the way


We are on a mission to change the way our public-serving institutions work. Here's our point of view...



Enduring changework requires a strong perspective on how change actually happens

We have become stunned by the lack of a point of view on how the human condition changes. Each year, billions of dollars are distributed into programs that deliver services without changing the underlying condition. The result is that we often “rent” change with a short term fix. Not only is this type of impact unsustainable - but it also cripples the effective use of resources and can at times cause harm to the very community an organization is working within. At Civilla, we seek a long term view that moves solutions from the fringe through system adoption. This approach requires leaders to adopt a different mindset and pursue a different set of questions from the very outset.



Courageous Leadership

Changework requires leaders to stand with courage

Most of the world’s momentum and resources are dedicated to supporting the status quo. Pushing against the way things have always been requires an enormous amount of courage. Courage can look like: moving in a direction that doesn’t yet have broad support; leveraging your personal credibility to place a bet on exploring a new way forward; taking action with a long haul view; creating air cover so that others can step into ambiguity and risk; arriving with the willingness to say “I don’t know.” At Civilla, we seek to partner with leaders who are committed to fostering courage in themselves and those around them in order to see change all the way through - no matter what. 



Working capital

The most powerful dollar invested in changework is a small, unrestricted bet on a team that knows how to produce value 

Most of the money invested in public goods is restricted. The intent of restricted money is to ensure that resources only get spent on work that delivers results, yet the opposite often happens. Restricted grants rarely cover the actual costs of bringing about change and typically limit a team’s ability to rely on intuition and judgement in an increasingly complex landscape. At Civilla, we see flexible working capital as an important component for driving change. We seek out opportunities where teams have the resources they require to maintain patience and go all in as they pursue meaningful work.




If changework is going to scale it must draw upon the principles of emergence

One of the main reasons that change efforts don't scale is that they were never designed to do so. We see this often when solutions are rooted in programmatic frameworks & resource-intensive delivery models. Not everything scales to a billion, and that’s okay. But for those leaders who are looking to go wide we believe strongly that the most scalable and enduring change is rooted in what nature has discovered over the past 3.7 billion years: emergence. As we tackle changework, one of our chief priorities is ensuring that solutions are rooted in a deep understanding of the way change scales in living systems. 



Tiny Teams

Small, networked teams are particularly well suited to drive change

Over and over, much of history’s great changework originated from small teams. Think of Thomas Edison’s Menlo Lab, Apple’s founding team, the Twelve Disciples, the start of the Black Lives Matter movement. Yet, resources are often diverted to large organizations that continually deliver projects that are wildly expensive and fall short of expectations. As the world moves towards open and distributed networks, organizations that deliver closed, heavy, and proprietary solutions are not going to deliver the change we aspire to see. At Civilla we are actively designing our organization to fit into today's context. Our team leverages networks to bring together capabilities that deliver greater value, more enduring solutions, at a cost that is literally a fraction of the comparable industrial model.




Changework must be driven by the voices and experiences of real people

Enduring changework will not emerge from packaged personas, customer segmentations, or a set of user stories. It requires deep relationships with the people who are most directly impacted by the work. At Civilla, we are committed to closing the gap between organizations and the communities they work within to ensure people's stories and experiences guide decisions every step of the way. This enables community wisdom to arrive with enough strength to disrupt organizational inertia and deliver the depth, insight, emotion, and momentum that is needed to drive change.


See how this point of view is guiding our work