The Trek Episode 14 on Process: Civics Unplugged discuss daily processes and how it affects the larger system– in collaboration with Humanity 2.0
Contributed by: Show Editorial Team
Gary Sheng, Madison Adams, Zoe Jenkins, Ashley Lin, Jonah Zacks, Chabu Kapumba, and Julia Terpak discuss processes on this weeks episode of the Trek
- Civics Unplugged hosts Trek Session with Gen Z community on their daily processes and how a process can make or break a system
- Prominent Gen Z figures discuss the importance of having a process whether it is intentional or unintentional
- Future leaders of America discuss broken processes in corporate culture and how we can work to evolve them
Brought to you by: Humanity 2.0 – a Non-Profit (Non-Government Organization) focused on identifying and removing the most significant impediments to human flourishing through technology and thought-leadership in collaboration with the Holy See (Vatican).
Special consideration; to CommPro Worldwide for their PR and media support
INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS: Gary Sheng, Co-Founder/COO at Civics Unplugged, Madison Adams, Director of Dialogue at Civics Unplugged, Julia Terpak, Founder of Gen Z Connect, Ashley Lin, Founder/CEO of Project Exchange, ]onah Zacks, Steering Committee Member at Civics Unplugged, Zoe Jenkins, Steering Committee Chair at Civics Unplugged and Chabu Kapumba, Senior Fellow at Civics Unplugged
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 00:03
Hello everyone and welcome to groupthink. Groupthink is our dialogue series at CU, where you pick a topic and talk about whatever feels meaningful. My name is Madison and I’m a high school senior from Verges, Oklahoma, and I’m joined by some amazing people and they will introduce themselves now
Jonah Zacks – Steering Committee Member, Civics Unplugged: 00:22
I guess I can go ahead and go. My name is Jonah Zacks. I’m from St. Louis, Missouri, and I’m a high school senior.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 00:34
Hey, my name is Ashley Lin. I am a high school senior from Vancouver, Washington.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 00:43
Hi everyone. My name is Chabu Kapumba. I am 19 and a first year at the university of Toronto.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 01:02
Sorry, I got this new microphone. I’m just testing it out. But hi everyone. I’m Zoe. I’m a high school senior in Lexington, Kentucky.
Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 01:13
Hi everyone. I’m Julia. I’m 23 years old and I’m currently in Pennsylvania.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 01:18
Hey, I’m Gary. One of the co-founders of CU and I’m in New York city.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 01:23
Awesome. Thank you all so much. So today we’re talking about process and we start off with a word association. So whenever you all have your one to three words ready, thanks to Jonah. He changed that so shout them out and you can explain why those words came to mind.
Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 01:50
I would say steps and strategies. I guess those come to mind as soon as I think of process.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 02:14
I can go next. My word association for process is first being it’s something that’s instinctive for me, because I think that I’ve recognized that I think in processes often. So it’s something that kind of happens naturally. And then also it’s good big ideas and the reason that’s kind of a phrase, I guess, but the reason why that’s associated is because I think that when you set up a process, you get to think about all your really big ideas and big goals and ambitions. So that while you’re in the midst of doing it, you can kind of live those goals through your process work. Cause it’s harder to do, it’s easier to think of them in the beginning than to do them in the midst of the process.
Jonah Zacks – Steering Committee Member, Civics Unplugged: 03:00
I’ll go ahead and follow the rules of this time and say policy versus ideals, maybe policy from ideals to be better.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 03:27
I guess for me, the words that come to mind are simplicity and routine. I think it’s important that your process is something that you understand and it should be something that you just do naturally all the time.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 03:54
I think of replication and evolution. I think replication because I feel like processes give you the prompts and structure to be able to do something again and again over time and then evolution, because if you don’t know the process of how you do something, you can’t really change the individual steps of how you get to your final result.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 04:27
I can go it’s I can say practices, constraints, and freedom. So just quickly say processes are almost by definition, constraints on like it constraints the possibility space, but it also opens up longer term possibilities space as well. Right. So if you have the freedom, to eat a bunch of junk food now, but that constrains your future possibilities that you may think are desirable, right? So there’s this interesting kind of interplay between constraining and constraints and freedom through process.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 05:36
And I would say a lot of with similar to what’s been said, so I would say so conscious learned and change subconscious because a lot of the processes that we engage in, we don’t even realize that we are engaging in them as part of like what Zoe touched on with routine learn, because obviously all of our processes are learned through habits that we develop doing from other people and then change because once you become conscious of your processes, you have to be building to change and improve them. So you have something to start us off with.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 06:26
I think I can start us off by asking everyone what’s an example of a process that you engage in.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 06:52
I guess I can kick us off with that one. I actually did this, I guess, process routine last night. I’m not super into cosmetic things like fancy soaps and painting my nails, but it’s something that I do or I try to do at least once a month. Because I know that I like when my nails are painted, I like the nice smelling soaps. It’s just not something I remembered to do all the time. And also people keep giving me lush products because I think that people are just don’t know what to give teenage girls. They’re like, let me give you bath bombs. And now I’m like, I have five bath bombs. I don’t know what to do with. So that has now become a ritual of around once a month, trying out these new things which is nice because you see people in movies in their white robes and they’re all like warm and comfy. And I like emulating that on occasion.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 07:58
I think that’s really cool. And also necessary. I think that a process that I have is I feel like I mentioned this all the time, but just having a reflection to do at the beginning of the day and the end of the day. And it’s just for reinstating the good vibes you know, reframing the day and just being in a good mindset at the beginning and end of the day.
Jonah Zacks – Steering Committee Member, Civics Unplugged: 08:31
It’s interesting to me that both of these both fall into kind of a similar category, I guess. I don’t really know what the name of that category is, but the sort of moment that you take to increase your functionality later on, if that makes sense. And my equivalent to that I guess would be handwriting exercises. So like in fourth grade or whatever, I sit down and trace out the letters. I try to do that most days. Yeah, that’s kind of my equivalent of that.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 08:56
Yeah. I definitely agree with that. I think process has helped me manage, I don’t know, like energy transitions, so I have a pretty complex process before getting into tech Sabbath. And if I don’t follow it, I will forget. So it’s just very intentional rituals where first I clean all the paper and I remove the sticky notes and then I do breath work and yeah, so it’s like sharing some stuff.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 09:41
See, I’ve been trying to think about which process I want to mention in this example, but I think it’s hard because I’ve undergone a lot of change in the past couple of months. And so I’m just starting a lot of these processes for the first time, the past couple of weeks and they’re constantly changing. And so I don’t really have a step process for most things, except for a daily reflection, but that’s about it.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 10:21
Speaking of reflection, I started doing I think some of, you know, I use this app called Daylio almost on day 840 in a row. That then progressed. So that’s just like a quick checkup, checkoff, what habits you did. And then there’s a daily journal I do, which is separate from brain drops. Would you like to see more thought pieces basically? And so in addition to daily reflections I do weekly reflections. I started monthly reflections in April and I just did my first annual reflection yesterday, probably going to start doing quarterly reflections in 2021. It’s been working out pretty well this year.
Jonah Zacks – Steering Committee Member, Civics Unplugged: 11:36
Here’s a question I kind of had and that is what things do you think need a process?
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 11:54
This is kind of a really broad response, but I think things that you want to do and things that you want to avoid doing, I think are good things like I know Ashley mentioned that, you know, she has kind of a complicated process to get ready for tech Sabbath, but if she doesn’t do it, then she’ll forget. So you’re avoiding forgetting because you really want to do something. And so you have this long process to do it, but I think it’s in the same way that you should journal and reflect so that you avoid, you know, doing things maybe that you don’t really like doing, but you wouldn’t notice unless you were actually intentionally thinking about, you know, why do I feel like my energy is being sucked on X type of calls? Oh, wait, you know, I now understand that and I won’t participate or I can do this to mitigate that. So I think you need, I’ll just leave it, that answer. What do you want to do and what you want to avoid doing?
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 12:37
Yeah, I’ll have to agree with that. I think a lot of times it boils down to habits you want to cultivate and also things you want to make sure that get done. So I know that with our lives are so busy, it’s really important to implement practices that like Chabu and Zoe were talking about, that are really foster that kind of self-care category that Chabu mentioned. So, I know that if I don’t make a process out of doing my daily reflections, it’s not going to happen. And if I don’t make it habitual.
Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 13:18
Away from self-care a little bit, to some degree, I think if you’re doing something that’s going to affect more people than just you, or something bigger than yourself, you need some type of approval process or some type of insight process in a way.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 13:33
I also think it’s important, again, this is pretty broad, but I think it’s important to have a process for things that require a lot of attention to detail or things that are enriched by having a great attention to detail. Because it’s really easy to skim over things when you’re in the midst of doing something. And so a process can force you to slow down and pay attention to all the smaller steps that have a big impact overall.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 14:07
Yeah. And I think process has helped me, almost get into flow state. I feel like you need processes for things that are I wouldn’t say super, super hard, but hard enough that it wouldn’t naturally happen.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 14:37
And on that, I think that it’s important to process for things that you’re really good about doing so that you can help other people learn how to adopt them as well.
Jonah Zacks – Steering Committee Member, Civics Unplugged: 14:50
Yeah. I’m going to follow Julius lead here in state governance. Just because I mean, like Zoe knows that we stick to, or try to stick to on steering committee has really saved us multiple times and a few examples, but I’m not going to do that.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 15:07
I want to pose a question, when our processes more harmful than helpful?
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 15:21
I think I can start off as conversation. I think that they are more harmful than helpful when they get in the way of the actual end product. It’s really easy to get lost in the process work sometimes, and then never actually arrive to any kind of conclusion or any kind of finished product. So you also want a process that encourages you to kind of arrive to something or some kind of point.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 15:50
Yeah. I don’t think processes are intrinsically bad or good. It really depends on your mindset as you’re engaging in them. Like, are you growth oriented? Can your processes change because it’s really easy to get stuck in that cycle of engaging in the process over and over without actually making anything happen or making any changes.
Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 16:19
Yeah. To the point about an end product. I think working in the corporate world early learned that sometimes the processes create more inefficiencies, a lot of the time too many loopholes or too many eyes on something where people get too nitpicky. And then the end product like Chabu said can, it can be detrimental to the end product.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 16:45
I just wanted, this was inspired by Julia’s comment, processes that aren’t built to evolve or exist in spaces that don’t like, evolution are super harmful because it forces you to re-engage in something that’s problematic and prevents you from like learning from past mistakes.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 17:07
Yeah, totally agree. I was going to say, I think Julia, what you were touching on too, just bureaucracy in general of things where it’s like, do you need five signatures on that in order to get this done? Or, you know, do you need to go through this process? There are so many weird examples where bureaucracy stopped progress and then people look back and like, wow, we shouldn’t have to go through six different people for product design. Because that’s how we missed out on this huge innovation. And you know, we came onto it a year too late. So I think in general, if a process of yours is hindering process, or if it feels like a chore, then it’s probably not a good process or there’s a better way that you can go about it where it will serve its purpose and really help.
Jonah Zacks – Steering Committee Member, Civics Unplugged: 18:01
I guess my thinking is that a process can do one of two things. It can either speed you up or slow you down, which feels like it should be an obvious thing. But it wasn’t for me. And theoretically what you want to do is if you’re about to step on a nail, you want a process that’s going to slow you down so that you see that nail before you step on it. And so like Zoe was saying, if you know that your pathway is going to be pretty clear, and there’s not a whole lot of obstacles that you’re going to trip over and slow yourself down, then a process can really hurt you. But also if you have a process to rush through something, when you shouldn’t be, when should really be taking your time and being careful, that can also be detrimental.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 18:54
Well, the point that Jonah made, I think that a process is very much reflective of who created it. And so if you’re prone to just rushing through things and the process will encourage people to rush through things, if you’re someone who has a tendency to go through things very slowly or at a pace that doesn’t match and the process will also be reflective of that. So I think it’s also really important to assess the premise that it’s founded on.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 19:21
And I’ll say on that, I think it’s really important to understand the foundations of any process. I’m sure we’ve all been placed and we’re like, Oh, that’s kind of a weird rule that they have. But there’s a reason that these weird rules and weird processes get started it’s because something happened or someone is trying to avoid something. But sometimes those processes can be really detrimental because it’s purely out of avoidance for something you’re not trying to foster something that’s better. I think it’s important to understand the foundations, but also to know when to be flexible. Like if you miss a week of your weekly reflection, that’s not the end of the world. But if you really beat yourself up over it, then that process is no longer helping you. It’s now a stressor. So I think you have to find the right balance between holding yourself accountable, but also giving yourself a little bit of grace.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 20:13
This makes me want to pose another question. What is the balance between focusing on the process and the end product?
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 20:36
I mean, is it a balance or is process how you achieve end products?
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 20:49
I think there has to be some sort of harmony. Like I think there’s some good things that spawn spontaneity in life.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 20:58
Well that’s a process. I think, I mean, I would say that that’s a really, it’s kind of meta, right? But it’s like the process of being open to the full spontaneity, at least that that’s how abstract my brain works, but sorry.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 21:16
No, I mean, that makes sense. But you almost, you can’t plan on spontaneity. Like it’s a process and it’s something we should all lean into, but you also can’t plan spontaneous moments in a way.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 21:31
Well, I would say that a spontaneous moment will like, why don’t we have a thought experiment, a spontaneous moment won’t happen if you don’t consume any content. You’re sitting in a room all day you don’t talk to anyone. You don’t leave the house, right? So there’s obviously things that you can do that generate more luck, right. More spontaneity, which is why I actually wrote a blog post like three and a half years ago. About how, a big reason why I moved to New York was to increase my luck, which is, I mean, we don’t even talk about what even, I think you get what I mean by luck, right. It’s not really luck. It’s just things bouncing against each other. Right. And so sometimes cool happens. Right. Which is actually, I mean, the founding of CU is actually a great example. It was through a bunch of networking kind of circles that we all found each other.
Jonah Zacks – Steering Committee Member, Civics Unplugged: 22:33
So you’re saying basically creating randomness is a process.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 22:47
Yeah, I think, yeah, that’s more or less, right. It’s like one kind of concept that some people like to use is increase your luck surface area. So you almost have a luck net. Right. And you can do things in the setting that you’re in, the communities that you spend time in, the content that you consume. Right. You’re hoping that something gets caught in the net. Right. Like some kind of useful thing it’s caught in the net. So, I guess I listened to all sorts of podcasts that I don’t seek out. Because I subscribed to like when you think about it as podcast subscription, how many times, if all you have a podcast ritual, like listening ritual, but there’s often podcasts there’d be weekly or biweekly sometimes more than that. And because that person is on a similar sort of mission or has a certain set of interests, right. There’s going to be, is it right to say that it’s like kind of random that you’re getting insight at the right time from these people. And I was like, no, you’re actively consuming a bunch of stuff, which sometimes yields surprising fruits. But it’s your act of dedicating that time to listening to that podcast that allowed for certain dots to connect?
Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 24:26
Yeah, I would say I’m not a process person at all. I’m super spontaneous in basically every aspect of life. And I think it kind of goes with the question, what is the balance between focusing on the process and the end product? I approach things often wanting the most efficient way to get the most effective outcome and constantly reassessing, like if steps are vital to the process which like Gary said, being spontaneous is honestly kind of a process as well. So yeah, just constantly assessing if steps are vital along the way.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 25:04
I think that people can up in terms of being spontaneous and whether or not it’s a process. I think that you can have the internal process of when I see something cool to be reactive or to be responsive to that new cool thing. And that’s an exercise of being spontaneous. Like I watched a movie and then made, I guess the spontaneous decision to watch every movie by this director and watch tons of interviews by this director. And that was very reactive and spontaneous because I had no plans for it. You know what I mean? And to circle back to this question on the balance between focusing on the end goal and the product, I think that balance suggests that it’s either or like you engage in one or the other. And I kind of like to see it as a dynamic relationship. And so the process should inform the end product and the end product should inform the process. Like very much a dialogue between the two is it’s a healthier way of approaching it in comparison to how I used to look at it, for sure.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 26:22
Yeah. I guess even taking that more tangibly, I think about the design thinking process, like how you start with empathy to find your problem, and then you ideate and a new prototype and you build your product and an after you have your product, you repeat that cycle over again. So it really is like a dialogue, really. It never stops because you’re always getting feedback and you’re always going back to the beginning of that process. And showing it to the people you’re trying to help and getting their feedback on it and iterating,
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 27:05
I’m curious to hear some examples from all of you about processes that didn’t work too well in organizations you’ve been a part of and why you don’t think they worked well?
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 27:30
I think that this kind of speaks to a lack of process or the process that was in place wasn’t strong enough almost. But the way it was the process of if there was an issue or a complaint, how did you begin the process of addressing it? And essentially the process was to bring it up in the next, like exec meeting and that process field, like time and time and time again, because it became a thing of competing PRI like competing perspectives on the issue and not resolving it or having a discussion around it. So yeah, I think that’s a process that has been a lot of organizations struggle with though. Like how do you bring up an issue in a way that’s productive and conducive to resolving the issue?
Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 28:24
I had mentioned earlier, but sometimes when too many eyes are on are on something, people get so nitpicky and then even the great idea that was the start of everything. People start second guessing that idea, and then there’s no follow through in the end. So yeah. That can be something that doesn’t work very well. If you involve too many people,
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 28:48
I would also add just Parley pro in general. I did parliamentary procedure for a while and in FBI and other businessy or execs, they it’s like, it’s so dumb. Like why does someone make the motion and why does someone need to second that? And yes, I guess it makes sense, but when people don’t know the rules, if you don’t know the process, it becomes very hard to follow.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 29:19
Oh, interesting. So it gets in the way of perhaps a more useful end product. I guess it’s hard to justify changing that process though. If you’re not sure as an organization, what products you’re prioritizing.
Jonah Zacks – Steering Committee Member, Civics Unplugged: 29:39
One thing that I’m going to throw out, it’s kind of a big one is the college admissions process. I mean, everyone has their own thoughts and feelings on that. And my thinking is just scholarships too. My thinking is a lot of the college admissions process was created in really good faith really well-intentioned and for a time really was a good thing, like standardized testing for a long time was a really good thing. And then there were people who decided it was in their best interests to turn it into a bad thing and to try to take advantage of it. And they figured out how to do that. And we haven’t really updated since then. So I guess if you don’t update your processes is the wider lesson, then they get stale and stop working.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 30:43
I guess the only way I can think to describe this as chronic pessimism of like, when they’re issues that face an organization, you can’t just spend every meeting complaining about everything that’s wrong. I’m like, man, you know, if we were in a different world, I would do this to so-and-so where it’s like, great that you feel that way, but can we channel that into some actual solutions, which I’m in an organization that’s kind of going through that where we have weekly calls and people just complain. And so we’ve wasted months where we really could have been, you know, addressing the problem and really getting to its root, but we spent all that time complaining.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 31:21
Wow. Wow. So complaining was the process and the culture that was instantiated was a pessimistic culture.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 31:32
Yeah. Because people were just like, well, if we do this then like this like worst possible outcome is going to happen, which I don’t think inherently is that exercise, like thinking of the worst outcome is generally a good exercise, but that can’t stop you always from doing something that, you know, needs to be done, even if that’s a slim possibility that things could really blow up in your face because sometimes it just needs to get done. It doesn’t really matter what the worst outcome is.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 32:01
That makes me want to pose a question of what’s the relationship with a process and the culture that it exists in? And I think I can start off by commenting that it, I almost feel like it’s a 50/50 thing. Like you can have an incredible process, but if the culture is not conducive to engaging in it, reiterating it, learning from it, then it will eventually become more problematic than helpful.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 32:49
Yeah. One way to put that is process affords certain types of culture, culture affords the fateful implementation of certain processes.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 33:04
Oh, almost like the constitution. The constitution has a line in it that I bring up all the time. I think I know 10 words from the constitution and I’ll tell it 10 of them are this. And it’s the fact that there’s this phrase of like the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law. And so I guess the constitution, it was a process for how we’re going to govern the nation. But the culture has evolved where that process is now more problematic and not conducive to achieving the things in the process.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 33:39
On that note, we don’t talk enough about the spirit of something because a process is like, I mean, yeah, I guess, yeah. We should, I don’t know if we have a lot of time this call, right. But we need to talk more about the concept of civic spirits, people’s spirits.
Jonah Zacks – Steering Committee Member, Civics Unplugged: 34:16
Chabu, it’s really interesting that you bring this up. At first, I was thinking this is going to be a non-sequitur, but maybe it’s not which is that the spirit of the law com is a book by Montesquieu during the enlightenment. And that’s the book where he proposed the idea of a constitution and limited government. And it goes to that point where, you know, these are not new ideas. And so we build on processes that have already been developed over time.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 35:07
I think this was just an observation based on what Jonah said, but the idea that processes are meant to evolve and cultures are meant to evolve. And that common ground is really important to recognize.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 35:38
And I think Chabu, that raises kind of thinking, I mean, it’s kind of exactly what you said in a way, and we’ve been talking about our processes can inhibit growth and that’s not just the products that an organization is producing, but also the culture in a way, you can’t get past something until you start testing out new processes. And I think that’s something we see with a lot of older organizations that kind of do things a certain way. They have parliamentary procedure, they do X, Y, and Z every single year. And, you know, they aren’t able to grow beyond that because they don’t have the processes to do that, even if their culture is advancing. But I think processing kind of put a cap on the culture, but also I think it works vice versa where you’ve been have a very like hierarchy. I can’t pronounce that word, a culture with a lot of hierarchy. We’ll just go with that. That can keep people from adopting new processes at the same time.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 36:42
Anyone have something to add or another question to pose?
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 36:58
I think this would be cool, but what are some processes, both unintentional and intentional that exist in CU.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 37:08
Chabu just coming up with all these questions. They’re just so good. One of them is and y’all know this there’s probably more benefit than I even I can fathom, but when I create a doc and I sent it to you, what am I doing? I’m testing you, I’m actually getting feedback on the doc. I’m seeing if you’re interested in the project that the document outlines it’s an excuse to get to know you. We should actually document processes more because I hope that you you’ve learned processes through CU that are applicable to every part of your life. Right? So anytime you have, all of you are going to be designing draft, for this particular process, l all of you’re going to be drafting documents, or you should be thinking about what you’re building before you build it. And there’s a way to, so I know Zoe was like, or is trying to find people for dice and a great way to actually, instead of getting people in their interview mode or say, Hey, what do you think about this? It’s almost much better of an interview, right? To act like you have a plan, it dices, you know, 12 off plan. It’s like, okay, is there a really thoughtful feedback on this? Ooh, maybe we should continue talking more. Do you believe?
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 38:56
I think that a process, that’s cool that we use is the one that we have for Juntos. Like the note taking process, equal parts, open-ended conversation, but just enough structure for everyone to feel comfortable enough to just engage in the conversation and know where it’s heading. And we get things done, but we also have the opportunity to go off on a tangent that really matters and be inspired by the conversation. And it’s also one that’s used in a lot of spaces. Like I know we use it for the empowerment crew along with Junto or we have adaptations of it that exists in other places.
Jonah Zacks – Steering Committee Member, Civics Unplugged: 39:44
One thing that I’m going to throw out there is the processes we use and the steering committee a lot. And the one I want to underline is why am I blanking on the amendments section that we use to make changes to our processes? Because that is in my opinion, the most important one of what steering committee does. But that could just be my angle on it. And I think that anytime you’re making long lasting changes to governing, that’s going to be in effect long after you’re around. It’s important to follow the process.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 40:42
I think an unintentional process that we have is that we are naturally very optimistic. I think we present problems and our instinct is let’s solve that. Like, who can we talk to that can help you fix this problem? Or can we just get a lot of ideas on a doc and flesh those out and figure out what’s going to work in a way that I think a lot of other organizations are slower to do that. And I don’t know how that culture got created. I think it was both maybe intentional and unintentional, but I think it’s been really beneficial for all of us.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 41:12
Again, on the note of unintentional. I think vulnerability and opening up is definitely one of our processes. And so that’s really beneficial because obviously once one person opens up and is vulnerable, it encouraged other people as well.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 41:34
Yeah. So I would just add to that by saying almost like vulnerability is a spirit that is kind of fostered through things like daily reflection, threads through platform through group think and more.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 42:06
An unintentional process that we have is the fact that there are multiple opportunities to do one thing. So there’s multiple ways to get involved and engage with CU there’s multiple ways to get to know each other, whether it’s through a reflection thread or posting on a platform or things you talk about in random. And so I think there’s the process of plugging in is that there are multiple processes. And I think that that’s really beneficial because that way you can fit the needs or interests of a lot of different people.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 42:43
Yeah. Good point. I’m going to go ahead and send the doc here so that you all can look through it and you can start reflecting. And once you have something, just shout it out and I can write it down.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 43:01
I’ll just say that these conversations always fly by at least in my, how I experienced these as like flying by, because I mean, this is technically a process, right. But it’s really enjoyable because of the people that are engaged in the process of the design of the process. Like, it’s almost like the way that we’ve designed this it’s meant to work with how humans are built. Not like it’s literally built for a spontaneous ironic. I mean, we talked about tonight. This is literally built for spontaneity. You can literally pose any question you want related to this topic and respond to it in any way you want and reflect in any way you want.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 44:10
I think that whole conversation about the fact that spontaneity can be a process was kind of a big aha moment for me. I know I initially was pushing back on this. He kept explaining it, Gary. I was like, Oh no, that kind of makes sense, you put yourself in positions where more spontaneous things happen to you, but that, that ended up itself as a process. And also teaching yourself to lean into those things and not hold back. So I think that’s been really interesting now I’m going to think about that more as I encountered quote, unquote spontaneous things in my life.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 44:45
I think you were pretty good at acting on spontaneous things. The commence thing, I was glad that you said yes, hosting commands. I would say even if you did realize it, you have a spirit of embracing the luck that’s thrown your way.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 45:15
I think the relationship between process and culture was something that I hadn’t thought a lot about before, but it goes back to something that we talked about with Mohammed last week during groupthink about, he said you can’t replicate structures or formats into different areas as necessarily because the dynamic and the culture is so different. And so I think it goes back to that as well. And it’s a true thing about how, you put the same process in different cultures in the way. And the different end products that you get because, you know, we had a group think with 2021 fellows and it was really different from the kinds of conversations that we have here. And so, yeah, it’s just interesting to think about that relationship as well.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 46:02
I think this conversation has also shown because we talked about so many different kinds of processes that I was able to kind of pull together a list of what are good qualities and processes too. So for example, like processes with unforeseen benefits. So like in CU how, there’s one thing that we do, but it actually has all these great benefits that don’t necessarily correlate with that, or processes that multitask on your behalf, things that are natural and organic, and then also things that can be easily informed so that they can evolve, which kind of ties back to what Julia said about corporations and businesses that have a hard time doing that.
Jonah Zacks – Steering Committee Member, Civics Unplugged: 46:41
I hadn’t before this, I hadn’t really thought about the sort of disparate prevalence of process and how processes are a novel thing.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 46:56
I thought this is such a, this group think is such a great process because this reflection teaches you about what is surprising to other people, which teaches you about how people work, how the world works was mentioning your job today. That if there’s anything that we might make a super popular, it’s probably this around the world. I think we’re already, this version of group think is really, really good. 14 iterations in. But yeah, I mean, it’ll actually be good for all of you to start testing this out with your families and your friend groups and seeing what works and doesn’t work and why. Right. And, Oh, I mean, that just goes back to process and culture, right? Like some of you, I know have tried some things that we do in see you with your families or friend groups. Right. And they didn’t land. Or like extra extracurricular clubs. I didn’t work the same. So why is that? That’s really interesting.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 48:44
It also makes me wonder, can you, I mean, to what extent can you implement processes that permanently changed the culture as well?
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 49:05
Something we didn’t really talk about is I’ve never heard this word used before, but I’m just going to make it up process models. So people that model show that a process makes sense. I mean, role models fine, as long as the role is tied to processes and not just a title, which often it is associated with
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 49:33
And it connects to process models, but more so the idea of like processes and culture the fact that to take a process and apply it in a different space, you also learn more about the culture that it originally existed in by doing that. And I’m someone who likes to create processes that can be applied in multiple contexts. So like the process that I have for school is similar to the process that I have for organizing myself and my commitments. And so I think that it’s cool in the sense that like the application of a process in a different context, there’s a lot of learning in that, that you can impact that can help you improve those processes in a way too.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 50:35
One thing that this conversation reminded me was that a lot of processes can be pretty oppressive, just like stifling of human spirit,
Julia Terpak – Founder, Gen Z Connect: 51:01
I just thought it was interesting that we went to self-care processes first because I think it just shows how important processes are day-to-day for people.
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 51:26
Yeah. I think the connection between processes and spirit was really interesting. I guess I’m thinking about, I feel like certain processes have certain spirits associated with them.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 51:57
Democracy kind of right now has a bad vibe. How do we change that? Ooh, I really think that the people that will change civics and politics forever are going to be process models. It’s not about what they dogmatically believe about one issue and other they’re going to be modeling better ways of going about things.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 52:30
And I think on that note, Gary, the process falling, if I’m understanding it correctly, that it’s important. I think, especially for people in the old world to see that something works on a smaller scale for trying it out. I think this whole like work culture is without titles was selling the people were like, Oh no, you can’t work without titles. But then there have been these wildly successful companies that are yeah, we don’t have titles and look what we’ve been able to accomplish. And now that’s something everyone’s like, wow, we can actually work as a team. We don’t have to have a layered leadership structure. So I guess wondering how can we model good democracy on a small scale in a way that people think it matters?
Ashley Lin – Founder/CEO, Project Exchange: 53:14
You know, I think process models are super important for the intangible things. Like, especially for vulnerability, I think about this past year, I have had so many amazing process models for that, you know, like just being able to see Gary, do brain drops, I mean, privately even reading Peter’s journal articles was really inspiring for me. So I definitely would not have realized authenticity and vulnerability where some of my key values had I not been exposed to process models and an actually putting myself into that process and trying it out.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 54:03
The, like what you said makes so much sense because I think this is something that came up in our last group think as well, but you can’t ask people to do things that they have never witnessed before. And so if the objective is a good democracy or the objective is vulnerability or self-care, that may be something that I wanted to do, but I don’t know how to obtain it. And so a process model, even if it’s not the process you may end up using, it’s not the right process for you, any type of model is a good first step for engaging in something that you care about. And it meets you at like your level of understanding.
Zoe Jenkins – Steering Committee Chair, Civics 2030: 54:47
And I think Chabu, there’s so many examples of things that people think it’s stupid until somebody they trust does it. And it seems like it’s working. And the example that comes to mind are fad diets of like keto, go vegan, go vegetarian, where it’s like, you know, these big name people start doing it and then suddenly everybody’s doing it. And it’s like, you know, there’s obviously so much more nuance to do certain diets work, do diets work at all. But people do things when someone they trust can do it and show that it works in some capacity. So wondering how we can capitalize on that with something that’s a little bit less tangible than losing weight with a diet.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 55:37
The relationship between trust and processes really profound.
Chabu Kapumba – Senior Fellow, Civics Unplugged: 55:46
I think that a cool way to start, that would be to almost to pose the question. What’s the process for reinstating the good vibes. What’s the process for re-imagining or re-investing in the spirit of something. And I guess I instantly think of reflections because they helped me reconnect with vibes. I don’t want to keep saying that word, but they helped me reconnect with good vibes. And so you can almost use it as a stepping stone. That process is a steppingstone for imagining what that could look like on a wider scale or to something that doesn’t necessarily relate.
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 56:40
Any final thoughts. I just really enjoyed the conversation and that’s helpful to think about for USB because Chabu and I were going to have our meeting before this and she’s like, is it okay if we move it to after? And I was like, I think it was actually better because we’ll have the group think about process before. I think this is going to inspire some of our conversation for after this call.
Gary Sheng – Co-Founder/COO, Civics Unplugged: 57:16
Do you want us to quickly give a definite well, it’s kind of hard actually. We want just quickly define what that is just for?
Madison Adams – Director of Dialogue, Civics Unplugged: 57:24
So the USP kind of defines the way that on phone school, public school process, it defines the way that we approach things. Like how we solve problems at CU and eventually want to tackle larger social issues. And so it’s like a focus on processes as opposed to just the end products. And so that’s what inspired this conversation and it’s been really helpful to start thinking about some things as well. So, yeah. Okay. Well, thank you all for coming and I will see you again next week. Bye.
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