planning Sessions over the next 18 months. The Chair suggested the next mid-cycle evaluation session in January 2022 could focus on Geopolitics; and sought feedback from the SPC members if they have any other suggestions.

  4. Any Other Business – The Chair updated the SPC that in relation to the ongoing discussions on the Board's operational priorities, the work on the "Evolution of the Multistakeholder Model" needs to be better structured and thus, one of the Board's short-term operational priorities is to move this work under the purview of Board Committees. Subject to further discussions and agreement by the Board, this work could potentially fall under the SPC (from the strategic perspective) and the Organizational Effectiveness Committee (from an operational perspective).

The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 26 October 2021

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