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Cici is currently an innovation strategist at The Upside, an innovation consultancy based in London, with a mission to create upsides (positive impact) in the world. Her journey has seen her work in startups across London, creative schools in Brazil, and as a graphic designer. Her personal mission is to create desirable futures and her hope is to see more empathy and humility in the world.

Cici holding a leaf

Can you relate to the idea of ripples in your everyday practice?


Definitely, I can relate to the idea of ripples in my everyday practice. I think you can look at this from different perspectives, I’m just going to speak of two that come straight to mind. 


The first; I think an idea is like a seed, a domino or like a ripple. You can express that idea, and even if it isn’t something that the client or the project goes for, it could initiate something else, it can spark something in somebody else, create a completely different idea that you wouldn’t have imagined. By all means you can always return back to that ripple and initial idea at another time, it’s never really lost. So I think that’s interesting, and really important – to have the ability and the openness and really the courage to share some of those ideas that you have, even if you think they might be stupid, someone else can take them and build upon them, and make them beautiful. That’s the beauty that lies in collaboration, and creating a safe space within a team to share these incredible things called ideas, that create ripple effects.


I think that’s really important – to have the ability and the openness and really the courage to share some of those ideas that you have, even if you think they might be stupid, someone else can take them and build upon them, and make them beautiful. That’s the beauty that lies in collaboration


Then secondly, I see ripples present in my everyday life when I think about bringing an intention to my work. I think it’s also so important, if you practice ‘envisioning’ your day, you try to put yourself in a positive mindset and think: ‘Okay, this is gonna go well’, or think about something in a positive framework, and be open to change, the outcome can be surprising. I think it also doesn’t just affect your work but it affects the people you work with – energy doesn’t lie, and an intention can change how the whole day is kind of lived and breathed. Your intention creates those ripple effects.


What ripples has your work caused and how far-reaching are these?


I love this question and I think it even attaches onto the question before in terms of ripple effects etc. How far reaching are these ripples? Hmmm, so a project that I had the privilege of working on last year, or maybe even the year before, was a project with a global sports brand, and they were looking at some of the barriers that women face when trying to do sport. One of those was considering women that live in cities and the increasing amount of air pollution, we were looking especially in the east, and countries that wear masks, or even looking to the future and thinking about what a mask would look like if this brand was going to create it. 


Anyway, we put a lot of research & work into it, but unfortunately the project was paused and deprioritised. But now, during COVID19 that research was used whilst they were researching how they were going to create their mask which they launched a few days ago, which was really great in terms of ripples, because that work has now created that mask, which is now in thousands of peoples homes. When I received one the other day, it was a truly beautiful moment, to believe our thinking had an input into that. I think it’s always amazing to see the live product, or idea come to life. That’s definitely one of the projects or pieces of work I can think of that had far-reaching ripples.


What ripples do you see occurring in the future?


In terms of ripples I see occurring in the future, I think a lot of what is happening now will really affect us in the future, it’s already affecting us. I think it will change and challenge so many systems and structures, maybe it won’t change everything, but it will challenge. And I think it’s up to various individuals on how they choose to respond, whether it’s in their work life or in their relationships, or their relationship with themselves with their homes, with their cities, with the global community, with health. And I think that’s not only for COVID right now, but also what’s happening with the Black Lives Matter movement, I think that is creating ripple effects. Many communities around the world are seeing this, it’s very close to home and very close to various countries, realities and systems; racism that is structural and is within so much of society. So I think in terms of ripples, that will occur and continue to occur, which is so needed right now.


What does it feel like when a ripple of inspiration hits you”


Wow, what a question. I love it. I think really, the way I would describe it is, there’s definitely a feeling of excitement. And I think the way that I’m learning that my mind works is I like to connect dots, think fast, and have ideas in many directions. So, if I am going to use the analogy of throwing a rock into water, when that first impact happens, that excitement hits, then those ripples start to naturally occur, a string of ideas or various other ideas come up. 


I think there’s also a feeling of hope, and a feeling of interconnectivity in the way that you kind of have this bird’s eye view perspective when you are in that mindset, you get to almost come out of the mundane and see something from a different perspective and see it for what it is. I think it just makes me feel connected to the world around me, connected to something, to a source of creativity. I believe it’s like a muscle, you have to build it and a lot of the time, these ideas come from random explorations and meanderings. It might be from listening to a random podcast, seeing something, hearing something, it can come from anywhere, but it’s just being open to it and kind of, you know, being able to have that kind of background data or almost like this storage that you have in your mind that you’re able to connect things. I think that is really special and kind of magical to experience.


Actions cause ripples of any kind, how do you action care into your work?


Something that I try to do to action care is to question & challenge. I think each one of us has our own voice, our own stories, each one of us has that responsibility of bringing your perspective and story to the table. And if you have a seat at a table, it’s also being aware of that, and being conscious that there may be many other voices and perspectives that are not being heard. 


I think many of our structures were built with the eyes and tools of the past, and mostly that has been white eyes, and white male tools, it’s also very much dated. So much of business terminology is manufacturing based, education systems based on the industrial revolution, it’s all old, not everything is broken – but a lot of it is. So I believe you need to ask those questions, and really take note to not accept what you see, even if it was in your MBA textbook. So I try to challenge and question, and make sure to try and open my eyes, heart and mind to the other people that I share this world with. I think that is the care I’d like to see in the workplace, so I try to do that. My favourite question is why?; simple but it gets you places.