Eating our own dogfood - individuals

by SF Team, 14 July 2016

Featured Image
Created by David Nguyen (CC BY 2.0)

At the heart of the Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship Programme are two key values - openness, and supporting an individual.

Individuals carry their learnings, experiences, passions and hopes for the future with them throughout their lives. Supporting them to work on what is broken in their world and share their approach openly, equips them to continue to affect change far beyond the life of a specific grant.

Mark Shuttleworth has given the Foundation a clear mandate: Continue to re-imagine the way we work, based on openness and innovation, using the money we have in a smarter fashion. This is a process of experimentation and learning for the Foundation as much as it is for the Fellows who join the programme. Inspired by the Fellowship model itself, our latest iteration includes a shift in the Fellow selection process with the addition of an Honorary Steward.

The Foundation identifies an individual who represents characteristics we value (openness, connectedness and forward thinking) and invites them to act as steward of a particular fellowship round. They bring their unique perspective and experience to selecting the new Fellows. We implemented this for the first time in June for the September 2016 intake of Fellows, with Joi Ito as the first Honorary Steward.

We want the Honorary Steward to bring their own world view based on their knowledge, experience and current context. It influences their selection of Fellows, bringing a fresh perspective and sense of possibility to every round. However, it can also predispose them to selecting certain types of ideas. Joi did a great job of being conscious of it, questioning his own assumptions and being open to applications from outside his frame of reference.

It is our responsibility as the Foundation team to ensure a sense of continuity and character throughout fellowship rounds. We do this by supporting each Steward in their task, compiling a shortlist of exceptional candidates that both meet our core requirements and have a sense of troublemaker about them.

We are looking for ideas that are decidedly off the beaten track. It takes courage and conviction to put yourself out there, to be judged by others, on an idea that is not widely known or accepted yet. It takes the same to select two or three individuals to place your bet on, and to put your name to it publicly.

“It was inspiring and delightful to see all of the fellow applications, and to be able to view them through the progressive and bold lens of the Shuttleworth Foundation. I’m super excited that we were able to find such suitable candidates in such diverse areas, which seem perfect for the opportunities and the challenges that the Fellowship Program presents.” – Joi Ito

We want to thank Joi for the thoughtful way he engaged with us in this process, not only to select exciting new Fellows but also to help us learn and evolve for next time.

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