October 25, 2010
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has failed on a number of fronts, resulting
in sub-par products and services in a global monopolistic environment.
Failures will continue if not recognized and immediately addressed.
is about the future,a journey into uncharted territory, and it
requires vision supported by technical, operational, and mind-changing
competencies. Until people
use a new product or service, it is unknown and unknowable, and
that includes its value. For example, it cannot be determined
whether new top-level
domains (TLDs) can viably compete with “.com” domains, or
whether successful new TLDs will be driven by new business models.
Failure is an integral part of doing business that cannot be avoided
and (in certain situations) should be encouraged. That is especially
the case with something like new TLDs, when so many imponderables
are involved. But failure must be learned from and managed, and
ICANN hasn’t done that.
It does not require
a rocket scientist to recognize that ICANN has fallen short because
Clear objectives. ICANN
is driving blindfolded, which makes it hard to prioritize projects.
For example, it created a buzz around selling single-character
domain names in 2007, then dropped the project without explaining
why it was abandoned or why it was considered a good idea in
the first place. The current buzz is about new TLDs, but ICANN
still has not convincingly articulated the problems that it
expects these TLDs to solve. No public company can survive without
having clear actionable objectives.
When people don’t understand the benefits of an organization’s
products and services, they will not only avoid said goods and
services but also actively sabotage them. For example, ICANN
has not convincingly
communicated the benefits of new TLDs, and thus has created
a strong and vocal stakeholder opposition. In the corporate
world, the lack of selling skills is tantamount to sending business
to your competitor.
Trust. ICANN has not been transparent
in its communications with stakeholders who want to be informed
and heard. For example, it has commissioned
a report on new TLDs to bolster its view of the matter,
as opposed to seeking an independent evaluation and listening
to customers. Often enough, stakeholders who have been consulted
don’t mind if the final decision goes against them. They just
want a fair and transparent process. ICANN, by not giving them
one, has demonstrated a lack of respect.
Last, but not least, seeing failure. ICANN has never
acknowledged any of the above failures; and, not coincidentally,
it has never tried to fix them. An organization won’t drive
itself to correct failure, and ward off further damage, if it
doesn’t recognize the failure’s existence.
To start remedying these failures, ICANN must rethink its objectives
in an easy-to-understand language, and then develop and implement
solutions as well as performance measures.