Our in-depth primary research, both journalistic and ethnographic, gathers insights from innovators in a system to map the current evolution of the collective response to a complex problem. Our Discovery Maps yield insights about where the aggregate energy in a system goes, and which aspects of a problem remain unaddressed. The analysis is a qualitative snapshot that yields both opportunities to drive change and opportunities for new markets. Our team brings more than 20 years of experience in applying this approach to complex problems ranging from human trafficking to overfishing to literacy. 


Flip Labs founder Cheryl Dahle speaking at SOCAP 2013


The wisdom for finding the solution is embedded in the system—we’re releasing it, not inventing it.


Discovery Product offerings include:


  • Discovery briefing in slide deck format with one Discovery Map. 
  • Written report of the analysis. 
  • Research = ~25 interviews

Deep Dive

Depending on the needs of the funder, the Discovery can be adapted to address multiple levels of system inquiry and typically ranges from 4-6 months in duration.

Contains some combination of the following: 

  • Discovery Map(s);
  • Portfolio analysis; 
  • Policy analysis; 
  • Cultural trends; 
  • Analogous industry research; 
  • Full report format with data illustration
  • Research = ~75-100 interviews

Past Discovery clients include: David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Commune LP., a private investment firm.


The Co-Design process begins with the opportunities generated by Discovery or a specific challenge identified by the funder. In both cases, we recruit select stakeholders to co-design potential solutions. The workshops blend expertise with fresh perspective to offer a new approach to systems change: the development of an “ecosystem” of related, strategic solutions. Rather than trying to identify the single best idea, program, or enterprise to develop or finance, foundations, companies, and investors engage the Co-Design process to surface a group of independent but related opportunities that, if engaged, would work in concert to move the needle on real change. Depending on the specific type of Co-Design product, these refined ideas may then move into our Pod process for further development.


We prevent people from solving problems the way they are used to solving them, which leads to new possibilities.


Our past co-design efforts have explored how to use business models to support the restoration of wild oyster reefs, how to amplify the work of nonprofits who help restaurants make better seafood sourcing choices, and how to grow the entrepreneurial “gift economy” of Jamaica.

Co-Design offerings include:


One convening, preceded by 3-4 weeks of research and focused on a discrete challenge presented by a client.

Deep Dive

  • Two convenings, typically developing opportunities previously surfaced through a Discovery process. 
  • Identification of refined ideas and the leaders to carry them forward. 
  • Second convening produces a strategic plan that sets the stage for 18-24 months of pod facilitation.

Co-Design is a highly adaptable process.  The two options above are our most common products; however, we have designed and led multiple variations, ranging from single to multi-day workshops, depending on client needs. 

Pod Work

Systems change is bigger than any one entrepreneur or business. We recruit entrepreneurs into disruptive business ecosystems, called Pods. These Pods provide paths to success, support, scale, and community. By supporting a Pod, foundations have the opportunity to develop a strategic, integrated, multi-prong approach to shifting a system. Investor sponsors get a portfolio of viable opportunities for both investment and systems change. Taken together, the initiatives and joint ventures each Pod creates become engines of change that produce business wins and impact.


We reveal the potential of both the parts and the whole: Individual businesses grow and evolve while they work together for collective impact. This is the most powerful way we know to incubate both durable change


To date, we’ve supported Pods in the following areas: Breakthrough Aquaculture, Traceability in the Seafood Supply Chain, Oyster Restoration, and “Storied Fish.”