Uncharted Insider - July 2019

Uncharted Insider - July 2019

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the July edition of the Uncharted Insider.

Uncharted Update:

  • Uncharted had its 2nd birthday! We turned two years old on July 25th!
  • We received 125 applications for the Futurebound Acceleration Lab
  • We completed the Chipotle Aluminaries Project, an accelerator for ventures working to build the future of food with integrity
  • We hosted our Summer Team Retreat (“Camp Uncharted”) up in the mountains: cooking competitions, strategic planning, board games, fear-setting (instead of goal setting), paddle-boarding, toastmasters, and collective problem solving on Uncharted’s biggest challenges and future opportunities.

Ideas on my mind:

Cultures of Photosynthesis: I am a biomimicry nerd, which means I find myself searching for examples of how human systems can learn from the elegant, self-correcting dynamics of the natural world. There is biological brilliance in our midst, yet we often don’t look to a grove of aspen trees for lessons in sharing resources or to an ant colony for insights into coordination and teamwork. Recently, I’ve been captivated by the process of photosynthesis, where plants intake carbon dioxide and sunlight and transform them into oxygen and sugar. I’m curious how organizations like Uncharted can build cultures of photosynthesis where we breathe in the “carbon dioxide” of the world (whether that’s challenging interpersonal dynamics, disempowering relationships, painful experiences, etc.) and transform that carbon dioxide into the oxygen of greater organizational, interpersonal, and psychological thriving. Over the years, I’ve observed how our team has inhaled something painful and broken and exhaled something healed and fortified, but I’m curious how to further strengthen our photosynthetic power: collective learning and postmortems, individual reflection, de-stigmatized feedback, practices of gratitude. Would love to learn from you.

Monthly Rant

Self-Preservation. We vastly underestimate the power that motives of self-preservation, safety, and security play in an organization’s strategic planning process. Somehow, we’ve concluded that good strategy stems from the rational integration of data, learning, insight, sense-making, and decisiveness. But is it possible that one of the greatest invisible contributors to a strategy is the tendency towards self-preservation? We first have to dig into our subterranean emotional drivers, examine our own complicity, and regard ourselves with the sober self-awareness necessary to name biases and acknowledge other non-strategic factors. Only then can we get to the data, learning, insight, and sense-making. Before strategic planning is strategic, it is psychological.

Can you help?

  • I gave a speech this past month, and it wasn’t my best performance. I know I’d benefit from a public speaking coach. Know anyone?
  • Our team is seeking an organization here in Denver that we can challenge to trivia nights, kickball games, and other feats of intellectual, physical, and comedic strength. Basically, we’re realizing we need a rival organization in our lives. We’re looking for a 15-20-person company with a good sense of humor, a penchant for pranks, and the willingness for a fun-spirited rivalry.

What I’m reading:

  • Interviewing white men in first class: How one African American woman explored white male privilege with her fellow passengers. Here.
  • Lebron James is building a school in Akron, Ohio that is generating such positive results that it could be a model for the country. How moving slowly, integrating trauma-based pedagogical practices, and returning to first principles of love are leading to outcomes. Here.
  • Some ideas move only at the speed of human trust and relationships. How some ideas stick and others get lost. Here.
  • Darren Walker controls $13 billion at the Ford Foundation, but is it the philanthropy of human capital, not financial capital, that is more transformative? Here.

Something personal:

I’m part of this extraordinary mastermind group of social impact leaders. There are four of us; three women and me. These women lead some of the most pioneering organizations in their fields/countries (one is based in Germany, one in Australia, and one in DC/Pakistan). We Whatsapp-message every day, host monthly video-calls where we tackle problems we’re encountering, and we’re gathering next month in Vancouver to apply the collective brain-trust to issues of management and leadership. I’ve absorbed and applied much of their wisdom into the Uncharted context, and I’m a better leader for it. The whole experience has reminded me of how rare true peership is. Someone told me once, “Humans are good at relating ‘up’ where we assume the role of student and learn from a teacher, and humans are good at relating ‘down’ where we are the mentor and we seek out a mentee, but we are inexperienced at relating ‘across’ as peers.” I’ve found that to be both true and profound, which makes the discovery of peers -- no matter how many time-zones away they are -- an unusual gift.