Vote for Thicket at #SXSW2018!

You helped Thicket Labs get to Austin in March 2017, let’s do it again next year! Thicket is excited to have two sessions in play for SXSW 2018.

We’ve pitched two events we’re passionate about, and we are excited about the partners we’ve been working with this year who will be presenting with us. Voting ends on August 25th so please get your vote in early! You can vote (takes 2 min) by clicking on the links in the descriptions below.

All Together Now! Participatory Media & Democracy

Thicket Designer Jacob Hernandez will be joined by panelists Ashley Brown of the Center for Global Policy Solutions and April De Simone of Designing the WE to talk about engaging citizens in the age of participatory democracy. We’ll be talking our work together to crowdsource a policy agenda from over 300 policy experts and community organizers to advance women’s wealth and health through targeted policy change. Our work has engaged people in building community power in authentic, on the ground ways -- using technology, but also using pen and paper. We hope our panel can help show how participation can help push policy making into a new realm of effectiveness to support democracy and citizenship.

Forecast the Future: Storytelling across Platforms

Join Deepthi Welaratna and Valerie Evering, Thicket’s resident educators and storytellers, for an engaging and visually captivating journey into the future of storytelling across platforms. We’ll be using Thicket to gather insights from industry pros and visualize how they see interactive storytelling evolving in the 21st century. Together we will map trends in storytelling across platforms and build a vision of where media industries are headed in the 21st century.

Show your love by voting for our events! We hope to see you in Austin!

Bringing Collaboration into the 21st Century

At Thicket, we amplify people’s ability to think and work together through technology. We marry design thinking with the analytic power of data science to power community-driven decision making. By visualizing situations from a variety of perspectives in clear and simple terms, Thicket boosts the power of groups to understand problems and predict outcomes in complex environments.

We know that impactful collaborations can’t happen by technological magic alone. There is still a specialist shaping the outcomes of the collaborative process and the resulting solution or plan. For the majority of the 20th century, it was management consultants helping companies to reorganize and restructure to keep up with opportunities for growth. In the old model, the consultant would swoop in, take in loads of data, and hold and digest tons of conversations. Through the power of a small team of well-trained brains and a few cookie-cutter frameworks for analysis, they would produce a single document to announce a company’s new strategic direction.

All of that has gone by the wayside. The 21st century has demanded more speed and scale of collaboration, more depth of knowledge and breadth of input from an increasing variety of stakeholders, and more transparency into how and why decisions are made. Many consultants struggle to keep up with the innovation cycle. The cycle of problem definition, stakeholder buy-in, rapid prototyping, and traction & scale must be completed within a certain timeframe or results are obsolete before they even go to market. Thicket speeds the development cycle for  dramatic efficiencies on both cost and time.

The old consulting model isn’t suited to today’s complex problem solving needs, but some firms break the mold by embracing all of the maddening potential and possibilities of complexity. They ask the right questions to identify root causes, key drivers and dependencies, and honest indicators of impact. We’ve seen how consultants embracing complexity can generate true breakthrough solutions that are firmly grounded in the design principles of inclusion and impact.

And so, it is with great pleasure that we announce our first partnership in the consulting space. Zago is a strategy and design studio with a 20-year legacy of helping social change organizations create social impact. The Zago team embodies 21st-century talents and principles in how they help clients build the capacity to be smarter, faster and more resilient. Thicket will be partnering with Zago to deliver tech-enabled decision-making and collaborative convenings to their clients.

We believe that Thicket is at its most powerful when grappling with all of the complexity of messy human collaborations. This is why we’re excited that Zago will be providing their clients with more powerful and efficient tools for them to explore their ideas, to analyze their possible outcomes and consequences, and to help them create lasting social impact today and in the years ahead.

Thicket is Collaborative Intelligence as a Service

When Thicket Labs launched at the beginning of 2014, a lot of the excitement in the startup world was around the power of big data, and the possibilities of quantifying just about anything. We saw a lot of time and energy being invested in making machines smart enough to replace humans in decision making situations. The thinking goes, if we feed computers enough data, we can make them so smart that one day they'll replace us. It’s the vision that inspires fear and excitement in equal doses.

We often talk about the amazing power of computers. Supercomputers, quantum computers, the neurosynaptic chip from IBM that offers 16 million neurons and 4 billion synapses. But no chip has yet come close to the human brain in size, capacity, or operation. When it comes to complex situations, we see those deficits even more clearly.

Training computers using existing data can only generate solutions that lack the human ability to anticipate emerging situations and adapt. They also can’t perceive nuance the way that humans can in unclear situations. Algorithmic solutions to problems like policing, governance, and health don’t account for the human perceptions or social and emotional responses that influence how these systems operate. The result is a distinct lack of innovation, and solutions that only reinforce existing problems.

At Thicket Labs, we leverage the intelligence of computers to improve people’s ability to make decisions. Thicket, our collaborative intelligence technology platform, harnesses the power of machines to amplify human insight. Rather than have a chip that imitates human reasoning to interpret our data for us, we combine the power of a hundred, a thousand, or a million human brains to scale and deepen the interpretation.

We start where all revolutions begin: with a team of people committed to achieving a big goal. By capturing human insight about the challenge at hand, we generate data-driven forecasts that can be updated  and saved on the fly. Using insights about key drivers, dependencies, perspectives, and what if scenarios, collaborators are able to steer themselves towards a shared game plan.

Thicket can be used in a wide variety of contexts, and by a range of collaborators. We’ve used Thicket in trainings, workshops, conferences, and online with healthcare professionals, startup teams, policymakers, community residents, military cadets, and many more. By inputting a combination of their knowledge, ideas and assumptions, users gain clear insight into the big picture, the resources at play, and gain a combined understanding of what’s possible.

Even in data-poor situations where information is limited, Thicket can still improve planning and forecasting outcomes by integrating as many perspectives on the situation as possible. Small teams can gain as much value as large groups by using Thicket to set goals and track their progress and performance.

By visualizing people’s values, perspectives, and priorities, we make it possible to predict possible futures based on human insight. Using Thicket, people can reshape their operations, their organizations, their cities, and their industries through people-powered forecasting.

When it comes to human problems, computers could certainly become smarter than us one day. But right now, we need human intelligence to drive innovations to improve our lives today. There will always be a bigger, messier problem to tackle than the one we face now. We need to combine all of our smarts to solve it. Thicket is here to help.

Now is the Time to Take Action

Since election day, we know that: 

  • Social fragmentation is a clear and present danger to ourselves and our communities. Hate crimes have risen by 6% since election day, more than post-9/11. 
  • People who are sick and dying are desperate for change. Public health outcomes, including decreased life expectancy and increased prevalence of obesity, diabetes, heavy drinking, and lack of physical activity, is one of the core voting blocs that brought Trump to power. 
  • People are mobilizing to take action. There are thousands of groups organizing every day since the election, mobilizing to fight hate, protect communities, share resources, and take local action

The Thicket team is ready and willing to help. We’re launching Rebuild Together to help us connect with people who want to take action. 

Go to and share your commitment to local action. By sharing your action, you’ll also help us gather useful data on what people are doing on the ground in different communities. We’ll be releasing this data publicly to help people, organizations, and networks identify issues and actions that are most relevant to their communities and help them plan and rebuild. 

Here’s how we’ll use any data that you share with us through this website:

  • We will create a shareable commitment that includes your name that will be publicly displayed on the website and that you can post to social media channels. 

  • We will summarize and report on data publicly in aggregate for communities to learn what issues and actions are emerging as high priorities. 

  • If you join the campaign by sharing your email address, our team will send you updates about the campaign and future opportunities to take action on the issues you care about. 

  • In January, we will offer campaign subscribers a free account on the Possibility Engine, our social networking platform that helps people take action together. 

Please share your action with us at and help us gather this important data. 

Flourishing Through Feedback

Lifehack Fellows brainstorm barriers and opportunities around wellbeing. 

Lifehack Fellows brainstorm barriers and opportunities around wellbeing. 

Fellows create journey maps for specific impact goals. 

Fellows create journey maps for specific impact goals. 

Lifehack experiments with new approaches to enabling youth wellbeing at the intersection of health and wellbeing science, design, technology and social entrepreneurship. As a youth wellbeing innovation platform where people from different parts of the system come together and learn, share and develop new approaches, projects and ventures, Lifehack maintains young people’s wellbeing at the centre of the process. Their team works alongside young people, whānau (Māori; wider family), communities, individuals and organizations that work with young people--supporting them to develop solutions to the challenges they see around them.

Supported by New Zealand’s Ministry of Social Development, the Lifehack team has developed its programming over the last three years using a social innovation labs model. Its signature fellowship program, the Flourishing Fellowship, is in its third year of building people’s capability to create positive change while building a network and movement of changemakers with the geographic and sectoral reach to radically improve youth wellbeing. 

For its 2016 cohort, Lifehack worked with Thicket Labs to use data-driven design thinking activities to design a framework for quantitative feedback-based evaluation. As we enter the third and final month of the Fellowship program, we're seeing how the process has unearthed new strategic insights for program improvement and led to a deeper understanding of how network effects are influencing the Fellows' collective impact.

Stay tuned as we'll be releasing the results in February 2017 with new interactive visualizations for distilling insights from design thinking activities accompanied by a discussion of how to use design thinking to gather feedback and how to connect those qualitative insights to quantitative evaluations. We'll also address the sensitivity of language in multicultural contexts and why traditional evaluation may need to adapt to apply to social innovation lab programs. 

Research Partnership with Lakehead University

Lakehead University in Thunder Bay in Ontario

Lakehead University in Thunder Bay in Ontario

Since January of this year, Thicket Labs has been assisted by Lakehead University students thanks to our CTO Dr. Vijay Mago's relationship with Lakehead University where he teaches and conducts research in areas including big data, health informatics and complex social systems. 

Our team has benefitted from working with graduate students working at the forefront of computational research and data science. Through our collaboration, we've also found new permanent hires who have made significant contributions to our codebase.

To date, we've worked with three students: 

  • Patrick Joanis, a graduate student whose work with us focused on developing graph similarity and community detection algorithms for social network analysis.
  • Manpreet Singh, a graduate student who developed Java code to link front-end interfaces to MySQL databases and Thicket's APIs on several client-facing products.
  • Erik Tillberg, an undergaduate student who worked on optimizing a significant portion of our APIs after considerable study. We're pleased to have Erik continuing to work with us this Fall and Winter. 

We look forward to continuing our relationship with Lakehead University as the new semester kicks off!

Take a minute to VOTE – SXSW 2017

Last year, Thicket made it out to Austin to talk about tech and disconnected youth. This year, we're very excited to share that Thicket has three proposed talks at the 2017 South by Southwest Interactive Festival in March.

Please help us go to SXSW by voting for our proposed sessions!

Future of Film Experience: Seeing Viewer Emotions

Thicket is working with Dance Films Association to use data visualization to engage audiences. Hear about La Medea, a simultaneous dance-theater performance, made-for-camera Latin variety TV show, and live streamed feature film inspired by Euripides’ Greek tragedy. Find out where technology & audience interaction is leading the film festival experience in the future.

VOTE HEREThe Future of Film Experience

SXSWedu: Youth-Led Problem Solving In Action

Too many education programs aren't directly designed for young people's specific needs. Hear from the TechTank Fellows who helped design the program, and join a strategic problem-solving workshop led by the Fellows to brainstorm ways to involve youth in the program design process.

VOTE HERE—Youth-Led Problem Solving In Action

Hacking the Traditional Tech Talent Pipeline

How do we diversify the tech talent pipeline? Hear about new efforts to bring diversity and inclusion through neighborhood-based pipeline initiatives, tech-enabled mentorship, and employer/trainer partnerships.

VOTE HERE—Hacking the Traditional Tech Talent Pipeline

We'd love your vote — and your help spreading the word! If you haven't yet, please take a minute to register and give us your vote.

What Drives Collaborative Action?

The OpenGov Hub in Washington DC has a community that extends far beyond the 35 member organizations who work at the Hub. As a center for collaboration, learning, and innovation on open government issues, the Hub sees a broad visitor base for its weekly programming and events. The ideas being shared and projects being worked on at the Hub represent an opportunity for shared action that extend far beyond the walls of the Hub.

Thicket Labs was pleased to drop by the OpenGov Hub recently to offer a collaborative mapping demo to explore ways to elevate collaboration within the OpenGov Hub network. Our demo brought together a group of OpenGov Hub members, friends of the Hub and even a few folks who had never been to the Hub before.

Demo participants took a 15-minute survey before we dove into exploring real-time mapping. Participants received personalized insights about how their organization's work relates to the work of others in the room and beyond. Our aim was to help participants contextualize their work in their broader field and identify opportunities for deeper collaboration. Check out some of the results here

Although most of the survey participants were not formally affiliated with the Hub, the mapping exercise identified connections and relationships across the group. We found that 50% of all survey participants were connected to at least one other group as a collaborator or learning partner. Across participants from both inside and outside the Hub, Development Gateway, Global Integrity, and Accountability Lab stood out as information providers to other organizations in the network.

Most of the survey participants identified themselves as working in sectors related international governance and cities & services. Across the participants, use of collaboration and innovation tools and strategies is widespread. Group brainstorming is the norm for most, while tools like rapid prototyping and user testing are less common. Use of collaboration spaces stood out as a particularly essential tool for most, followed closely by use of open data.  

Our mission at Thicket is to help teams excel in high collaboration environments. We build collaborative intelligence technology solutions that bring people together to align on strategy and performance goals and implement results-based management programs. Exploring collaboration processes with the OpenGov Hub community is one of the ways we're moving our own work forward to develop action-oriented collaboration tools.

The Thicket team is looking forward to working with the Hub network to map collaboration workflows and develop solutions to support existing collaborations and spark new ones. We hope to help the OpenGov Hub community work together to accelerate government openness and citizen participation around the world.