[ALAC] Some thoughts on ALS Criteria & Expectations Taskforce

Carlton Samuels carlton.samuels at gmail.com
Sat Aug 8 23:18:49 UTC 2015

I hear you. I can also agree we could indeed categorise and I have no
problem with the ones you have defined.  We can also agree that a variety
of motivations to serve will bring varying performance.

Like you, the thrill from air travel is long gone for me as well. I do what
I must. These days after 4 days elapsed time, I'm usually ready to go home.
I have only two pleasure trips left in me; taking that Trans Siberian
Express train from Moscow to the Russian Far East and Vladivostok, a trek
thru Mongolia. Anyone wants to hand me a travel benefit then those are the
only ones that will count!

As to that 3rd group you staked out, it is indeed irksome they show up,
short on even intention to assist in the heavy lifting.  I paraphrase that
eminent philosopher Forrest Gump; 'representatives are like a box of
chocolate, you never know what you will get'.  A few ne'er-do-wells will
get thru our processes time and again. I see this as a price you pay for
voluntarism; what I call uneven results and performance.

Its like the ICANN Fellowship programme.  I can't tell you how many Fellows
- some of whom I have recommended - we have tried to engage after the
fellowship trip that simply ignore us. For some the fellowship week
experience was overwhelming; too much packed in days that are too long.
They wonder how I find the time to do ICANN with all my other commitments
and interests they know about. A few have even asked me directly if I'm
getting paid 'under the table'!  But we harvest a few for the long haul.
Again, let's manage expectations. We must expect uneven results and


Carlton A Samuels
Mobile: 876-818-1799
*Strategy, Planning, Governance, Assessment & Turnaround*

On Fri, Aug 7, 2015 at 5:58 PM, Alan Greenberg <alan.greenberg at mcgill.ca>

> Carlton, I think that there are three distinct categories of people here,
> and we are merging them together.
> 1. There are the dedicated hard workers for whom the travel may or may not
> be a "perk" at some level. I put you and me in that category. I have logged
> close to 2 million flying miles (that is, actual flown miles, not frequent
> flyer miles), and to quote an old song I am fond of "The thrill is a long
> time gone". I find it hard to consider a trip half-way across the world,
> where I may get 6 hours sleep, put in a grueling 7-10 days, and fly out
> again without seeing anything other than a hotel, perhaps 1 or 2
> restaurants and the airport a perk or reward.
> On the other hand, on rare occasions, I do tag some vacation onto an ICANN
> trip and from that perspective, it does add a bit of a personal benefit -
> generally giving me an opportunity to see a place that I might not have
> done on my own.
> 2. There are volunteers who are not among among our heavy lifters (really
> dedicated workers), but want to get involved. They are the ones that our
> GAs and summits should be targeted at. They are at the meetings to learn,
> and try to stay involved after.
> 3. The latter ones come to meetings, perhaps attend some meetings, enjoy
> the local offerings, and go home and forget about us until the next trip.
> THOSE are the ones that I have a real problem with.
> Of course, there are also some who straddle several categories. BUt when
> they go into option 3, I have a problem.
> Alan
> At 07/08/2015 01:55 PM, Carlton Samuels wrote:
> I participated in this morning's call and wanted to level the playing
> field by enunciating some principles and a framework for our discussions.
> Let's start with some principles.
> 1) The At-Large is a volunteer-led and fueled organisation and whatever we
> do MUST be informed by unassailable facts we know of voluntary
> organisations plus the psychology of voluntarism.
> 2) Individuals make the worthwhile contributions, not organisations.
> 3) There is a wide range of motivations for voluntarily contributing and
> these must be fed for sustaining worthwhile contributions
> 4) Results matter but volunteer contributions across the board shall
> always be uneven
> So now, the framework for discussions. There are structural issues as well
> as political issues that must be embraced for any viable solution to
> emerge.  The ICANN/RALO MOU is the source of the first
> structurally-generated challenge.
> While it recognizes individuals as the providers of policy advice, it
> locates individual actions in organisations called ALS. And by so doing
> suggests that value be given to the organisation.  Some RALOs, like NARALO,
> have developed rules that recognize individual contributions but have
> shoehorned valuation for contribution into an ALS structure.  I'm not now
> sure what the answer should be but I know what we now have is not fit to
> purpose and objective.
> Another structural issue.  An individual coming to the ICANN policy
> development ecosystem is going to become a worthwhile contributor by virtue
> of mental acumen, penchant for hard work and time in place. Time in place
> is the common criteria for success.  So current arrangements give extra
> value to experienced volunteers.
> At the same time, new blood is required to sustain the flow of worthwhile
> contributors. Here's the thing. Face-to-Face (f2f) ICANN meetings are the
> best platforms to learn and to become familiarized with this complex beast
> called the ICANN ecosystem.
> The effectiveness of a volunteer in policy development is directly related
> to serial opportunity to participate in ICANN f2f meetings.  It is no
> accident that the most impactful groups in ICANN are a) those that get to
> f2f meetings as 'volunteers' engaged in compensated work b) Those who have
> the wherewithal to self-fund attendance at ICANN f2f meetings.
> The task is to develop a framework that strikes a balance which takes into
> account the need for experienced volunteers with capacity to deliver
> worthwhile contributions even as we build capacity in newer
> less-experienced volunteers to sustain the At-Large participation agenda.
> The current funding model for attendance of At-Large volunteers to ICANN
> f2f meetings assist ALAC representatives, liaisons from ALAC to qualified
> SOs/ACs plus named RALO leadership. This construct seemingly presumes a
> direct line of inheritance from RALO leadership thru ALAC representation.
> We know it is a presumption without merit, especially if worthwhile
> contributions to policy discussions is the objective for the At-Large in
> It is always wrong to think of travel funding to ICANN f2f meeting as a
> benefit to a volunteer!  It is not and cannot be!
> ALAC representation compels attending three (3) f2f meetings per annum.
> They are coincident with the ICANN meetings.  In this context, travel
> funding is purely part of the infrastructural cost to fulfill an
> obligation. Otherwise it is like working for a company that has business
> far removed from my place of domicile and expect performance without
> provisioning the tools that enable that performance.
> It rankles me personally when my contributions in both time and treasure
> to the ICANN enterprise is neither accounted or valorized.  Then insult is
> added to my injury when some goof equates a trip sitting in steerage for
> upwards of 17+ hours [the flight time from Chicago to New Delhi] as a
> benefit!
> I travel by air a lot for work; the miles are now counted in millions. In
> the years I sat as an ALAC member + the incumbent Secretariat for LACRALO
> and as a senior staffer at The University of the West Indies, I contributed
> my vacation time of 3 weeks to ICANN for attending f2f meetings. This does
> not count the average 20+ hours per week I normally dedicate to ICANN
> matters. Nor my personal spend of a minimum of US$500 to attend said
> meetings!  These all contribute to ICANN having a real opportunity to
> record it is indeed multi-stakeholder, is fulfilling its AoC obligations
> and has contributions from end user representatives to its policy
> development.
> Back in time, I was roundly criticised by some of my At-Large colleagues
> for my position in dealing with so-called ALAC 'tourists'.  This matter
> came to the top in India; LACRALO representatives to ALAC were accused of
> abandoning ALAC business for a tour of Indian tourist sites.  This still
> haunts the At-Large in ICANN circles. My firm stand against any sanctions
> or additional criteria applied for travel support funding was interpreted
> as 'protecting' the members accused from sanctions for inattention to
> duty.  That was never my objective and it still is not the case today. I
> just cannot accept the notion that travel funding is a benefit to the
> volunteer. I shall, on principle, oppose any such notion, howsoever derived
> or configured.
> Finally, in the chat we heard talk of a 'reviewer' being appointed. While
> the roles and responsibilities of such a person/actor is not yet outlined,
> let us be clear to ring fence and give specific instructions as to what we
> are trying to achieve here.  We must recognize from principles that
> volunteers give as much as they can to the cause.  The contributions in
> time and treasure of a Olivier Crepin-Leblond or Cheryl Langdon Orr cannot
> be used as a benchmark for either engagement or indeed, worthwhile
> contributions.
> Best,
> -Carlton
> ==============================
> Carlton A Samuels
> Mobile: 876-818-1799
> *Strategy, Planning, Governance, Assessment & Turnaround*
> =============================
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