Why I Founded Thicket

It’s been almost two months since Thicket launched on February 1st. I’d been working on the model for many years, driven to create new ways for people to think and work together and circumvent the existing structures for collaboration that are so vastly dissatisfying to many of us. But this isn’t why I founded Thicket.

I founded Thicket because today, more than 7 in every 10 people around the world live on less than $10 a day. Over 70% of us are denied access to the building blocks of human development: resources, opportunities, and decisionmaking power over our lives. All of these are currently tightly controlled through global systems and structures that channel most of the resources and most of the opportunities to a small number of people. These systems and structures maintain and increase inequality. No wonder most people don’t have a sense of their own agency to control their environments — they have been born into systems in which they have no power.

This is why I founded Thicket: to unlock agency, opportunity, and resources for greater circulation in society. The systems that maintain structural inequality need to be examined, challenged, and changed if we want human development to truly move forward. We need to revisit our entrenched modes of thinking about development challenges and recontextualize them within the complex environments they reside in. We need to widen the scope of our lens, and develop new tools to apply to the process of complex problem solving.

Through Thicket, I’ve been examining complex systems to find ways to move from creating change within systems to changing the systems themselves — to achieve what’s known as impact.

Here’s how Thicket is approaching this challenge: 

  • Complex systems operate on universal principles, and those principles present a suite of new strategies and metrics we can use to start deliberately influencing larger systems and structures toward impact. Thicket has developed a framework to understand and analyze impact in complex systems based on systems and design thinking.
  • Thicket is developing a collaborative system mapper to to inform our research, planning and evaluation processes.
  • Thicket is bringing together talented systems thinkers from around the world to design new social and economic solutions to create impact. Read about our collaboration program.

Thicket is both the culmination of a journey and a point of departure. As a first-generation immigrant, I’ve had the painful privilege of being both an inside and outside observer of systems. I’ve seen my home state (California), my parent’s home country (Sri Lanka), and my birth country (England) undergo vast changes at the mercy of global development flows and structures. It’s my hope that the research and thinking developed at Thicket adds to our shared knowledge base and our projects influence systems and structures towards a more equitable balance.

I’m looking forward to doing this in partnership with like-minded people. Thank you for reading, and I look forward to all that we can accomplish together.

New Ways to Evaluate Impact

The field of monitoring and evaluation is undergoing a sea change as we recognize that traditional evaluation methods and metrics aren’t accurately reflecting whether we achieve our overarching goals and get to true impact. Thicket believes design thinking and systems thinking can help evaluate social impact in a global context. Read the blog post New Ways to Evaluate Impact to see what these approaches have to offer, and learn more about the research initiative that led to the founding of Thicket. Thanks to the Stanford Social Innovation Review for featuring our research and to Openbox for the opportunity to dig into these topics.

Contagious Logic model designed by Eli Rosenbloom