[council] Council as process manager

Mike O'Connor mike at haven2.com
Sat Nov 30 22:31:10 UTC 2013

i'd like to join this parade. and add a couple of ideas to the discussion.

a wise colleague educated me about the profound difference between project management and functional management.  projects have a beginning, middle, end and party.  functions are things that are managed with the idea that they will be doing roughly the same thing for a long time.  i think that distinction is one way to think about the difference between the Council (the functional manager of an ongoing policy-making process) and the working groups it sponsors (which are projects that are managed by Chairs and staff).  i like Avri's list because it begins to catalog things that we, as functional managers, ought to be doing.  here are a few more items for the list.

launch and wrap up working groups

this first one is the one that skates right to the edge of the difference between a legislative and managerial body.  as a Council, we accept the finished product of working groups that we've launched.  that means that sometimes we may conclude that the work isn't done yet.  in that case, i'm in the "send the work back to the working group to be completed" camp rather than the "complete the work FOR the working group" view.  

celebrate working-group workers and work 

when the WG report is done, we accept it.  and we should celebrate it.   we should go out of our way to acknowledge and congratulate the people who've done all that work.  we should figure out ways to reward all that effort so that people will return to do more of it.  i'm for recognition -- parties, buttons, bling, awards, plaques, pictures, handshakes, announcements, press releases, etc.  indeed, it should be our hope that we approve all the reports that working groups bring to us -- a rubber stamp, if you will.  but when we give it our approval, we should do more than apply the rubber stamp -- we should take the time and opportunity to show how well the WG process (that we are stewards of) is functioning.  this, after all, is the process and model upon which our collective credibility lies.  

increase the size of the pool of capable participants

it seems to me that WE are the body that is responsible for ensuring that we have a broad and deep pool of capable participants in working groups.  sure, all those administration efforts (global outreach, digital engagement, etc.) are charged with increasing ICANN's reach, but we're the customer of those efforts and we could help them by being more actively engaged. 

we are also customers of our respective constituencies and stakeholder groups -- since that's where WG participants call home when they're not on a WG.  that's also the target of the "inreach" process.  it's where new people are familiarized with the process and policy issues of the GNSO.  and where people could be groomed, in small steps, to be effective participants in the WG setting.  so i think we also need to champion SG/Constituency efforts to recruit, retain, grow, polish and prepare participants for the WG process.  

ensure roughly equal effectiveness across all SG's

from the Council perspective, i'd like to see all Constituencies and SG's be equally effective in providing good folks for WGs.  otherwise we're supervising a process that has systemic imbalances between strong and weak participation depending on point of view, resource availability, etc.  there are a number of interesting puzzlers in this one.  who better than us to figure those out?

i can go on and on like this, but you get the idea.  i agree with Avri and Chuck that there's a lot of interesting, and essential, work that we get to do as the managers of the policy-development process.   


On Nov 30, 2013, at 10:10 AM, "Gomes, Chuck" <cgomes at verisign.com> wrote:

> Thank you very much for this very excellent message Avri.  I definitely do not think you are wrong on this.
> As most of you know, I have been a strong advocate for the policy management role of the Council in contrast to a legislative role and I still am.  But I think I tended to minimize the management role instead of emphasizing its significance.  These thoughts by Avri motivate me and hopefully all of us to realize the importance of the policy management role and to strive to perform it better.
> Chuck
> From: owner-council at gnso.icann.org [mailto:owner-council at gnso.icann.org] On Behalf Of Avri Doria
> Sent: Saturday, November 30, 2013 10:50 AM
> To: Council GNSO
> Subject: [council] Council as process manager
> Hi,
> During the one day session we had in BA, I spoke of the managerial role of the council as its primary, though not only, role. Several people seemed to equate that, with me advocating a rubber stamp process.
> I do not see it that way at all. I see the managerial role as difficult and challenging. But perhaps I should explain what I mean by a council doing the management of process role.
> I believe that the well accepted adage, a meme if you like, is that with the last reorganization we moved away from a legislative council to a management council. Management of a policy process is a difficult and involved task.
> For example when i think of a managerial process i think:
> it involves careful observation of the process by the liaison looking for issues that need to be remedied before they become significant. Whether it is an issue of insufficient diversity or the inability of a chair to understand the points made by a member or faction in the WG. And it involves work to ameliorate the situation. Perhaps by the liaison alone and perhaps with the help of others in council.
> I can also imagine many times when a WG wastes weeks trying to understand what the council meant by "it may recommend x" in is charter, the liaison could bring the question to the council for discussion and elucidation - they don't need to wait for the WG to surrender to confusion and ask; liaisons can work pro-actively to help (to be clear, help in a neutral supportive manner, not direct).
> It involves reading a lot of issues reports, draft reports etc... .With sufficient understanding to ask the critical questions and to make sure the implications are understood as well as they can be. We need to understand the issues, of our SG/C a well as of the community in general, well enough to ask the questions others may ask and make sure those answers are contained in the reports.
> It involves the vision and cottage of sending issues back to WGs, when something needs further work or when the ICANN consensus seems weak or ambiguous.
> It involves doing the WG post analysis to understand what might need to happen to make future working groups better/easier, less of a forced march.
> It may also include understanding the processes we need to follow when the Board sends back one of our recommendations for further consideration, something we hope they will do rather than deciding issues at their own pleasure.
> This is the sort of stuff I thought the council would be doing in its new role, and to me it looks like a significant , not rubber stamp, type of role. I thought we were responsible for making sure our process works and it's defended (another one of our roles)
> Though perhaps I am wrong and this is not what we needed to learn from our last review/reorg, in which case than it might be a topic for our review ToR.
> Avri Doria

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