Fixing ICANN: Step 2
September 22, 2010
If ICANN seriously wants to attain
effective self-management, it must go beyond its stated objectives
and confront two areas it has so far ignored: development and implementation
of mindset-changing solutions as well as formal performance measures.
ICANN has a major shakeup in mind for the domain name market—the
plan to launch new TLDs, to take one example, represents a structural
change to the industry ecosystem.
People who have been shaken up tend
to want an explanation as to why, but ICANN hasn’t provided
one. Instead it has simply presented its initiatives as technical
Successful companies, whether established
or startups, relay new messages to their stakeholders by presenting
motivational springboard stories that usher listeners into a new
world. They don’t treat technical solutions as enough in themselves
to bring success. They know that implementing is only half the job;
you also need to change minds.
ICANN has yet to learn that lesson.
Instead of simply announcing that there will be new TLDs, it must
tell stakeholders why the world will be better because of the new
TLDs. It must provide the vision that goes with the new order.
For ICANN to succeed in meeting its objectives, it must also develop
formal performance measures, including measures that capture changes
in stakeholders’ mindset.
Publicly traded companies can tell
how they’re doing by a look at their stock price. Management
behavior is disciplined and guided by the feedback. But ICANN doesn’t
have that advantage and must develop and monitor appropriate performance
measures of its own.
Of course, any attempt to do so faces
The presence of multi-stakeholders with conflicting
interests. Devising a simple, coherent customer-focused strategy
becomes difficult when there is no typical customer with a typical
set of needs to be protected.
The inadequacy of any standardized performance
metrics, since a good performance measure for one company is
not necessarily good for another.
The inadequacy of informal, network-driven
initiatives when dealing with an organization of ICANN’s
are real but can be tackled, as can the job of developing a way
to continuously monitor and challenge the assumptions behind ICANN’s
objectives and performance measures. For now, however, the organization
is flying blind.