Musings from Yoxi Founder, Sharon Chang
I woke up from a dream where I worked really hard to install a steering wheel on a supersonic flying sailboat. The whole contraption appeared to be magnetic in a logic-defying way: floating, repelling, snapping and spinning in all directions like a Pixar animation gone awry. The most unnerving part of it was the silence. With all the action, I seemed to be gliding peacefully without sound or gravity. The chaos didn’t create panic at all. I was happy in that dream.
Now, with my eyes wide open staring at total darkness, I realize I have only slept for 2 hours. It’s 4am, and I am eager to jump out of bed to write about what this dream means to me.
For the past few years I have devoted most of my energy and resources toward developing future architecture, a framework that uses the intangible as building blocks to construct better futures for humanity. Essentially, it’s a values-based collaborative approach to actualizing systemic change. It favors collective imagination over individual aspiration, long-term wellbeing over short-term success, and emergent experimentation over competitive strategy. I intuitively know what future architecture is, but I struggle to find the right language to articulate what I know to be true, to be beautiful, to be of critical importance to the survival and prosperity of not just mankind, but everything our human species is connected to.
“Our entire construct of the world depends on language. What we see isn’t what the universe has defined, but what our brains have learned to label.” This quote* resonates with me deeply, as it captures the pressing issue I need to address in order to share with the world how to unload the burden we have inherited from experiencing reality through old language. This realization led me to a hypothesis: if I want to build understanding and garner support for future architecture, I need to first create a culturally recognizable container to hold what most people loosely define as collaboration. I decided to call that container Shared Future.
I am not going to get into the definition of Shared Future here (if you are interested in learning more, please get in touch with the Guild of Future Architects). Instead, I would like to ask you to take a leap of faith with me and make the following assumptions:
- The concept of Shared Future creates opportunities to expand the investment vernacular, blending philanthropy and impact investing into new structural configurations to support work that benefits humanity;
- A Shared Future investment has a “variable KPI” called KXI whereby the P:(Performance) in KPI is replaced by X, which stands for the intangible value to be contextually defined by stakeholders on a case-by-case basis;
- Fast-forward ten years, Shared Future is a household concept just like startup is in today’s business and cultural lexicon; remember the term startup was coined in the 1990s, something that’s barely 30 years old.
With these assumptions, we enter a new chapter for Yoxi. After nearly ten years of experimentation in myriad forms of impact-focused investing, we are ready to invest in something that does not quite exist just yet. Moving into Yoxi 9.0, we will support the prototyping of Shared Futures by framing a series of questions around KXI. By bringing together pioneering investors, audacious entrepreneurs, and innovative systems designers who are ready to move beyond outdated metrics to understand the complexity of impact evaluation, we hope to contribute learnings to inform the development of new language that demonstrates both the concrete and intangible value of Shared Futures.
Yoxi 9.0 builds on a history of creative experimentation to invest in social innovation. It also reinforces the ecosystem approach that aims to integrate all of my work into a holistic journey of inquiry and action. This milestone wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated support of my brilliant collaborators, and I would like to take a moment to recognize the incredible contribution from my dear colleague Kaz Brecher, Yoxi’s Executive Director of the past three years.
This is the perfect time to cut back to my crazy dream: during her tenure, Kaz has been piloting that flying sailboat with no steering wheel. True to her nature as a curious catalyst, she remained steadfast to honor Yoxi’s commitment in funding questions. With rigor and humility, she helped Yoxi’s portfolio explorers connect unlikely dots to tell compelling stories, identifying new patterns that set the foundation for more sophisticated exploration. She is now ready to hand the torch to the next captain as we set our flying sail to explore more uncharted territory. I, on the other hand, am eager to upgrade our vessel with a steering wheel so our incoming captain will be more equipped to pursue this exciting journey.
It’s only fitting that my attempt to navigate the unknown triggered more questions than answers, as symbolically represented by my dream. I shall go back to refining the compass and leave the steering wheel to our next Executive Director. With much excitement and anticipation, the entire Yoxi team will be spending a considerable amount of time in the coming months to prepare for this new chapter. In the meantime, we’ll continue to support all of our portfolio explorers in their pursuit of more beautiful futures.
Moving forward we will be as committed as ever to play our small part in creating positive impact, diligently exploring how we might uncover prosperous paths to a beautiful future. Despite my growing anxiety around the current state of the world, I remain optimistic about the possibility for humanity to enter into an enlightened phase of radical transformation. I have seen enough evidence to believe that we can increase our will power and capacity to collectively address the most pressing challenges of our time, and I hope you will join us.
*Taken from a Medium post by Zat Rata