I’ve been so privileged to work for a patriarchal family foundation for over a decade. I received impeccable training and I really felt rooted in governance that honored the patriarchy and that created some order, and structure, and some traditional metrics.
It dawned on me during the end of my decade of service that there was something else out there, that there was a new opportunity to have impact, and it wasn’t from a traditional vantage point. It wasn’t from the patriarchal, traditional construct. So, for me, just because of who I am and where I come from, I invited a different mindset, which was being able to integrate this approach, that while feminine in nature, is based not on gender or genitalia, but rooted in feminine values.
What are ‘feminine’ values?
Both men and women could have these values. They don’t come from an authoritative top-down approach like what we had done at the Foundation, and it wasn’t coming down from a place of scarcity, like, ‘oh, we have to fix something and we’re going to force this solution to this problem’. It was more of an opportunity to really have enduring impact in the community, and to ask, ‘who are we really serving?’.
We started to invite opportunities to ask these questions, and to come from a very heart-centric place, from a place of deep intentionality, where we truly and genuinely want all of us to be better. For all of us to have more access to food security, access to quality education (which everyone deserves), access to health care. Now, those might not be our typical areas of interest at the Foundation, but the ability to look at the whole environment, the whole ecosystem, and not just get stuck in our particular traditional verticals was super attractive.
We began asking different questions of ourselves, such as ‘how do we serve the whole community?’, and looking for ways to not make any expectations or assumptions about who we’re serving, but instead really spend time listening to them. We examined how we could work to not have an immediate quick-fix solution but really think more about the issues long term, with an eye on enduring solutions. It’s a reflection of the way women are built to last, we’re built for endurance, and we tend to think not just reacting to the moment but instead really think about what where are we in the context of the world.
It was so significant that in the midst of my work developing Feminine Design Strategy we were faced with Covid, where we were all forced to adapt quickly and to recognize that there are no quick fix solutions to these new challenges. There are only long-term approaches, and we can’t create them in isolation.
The Feminine Design approach is a way of analyzing a challenge or issue more cohesively, more collaboratively, and looking at it from an endurance perspective, more of a longitudinal perspective, and really inviting the people you are serving to be a part of the solution. It’s about taking risks that are not innately comfortable for many people, but I think that for women in particular, for the matriarchy, feminine design strategy is about being bold, about taking risks, and from a traditional feminine perspective that may not be the natural thing that we’ve been conditioned to do. When people – both men and women – combine that natural desire to make things better in the long term with that boldness, great things can happen. That act of getting out of the comfort zone and thinking about things very differently is exactly why Feminine Design Strategy works.
Creating positive disruption and change is much like tossing spaghetti at the wall to see, is it ready yet? It may not all be ready and may not all stick, but if one piece sticks, that’s enough.
Feminine Design is really an invitation to be bold, to take risks, but doing so knowing that you are part of a bigger solution. We try a bunch of things to see what works. It’s really an exciting time, especially where the world is, and we have an opportunity to be a part of the architecture that will design the new paradigm for the future, and Feminine Design is that opportunity.