Future of Fish

June 2013 – Current

Role: Design Strategist, Facilitator

The Challenge

Future of Fish (FoF) accelerates the widespread adoption of business solutions that end overfishing by supporting collective impact of entrepreneurs and strategic partners. Their collaborations re-frame existing system wisdom, find new market opportunities, and unleash people’s belief in their own power to drive change.

I worked with FoF over a years time on several key initiatives. My initial FoF project was the design and facilitation of a 2-day workshop in New Orleans, June of 2013. We were examining the question “How can we drive more successful and efficient oyster restoration in the Gulf of Mexico?” National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) had commissioned Future of Fish to analyze the current state of oyster restoration in order to identify opportunities to reduce costs of getting more reefs and oysters in the water, increase efficiency of existing oyster farmers, spur entrepreneurship, and leverage other non-conventional approaches that have the potential to drive and sustain large-scale restoration. We assembled a group of 24+ cross-sector collaborators to wrestle with those questions and develop concrete business solutions by the end of the 2 days.

The second project was the design and facilitation of a second workshop in September 2013 at the SOCAP 13 conference with a sub-set of the New Orleans convening collaborators. In January 2014  we refined those ideas even further with a third convening in Washington D.C. That group is now an ‘oyster pod’ being provided support services from FoF to work on their business initiatives toward oyster restoration system change.

I co-designed and facilitated two additional workshops; one in Washington D.C. held at the National Fish & Wildlife foundation, and one in Seattle, hosted by Vulcan Ventures, both to further the development of the Oyster Pod work.

The next series of major initiatives were more digital infrastructure oriented. The first was a full redesign of the website, including content strategy, information architecture and the refining of service offerings. The new site launched April 2014. The second initiative was a complete information re-architecture of the internal document sharing system. And the third was design strategy for Flip Labs, a spin-out organization focused on Collective Impact across sectors.

The Impact

We achieved our three key goals for the first workshop in New Orleans; to gain a shared perspective on current state, barriers and opportunities for oyster restoration, conduct opportunity interviews and identify viable business projects and committed champions that represent innovative solutions to real problems in the oyster space.

The group generated dozens of ideas in an up-front ideas marketplace exercise, which we clustered into 5 key themes. Participants then chose one of those themes to develop their business ideas over the next day and a half.  Each group first ideated broadly; what would their product/service model look like in a world without constraints? Following that exercise, we had them converge and bring ideas back into the realm of the real and examine who their customers would be, how their proposed ideas fit with real needs of those customers, how might the idea scale, and who is willing to champion the idea?

Groups then added a business concept outline to their idea utilizing the business model canvas.

Each group presented their idea, and we created a master outline that we then further developed at the next convening, at SOCAP. The Future of Fish recruited a new cohort member from the convening, and NFWF has requested further development of the ideas that can be moved into funding and implementation.

The oyster pod continues their work together, and 3 other pods have been established – technology and transparency, storied fish and breakthrough aquaculture. Future of Fish continues to be a pioneer in Collective Impact work, and is extending the approach to new sectors through the creation of Flip Labs.

Key Tools

Design principles


Organizational Design

Design research planning