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All Things Internet™ since 1999


A Step Towards Change on the CIRA Board

CIRA’s Board of Directors Nominating Committee have published their slate of Candidates for the upcoming election. These candidates will stand alongside member nominated Candidates in a ballot later this year.

Understandably, the Nominating Committee doesn’t publish any details of its deliberations so we don’t know who the committee may have turned away. We only know who they selected. That said, I find it telling that of the four current Directors eligible for re-election – John King, Victoria Withers, Barry Shell and Jim Grey, only John King was selected by the Nominating Committee.

Now, that could be because the other three didn’t apply to the Nominating Committee preferring instead to let their term lapse or pursue a spot on the Member’s ballot. Or it could be that they applied and weren’t selected. We can’t know for sure, however for someone who has serious intent to pursue re-election to the Board, apply through the Nominating Committee gives them two chances to be selected – once by the Nominating Committee, and if they are unsuccessful, they can reapply for a nominating through the Members slate.

My gut says that all four directors applied to the Nominating Committee and only one was selected. Having served with John King during my term on the Board, I think the Nominating Committee made a good choice. Did they give Grey, Withers and Shell the thumbs down? We’ll never know for certain and its definitely a question I intend to explore further if any of them decide to run on the Member’s ballot.

The final selections of the Nominating Committee are;

Ward Chapin
Dave Chiswell
Robert Brouillette
Carole Mackaay
Hank Intven
William Gibson (no, the other one)
John King
Bill Sandiford

Please take the time to click through to their submissions to the Nominating Committee and get familiar with their qualifications, views and ideas – you will be voting for them soon.


Change is needed on the CIRA Board – Part II

I received a lot of feedback on my earlier post advocating for change on the CIRA Board. I thought it might be helpful to followup on a few of them.

First, about my comments on Board diversity. Specifically;

Canada is diverse, vibrant and progressive – CIRA’s Board should reflect this.

Of primary concern to me is the diversity of thought and experience of the people populating CIRA’s Board of Directors. Different people with different backgrounds can bring different thoughts to the table, and collectively these create a tremendous resource the organization can rely on. I’m less concerned with “quotas” as some thought I was advocating for. My point is simply this – CIRA needs a Board of Directors that can add to the discussion and create value for the organization. One of the ways of fostering this is to pay some attention to diversity of thought and experience. That said, I would personally like to see better regional balance on the Board. 6 people from B.C. is too much, especially given that a number of Canadian provinces have *no* presence on the board.

Second, I want to expand my comment about special interest groups.

The outcome of this election should be a Board representative of Canada’s diversity – not a panel of advocates for special interest groups.

I think it is proper for special interest groups to rally around good candidates and push for their election to the Board. What is not right is when these candidates bring their issues to the table and try to push an agenda on the organization. It is easy for inexperienced Board members to forget that they have a primary obligation to the organization that supersedes the interests of the groups that got them elected. During my tenure on the Board I saw many candidates come to the table in exactly this way and the time and energy wasted on pushing back on these conflicts of interest was terrible. The Board should benefit from focus, and that requires each Board member to bring themselves fully to their work and as unencumbered by special interest agenda as possible.

Last, I want to reiterate my remarks about the difference between having a Board seeking to protect and keep versus one focused on growth, innovation and progress.

We need Directors who are hopeful and curious. Any who are motivated by fear of change should be replaced.

The .CA registry and DNS is a national infrastructure asset and its technical operations need be managed conservatively and competently. That does not mean that CIRA’s programs, initiatives and policies cannot be progressive and growth oriented. I would love to see the Board engaged in a strong dialog with Canada’s Internet community about what our possibilities are, how we can grow the pie and create great opportunities for Canadians. This means putting aside the introspection around governance and bylaws and taking up the mantle of engagement, transparency, accountability and real discussion with the Board’s stakeholders. CIRA’s staff is making excellent progress in these areas and I find it amazing that the Board still finds it so difficult.

So again, in this upcoming election – let’s push for real change on the Board. Let’s look for candidates that have a clue about what loving the Internet, serving the public and participating in the work of a Board really means. Let’s add those people to the existing clueful people on the Board and encourage them all to aspire to greater heights.


Change is needed on the CIRA Board: An Open Letter To CIRA’s Membership

Change is needed on the CIRA Board. To be precise, more change.

In the next Board election, I urge you to look beyond the incumbents and reach deep into the community to find and elect as many experienced, interesting and passionate new candidates as we can.

CIRA has the potential to lead change and support Canada’s vibrant Internet community. Year after year, the Board claims to have abided by “best practices” and engages in endless tweaks to its governance model yet it has failed to make any appreciable progress outside of its original formative efforts. The organization itself continues to gain scale and credibility and the staff and CEO would benefit from the skills, experience and mentorship that a strong Board can provide.

Canadians deserve more from CIRA’s Board of Directors. We need energy, enthusiasm and leadership that can create connections with Canada’s Internet community and foster and promote a truly Canadian Internet agenda.

Canadians deserve a Board populated by professionals that are qualified and enthusiastic about the richness of the Internet and what we can achieve with it. Seeking professionals means looking deeper than middle managers from IBM who have a passing knowledge of the ICD. We need Directors who are hopeful and curious. Any who are motivated by fear of change should be replaced. Canada is diverse, vibrant and progressive – CIRA’s Board should reflect this. The outcome of this election should be a Board representative of Canada’s diversity – not a panel of advocates for special interest groups.  

I’m not saying that CIRA’s Directors are all lacking. They are not. Many are making a strong individual contribution and could be an integral part of a well-functioning Board. The key lies with developing a strong Board and eliminating the apathy, inexperience and lack of vision that populates the periphery.

Furthermore, the current process of Board self-assessment doesn’t generate sufficiently unbiased information to allow the Nominating Committee to do its work effectively. The Nominating Committee can and should take a deeper look at the dynamics of the Board and seek to form its own opinion how each individual Board member contributes to the whole. The Nominating Committee should actively seek to unify the Board around the Directors who are demonstrably making a positive contribution to the work of the organization and reinforce their ranks with new faces who can make a similarly strong contribution.

I write this from a position of concern and care. I have always believed that CIRA has the potential to be a truly special organization – more than just a steward of an important public resource, it could be a cornerstone in a progressive national Internet agenda.

I also now believe that more change is required before this can happen.