From Constraints to Creativity

My role in designing structures for Unreasonable at Sea

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As the oh-so official scheduling & logistics guru on board the MV Explorer (also known as the Associate Director for Unreasonable at Sea) my days are centered around one overwhelming challenge:

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(1) TAKE: 20+ radical, forward thinking, unreasonable entrepreneurs

 

(2) DESIGN:  structures, schedules & programming

 

—>   THAT RESULT IN = one epic, creative environment for rapid ideation

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SAMPLE PROJECT:

The first way I usually describe my role in this process is with an example:

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MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: VISA PROJECT

Main Objective [MO]:  Get our incredible, out-of-the-box thinking, rule-breaking, unreasonable entrepreneurs, & our entire team (40+ people representing 12+ different countries) to successfully gain entry to all 14 port stops along our voyage.

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Action Items:

  • Ensure completion of all necessary forms & processes for customs & immigration
  • Convince last-minute planners to set their travel plans in advance (as much as possible)
  • Ensure each traveler obtains all necessary visas & permits to enter 12 different countries around the world (with different regulations and requirements based on citizenship, region, and feelings of the person who happens to be at customs that day)

    

While I would consider our work on this challenge to be exceptionally successful both at the front end of our voyage and as we continue to encounter new surprises & regulations along the way, it is clear even in description that I am using the typical method of addressing operational challenges:

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(1) Visualize the objectives

(2) Develop a strategy

(3) Turn plans into action

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And while this method has worked relatively well previously, in traveling around the world with a community of design-thinking, unreasonable people, I am learning to evaluate this strategy in a radically new way.  On the ops team for U@Sea (which consists of myself + the incredible Chief of Staff, Taylor Rowe) we are pushed to go beyond the method mentioned of addressing challenges, and to leap out into the environment of experimentation design that exists on this unique voyage.

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Because when you work for a creative entrepreneurial community, it isn’t simply about getting the logistical and scheduling tasks completed; the real challenge is how to take the logistical aspects of the voyage, and turn them into opportunities for increased creativity.

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How do you set up daily schedules and logistical tasks in a way that will actually ENHANCE the creative atmosphere rather than stifling it?

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Turns out, logistics and structures are not so opposite to creativity after all. As I have learned in our daily workshops on board, one of the core principles to design thinking is as follows:

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Constraints inspire creativity.

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So the new [MO] for our U@Sea Ops team is to:

Take a constraint, of which there are many as we logistically navigate across the globe, and turn it into a design challenge; a communal experiment for how to operate most effectively and creatively on a world-traveling ship.

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As our 10 teams of entrepreneurs rapidly prototype various elements of their projects and solve challenges daily, our U@Sea team is learning to work with the same principles to address the challenges of running the program.

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As George Kembel (our co-founder of U@Sea, founder of Stanford’s d.school of innovation, and someone for whom my admiration seems to build daily,) stated in our very first team meeting in San Diego:

 

When you begin to frame each project, each encounter as a learning experience, everything changes.

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Working in a logistical, operations-heavy job at Unreasonable at Sea, I am reminded daily that no matter what role we play in our community or in life, we are all challenged to push ourselves to experiment and learn in every way possible, and to take on the opportunity to design our experience. 

Categories: ALL Entries, Uncategorized, Unreasonable At Sea | 1 Comment

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One thought on “From Constraints to Creativity

  1. 🙂 and with structure comes freedom.

    you are such a beautiful soul my friend.

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