ICAI General Assembly facilitates global connectedness and collaboration

This article was written for ICAI Winds and Waves, August 2014 issue.

ICAI global networkThe ICAI General Assembly is the governing body of ICA International, a global network of non-profit organisations advancing human development worldwide.  It comprises representatives of ICA locations in over 40 countries, including at present 22 voting (statutory) member organisations – see our global network (above).  Recently the General Assembly has met online once a year, most recently in December 2013 (see ICAI online regional gatherings and General Assembly), and previously face-to-face every other year. This year we have begun to meet more often, to reflect a growing appetite and a growing technical capacity for online connectedness and collaboration among ICAs globally. We have also introduced some new innovations in how we meet, in order to be more inclusive of our entire network.

Twelve ICAs were represented by 22 participants in the latest 26 June online General Assembly meeting, and 18 of the 22 statutory ICAs participated in the online voting on the three resolutions. The three resolutions were all approved without opposition.

The first resolution was to approve criteria to direct the ICAI Board in disbursing funds drawn from members’ dues to provide financial support for regional meetings and other member initiatives for peer-to-peer support and collaboration among the global network. Already the Board has approved support for Spanish language training in online ToP facilitation for 20 staff and volunteers of several Latin American ICAs and ICA Spain. The Board is now inviting member ICAs to submit brief proposals for support for other new initiatives.

The second resolution was to clarify criteria for non-voting (associate) membership of ICAI. This is to enable and encourage organisations and groups who share ICA’s mission and values to formally join the ICAI global community, and so to join existing members in peer-to-peer support and collaboration at the global level. Associate members must be a registered organisation in their country or a constituted group with at least five members, and they must operate out of values in alignment with ICA’s and participate in peer-to-peer support and collaboration for the international work of ICA. The Board is now inviting new nominations for associate membership, from existing members or from prospective new associate members themselves.

The third resolution was for the Board to appoint an ICAI working group on global conferences. The last (8th) quadrennial ICAI Global Conference on Human Development was held in Nepal in 2012 – see ICAI Revisited and ‘Growing a New Sense of Leadership’ in Nepal. The new working group is to support, receive and review proposals from ICAs to host an ICAI Global Conference or conferences in 2016, and to consult with the global network in order to submit a 2016 Global Conference proposal for approval at the December 2014 General Assembly. The group is to comprise around 6-9 people representing all continents, diverse in terms of language, age and gender, and with considerable first-hand experience of managing previous ICAI Global Conferences and other similar events.  The Board is now inviting nominations for individuals to join the group and begin its work.

Two additional items were included for discussion in the agenda of the General Assembly meeting. The ICAI working group on global ToP facilitation (Technology of Participation) policy, convened following a decision of the General Assembly last December, presented its working draft for feedback and invited suggestions for wider consultation to further build global consensus during coming months.  Members of the ICA USA Living Archives team presented plans for an online Global Research Assembly in September, and invited feedback to help to ensure that the Assembly and the online collections that are in development will be as relevant and accessible as possible to ICAs worldwide.

The General Assembly meeting was held twice, at 10am & 5pm UK time for different time zones, and global times were announced using www.timeanddate.com. The meetings were held using the ToP Adobe Connect platform, a powerful tool with which ICAI members are increasingly familiar and adept. This allowed multiples layouts for sharing of video and various documents, with participation by voice, text chat and polling. A poll within the meeting was used to prioritise agenda items for discussion time.

Voting was conducted this time by asynchronous online poll on surveymonkey over 10 days following the meeting, in order to maximise the participation of all voting members. Surveymonkey was also used in advance of the meeting, in addition to email, to consult and build consensus among those who might not be able to participate otherwise.  In a survey on global conferencing in advance of the meeting, 44 responses were received from 31 ICA locations worldwide.

For further details of the ICAI General Assembly and any of the issues addressed, please contact me or another ICAI Board member.

ICA International Board update, May 2014

Global Buzz
This post was first published in ICAI’s monthly bulletin the Global Buzz.

At the ICAI Board’s April meeting the focus was on detailed planning and assignments for implementation of the 2014 Business Plan finalised in March and circulated then.  The Board offered it’s support to the regional Vice Presidents as they work to facilitate networking among members within their regions over the coming months.  Krishna is liaising with members in Asia Pacific to convene a regional working group to facilitate peer-to-peer support and collaboration in that region, Isabel is working with members in the Americas to organise online facilitation training in Spanish and Gerald is connecting with African ICAs by phone and skype. Martin is also working with ICA Spain to confirm the dates and location for this year’s face-to-face ICA European Interchange, to be held late October or early November in Andalucia.  We agreed that ICAI would make a token contribution toward the rent of the new ICA offices in Toronto, from where our Canadian colleages continue to maintain ICAI’s legal status and financial accounts, and we have renewed ICAI’s membership of the World Alliance for Citizen Participation CIVICUS.

Building on conversations with members at last year’s online regional gatherings, Martin has now drafted criteria for non-voting Associate membership of ICAI and for ICAI financial support of member’s peer-to-peer initiatives.  These will be reviewed by the Board in May before being circulated to the membership for further feedback and revisions, in order that they may be voted on at the online General Assembly in June.  Also building on last year’s regional gatherings in preparation for the June GA, Staci is drafting an online survey by which to consult members on possible approaches to convening a face-to-face ICAI global conference in 2016.  The annual accounts are ready for Board approval in May, and we continue to monitor progress on ICAI’s ‘Continuance’ as a non-profit in Canada and on release of the legacy that has been left to ICAI.  Invoices have been circulated and members are renewing their dues for 2014.

The ICAI working group on global ToP (Technology of Participation) policy has had several online meetings involving a dozen or more colleagues from many ICAs in all continents, and is considering what it may circulate more widely for consultation in advance of the global online gatherings and GA in June. The Winds and Waves team published another fantastic issue of ICAI’s flagship magazine, Networking, and are about to meet to make advance plans for the next issue.

ICAI Winds and Waves – Networking

ICAI Winds and Waves, April 2014 - coverThis article was written for ICAI Winds and Waves, April 2014.

Welcome to this latest issue of Winds & Waves, the online magazine of ICA International.

While many international NGOs have shifted from a more centralised to a more networked approach to their operations in recent years, ICA has operated globally as a network of autonomous and independent national NGOs for over half of its 50 years. Many member ICAs themselves operate as networks, both nationally and internationally, and many individuals around the world remain connected and involved with ICA in various ways long after they have moved on from a formal role within an ICA organisation. Such loose and diverse structures with such ‘leaky boundaries’ can be challenging in some respects, not least in terms of governance. However, they can also enable greater local relevance, responsiveness and self-reliance in conjunction with greater global connectedness, learning and mutual support. Networking is one of the ways by which these advantages can be realised, and so supporting networking among ICAs and ICA colleagues is central to the role of ICA International and networking makes a fitting theme for this issue.

Within these pages you will find stories and reports from individual ICA colleagues and from national ICAs, on their work of research, training and demonstration to advance human development worldwide. Networking and a networked approach feature strongly in many of them.

Terry Bergdall in Chicago reports on the Sustainability Leaders Network of ICA USA’s Accelerate 77 programme, empowering community leaders from across the city by supporting them to ‘connect, align and produce’ together. Lorraine Margherita in Paris reflects on the role that networking has played for her as she has established herself as a professional facilitator within the emerging ICA network there. Larry Philbrook in Taipei reveals the findings of a recent research initiative conducted through ICA networks, online and face to face. Gerald Gomani in Harare reports on ICA Zimbabwe’s work helping communities fight HIV/AIDS – this work has been supported over many years by ICAI network partners in the USA, Canada and the UK among others, and networks people living with HIV with each other and with local health and social service resources. Charles Jago in Australia writes of an online networked approach to holding government and politicians accountable by ‘asking real questions’. Ishu Subha in Kathmandu writes of the network power of a local women’s group that grew to a leading financial institution. Teresa Sosa in Caracas writes of how principles and values she has learned from ICA have enabled her to gain strength from networks to strive re-create a country in times in chaos.

The global network of ICA International now comprises member ICAs and related groups and organisations in 40 countries worldwide. We welcomed ICA Ukraine as our newest statutory member at our ICAI online General Assembly in December. I have been privileged these last few weeks to serve as a mentor to one of ICA Ukraine’s ToP facilitation trainers, Natasha Karpova, and to learn something of how she and ICA are working to network diverse actors in Ukraine, another country in a time of some chaos, to re-envisage and rebuild their country’s future together.  It was a privilege also (and fun!) to help to network ICA Ukraine’s facilitators with Russian facilitators attending the Moscow Facilitators conference this month, by exchanging real-time Facebook updates between my post-conference ToP strategic planning course in Moscow and Natasha’s simultaneous ToP strategic planning course in Lviv.

Moscow facilitators study the ToP Participatory Strategic Planning by planning ‘What can we do over the next 3 years to promote a culture of participation in our organisations?’

Moscow facilitators learned the ToP Participatory Strategic Planning process this month by planning ‘What can we do over the next 3 years to promote a culture of participation in our organisations?’

Meanwhile ICA Ukraine’s initiative connecting mentor ToP facilitators from ICA’s global network with mentees in Ukraine prompted Larry Philbrook of ICA Taiwan to adapt and apply the model globally, attracting so far 25 mentors and 36 mentees – just the sort of peer-to-peer initiative within the ICA network that ICAI seeks to support.

The ICAI Board updated its Business Plan for 2014 in the last month, in light of the experience of 2013 and discussions and decisions at the December General Assembly, and supporting peer-to-peer networking for mutual support and collaboration remains at the heart of our approach. Whatever the extent and nature of your relationship to ICA or ICAI, if you share our collective concern with ‘the human factor in world development’ then please join in networking with us.

Please share this issue of Winds & Waves and consider contributing to the next, please connect and share with us online via ICAI on Facebook and @ICAI on twitter, and please connect directly with whichever national ICA of the ICAI global network is closest to you in your geography or in your passion.

Enjoy this issue!