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Minutes | Meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Board (SPC) | 7 March 2023

SPC Attendees: Matthew Shears – Chair, Becky Burr, Maarten Botterman, Avri Doria, James Galvin and Wes Hardaker

SPC Apologies: Edmon Chung, Christian Kaufmann and Sajid Rahman

Observers: Danko Jevtovic, Patricio Poblete 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) and Becky Nash (VP, Planning)


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

The meeting was called to order at 14:30 UTC.

  1. Agenda – The Chair established the agenda for the meeting and gave an overview of items to be discussed.
  2. Review of the SPC Charter – Prior to the meeting, the Chair requested the SPC members to review the SPC Charter to evaluate whether the language requires modification (e.g., to make the Charter more reflective of the SPC's roles and responsibilities). The Chair shared via email proposed revisions to the SPC Charter, to reflect a more active role for the SPC, as appropriate, and consideration of specific coordination points with the Organizational Effectiveness Committee (OEC).

    The SPC will continue its discussion on this topic at its future meetings.

    • Action Item:

      • ICANN organization to share its observations/notes with the Board Governance Committee (BGC) in relation to proposed language that is common across the various Board Committees' charters.
  3. Review of SPC Workplan and Meeting Cadence - A brief summary of the SPC's workplan was reviewed, which sets out the SPC's scope of responsibilities and relevant timelines for performance of its work.

    In response to a query from the SPC on the timing and process involved for the development of the next Five-Year Strategic Plan, the Chair noted that previously, the whole process took 18 months to complete. ICANN org will update the SPC once the timeline has been finalized, to enable the SPC to discuss in-depth the components and the development of the Strategic Plan, the enhanced involvement of the community, etc.

    James Galvin reiterated that the Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) is keen to contribute towards the Strategic Plan and therefore, the SSAC will have to consider the timeline involved when planning its work calendar.

    • Action Item:

      • The Chair to inform the leadership of the CEO Search Committee that if the SPC is able to prioritize its work on the FY25 Strategic Outlook Trends identification process in time then it can share input on the strategic needs of ICANN to assist in the CEO search (this may take the SPC work out of its expected cadence).
  4. FY25 Strategic Outlook Program Update – ICANN org provided a brief update on the FY25 strategic outlook program. 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 program, 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.

    Pursuant to the FY24 planning process, ICANN org considered the feedback received from the SPC and made some improvements as follows:

    Phase 1: Trend Identification Sessions

    The trend identification sessions are well received but two aspects can be improved:

    • Add more education about ICANN's Strategic Plan; and
    • Encourage a longer-term view of the trends by indicating a 3–5 year horizon.

    Phase 2: Trend Analysis

    Improve the analysis step to incorporate both quantitative and qualitative data to get a true sense of the trends.

    • In addition to presenting the data collected, need to add "context" to the data for the analysis which results in an informed analysis.

    Phase 3: Impact Assessment

    The impact assessment, which is the "key" of the program, to be discussed at a more strategic level.

    • Lack of critical evaluation leads us to make decision based on the "what" and not the "why".

    Pursuant to ICANN org's update, the Chair summarized the key points which have been discussed by the SPC previously:

    • How to get input on a longer period than the 3-5 years?
    • Results of the trends identification sessions conducted were collected and analyzed within the planning cycle period – how do we incorporate input/feedback that falls outside the planning cycle period? and
    • How to minimize the amount of work for ICANN org and the SPC, and make the work more streamlined?
  5. Update on the Planning Prioritization Framework – ICANN org provided an update on this topic. The Planning Prioritization framework is intended to serve as a fundamental base to guide the prioritization process during the annual planning process. The framework describes and outlines what to prioritize, who will prioritize, when to prioritize, and how. ICANN org briefed the SPC on the revised framework (v3) which incorporates clarification of the process in the following areas:

    • Scope of activities: In v3, text was added indicating that previously prioritized activities that have not been worked on for over two years are eligible to be re-prioritized.
    • Participants: In v3, the description of the role of Board Liaisons was clarified.
    • Frequency: The Community Planning Prioritization Group remains available until a new Planning Prioritization Group is formed; in the event a mid-year planning prioritization process is needed.
    • Appendix: The appendix was removed which summarized the community consultations during the development of the framework.
    • Planning Prioritization Process flow (figure 3): v3 was updated to include revisions to the step for the SO/AC leaders and chairs to confirm the nomination of their members.

    ICANN org intends to publish v3 on the ICANN wiki:

    • This will mark the closure of the FY24 Planning Prioritization Process; and
    • An email will be sent to the Planning Prioritization Group members and the Finance and Planning Community email list.

    ICANN org is also preparing to initiate the FY25 Planning Prioritization Group membership formation and process. The proposed timeline is as follows:

    • By End March : Community group member nominations due
    • By mid-April : Complete the Planning Prioritization Group set up
    • Mid-April to May : Planning prioritization sessions
    • June : Wrap-up and lessons learned

    Some observations from the SPC include:

    • The SPC commented that it would be beneficial for ICANN org to carry out an analysis of the prioritized work over the last two years to ascertain the effectiveness of the Planning Prioritization process.
    • The SPC determine how to handle a topic that was not in the prioritization scope because it was not yet approved by the Board – how does this impact the process and address the overall need for prioritization? How often do we need to undertake this process?

    The Chair encouraged the SPC members to volunteer as Board Liaisons to the FY25 Planning Prioritization Group.

  6. Any Other Business

    • Proposed Board Operational Priorities: Improving ICANN's Ecological Footprint – In the foreseeable future, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) oversight will increasingly become part of the fiduciary duties of the Board. Thus, it is timely to start thinking about ICANN's ecological footprint and explore:
    • What is the ecological impact of ICANN's work to the world?
    • What can we do to improve ICANN's ecological footprint? and
    • How can ICANN ensure transparency on ESG issues?

    As a first step, a suggestion is for ICANN to explore how it can reduce its global footprint of travel, while still making sure it continues to deliver its mission. ICANN, in collaboration with the community, may also consider exploring opportunities to reduce its ecological footprint such as the ecological footprint of its offices and data centers.

    The Chair reiterated that ESG is a strategic priority for many organizations, and it would be remiss of the Board not to consider this as ICANN goes into the next cycle for the Strategic Plan.

    Danko Jevtovic emphasized the importance of this initiative and noted that the best approach would be the ESG discussion outside of the Board's Operational Priorities context for now – the SPC is a good place to begin the discussion as it is a forward-looking committee.

    The Chair thanked Maarten Botterman for initiating the discussion at the SPC level. Given the breadth of the topic, the SPC agreed for the work to be carried out within the SPC at this juncture, and thereafter for the SPC to present a proposal to the Board to enable the Board to make an informed decision on how to move forward.

    • Action Item:

      • The SPC to prepare a proposal to the Board to enable the Board to make an informed decision on how to move forward.

The Chair called the meeting to a close.

Published on 10 November 2023