2014-05-28

The broken ICANN culture, Kieren McCarthy 2012 analysis

The case study that could kill ICANN | .Nxt | Internet policy and governance"ICANN is organizationally misconfigured to deal with the demands of 22, let alone 1,022 Internet registries... the first instinct of the organization is to hide from this fact, even to the extent that it will willfully ignore serious flaws in its systems, and flagrant breaches of contract. That is why the dot-jobs case study could kill ICANN."

Kieren McCarthy, a former ICANN employee, is a wonderful blogger to follow on all ICANN (and other) issues. Below is an excerpt from a 2012 post, still (unfortunately) relevant today:

My analysis of the broken ICANN culture | Kieren McCarthy [dotcom]: "I wrote an extensive review of the dot-jobs saga earlier this week on .Nxt called: The case study that could kill ICANN.... this is the real problem: a very large number of people now know exactly what has happened and how bad it is. But what will happen? How will anyone be held to account? Will anyone even admit publicly that this is an example of poor governance?...The best anyone can expect is that some Board members will dig into the issue... If a Board member continues to push, they will find themselves under pressure by other Board members: why are you pushing this so hard? Their motives will be impugned and they will find themselves given the cold shoulder by staff. They will find themselves being briefed against on the Board and in the community (and there are a few Board members that can testify to this)... they certainly won’t want to embarrass the staff or ICANN: that would only aid the organization’s enemies, and it would only encourage people to do-down the organization. So no one will say anything publicly. And then you’ll find that absolutely nothing changes. And when no one follows up on the lack of change (because it was never written down or made public), the impact will be to reinforce the reality that there is no actual accountability. Now, the staff are not *bad people* – I worked there for years and have a lot of respect for them and the job they do: they work hard, deal with a lot of stress in a complex situation and they keep a smiling public face despite it all. However, over time the wrong culture has developed and it is *that* which is demonstrated time and again in this dot-jobs issue. When you add up all the small, wrong decisions being made for the wrong (self-serving) reasons, you are left with a pretty poorly functioning organizationThis is why the calls for improved transparency and accountability continue to cry out, again and again, year after year.... Until ICANN is forced to admit it is wrong on occasionUntil someone is publicly disgraced to set as an example for what is not acceptable. And until ICANN recognizes that the longer it keeps screw-ups ‘in the family’, the more this damaging culture will be reinforced, nothing will change... So how do you fix an institutional problem? It’s not that hard in reality. First, you stop making excuses and acknowledge that there is a problem. And then you hold a proper public review of yourself where the truth, warts an’ all, is allowed to come out. That is what happens in properly functioning democracies – the unpleasant truths are pulled out in public. And things are always better off as a result. I’m not holding my breath though." (read  more at the links above, emphasis added)


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