Feedback loops for Mexico City

by Kieren McCarthy on March 12, 2009

I’m a big exponent of feedback – particularly simple, mass feedback – for the work that ICANN does. With such a diverse community, in both geographic and cultural terms, it can be next to impossible for ICANN staff to get a feel for what the community thinks about a topic or a session.

We often end up hearing only a very few voices – and usually the same voices – and so broad-based feedback, even if as a result it comes without precision, is enormously valuable. But there is also a requirement on ICANN staff to make it clear to the community that the feedback that is sought and is provided is listened to and reflected.

And so with that in mind, the two sessions in which I personally was able to develop some feedback for have since been updated online with what precisely you said.

Joint AC/SO session

The Joint AC/SO session on Monday afternoon was a very different approach to the usual ICANN meeting. It was developed jointly by the different chairs of the Advisory Committees and Supporting Organizations over a number of teleconferences in the months preceding the Mexico City meeting, with input from myself and from Patrick Sharry, who moderated the session.

There were a number of departures from the norm. The room layout was radically different: we put people in the middle of the room instead of up on stage and we had them facing one another to encourage discussion. The chairs picked out two broad topics and then various members of the SOs and ACs discussed those topics, prodded and moderated by Patrick.

(In fact, if you have a look at the top right of this post, you can see a video featuring Patrick talking about the session.)

Instead of Powerpoint presentations following by Q&A, we had fast-moving discussion with audience participation through the use of coloured pieces of paper (red=I don’t agree; green=I agree; white=I need to hear more/I am undecided). And various other small changes.

At the end of the session we handed out around 200 simple feedback forms in English and Spanish and asked attendees to fill them in. We received exactly 40 back and I have compiled all the results and the comment and posted them on the session webpage for you all to review.

See here:

I won’t go into what I think they demonstrate because that will be for the AC and SO Chairs to decide when we start another round of teleconferences to see what improvements/changes can be made to the format in time for the Sydney meeting.

Public Participation

The second session in which we had a significant degree of real-time feedback was the Public Participation session on Wednesday afternoon where the new Board Committee on Public Participation outlined some ideas and open the floor to ideas and discussion.

At the end, using an online tool from Poll, the audience was asked three basic questions about the session and could use text messages, smart phones or online voting to register their views.

Again, that feedback has been posted on the session’s webpage so you can go view it. See here: That showed a clear interest in holding another public participation meeting in Sydney, so that’s exactly what we will do.

Your feedback on the feedback

This sort of feedback is vital if we as ICANN staff are to understand what the broader community thinks. It helps us adapt and prevent out-dated or ineffective approaches from getting carved into stone. Of course it is important to show that we see the feedback in order to make it worth your while to provide feedback in the first place so hopefully this blog post does this in some small way.

So, if you think this is useful. Or you think it is a waste of time. If you think we should have feedback forms in every meeting. Or if you would like to see different approaches taken. Then please comment below – our ears and eyes are open.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

David H. Deans 03.14.09 at 11:53 am

Openess – Change – Innovation and now Feedback — exactly what’s the Internet is for… enabling all of the above. Very cool.

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