Tools & Tips to Impactful Design
Design for impact — Lead from the future as it emerges
Coaching mission-driven founders is a very peculiar journey, one I am deeply grateful for and definitely not for the faint of heart. Integrating a Purpose dimension to the Entrepreneurship equation makes for a more meaningful yet more challenging experience as if choosing an entrepreneurial path was not sufficiently demanding per se.
Any coach embracing this magic evolutionary path understands he/she is embarking for something greater than him/herself, with a founder (or founding team) who is on a deep self — actualization quest that requires the design of a generative-ecosystem that will allow him/her to manifest and deliver, in the outer world, his/her contribution for the greater good, while nourishing his/her developmental inner-quest.
This is not “only” (excuse my French…) about finding product/service /founder market-fit and scaling sustainably, which in itself already constitutes an amazing achievement; considering that a staggering 90% of start-ups and new businesses fail and for one main reason: lack of product/market-fit.
Solving the world’s most pregnant issues as illustrated in the 17 SDGs table (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) requires addressing considerations such as magnitude (e.g., serving an entire country or even the world population) and complexity (Stages of economic development, education, belief systems, cultures, and people, technology and infrastructure, multilateral relationships, multi-level interconnections, constant change …) that do not respond well to the proverbial “the riches are in the niches” modern-marketing-mantra according to which, businesses with adequate market-positioning and congruent offerings for their niches, find their market-fit zone and therefore thrive economically. Serving a narrow niche profitably is not the purpose here.
When observing how most businesses are operated, a disconcerting and pervasive scenario is at play. Analytical skills get diligently applied to unrelated areas of expertise and create silos instead of flow. Outdated paradigms, technical solutions based on historical data and experiences are relied upon unquestioned about their actual relevance. Leaders depend heavily on linear goal-and-strategy setting frameworks (developed by distinguished practitioners in their own times) to manage companies and steer them into the future. In contrast, such tools are mainly suitable for achieving simple outcomes and implementing simple tasks governed by “cause & effect rules.” Indeed, reality rarely unfolds linearly and according to plans built on over-simplifying constructs and assumptions to the tune of “everything else being equal”.
Constant change is the tempo of our modern times. The rate of change is accelerating exponentially, and businesses now need to Reinvent themselves every 3 years on average to thrive in the current competitive landscape.
Dr. Nadya Zhexembayeva, founder of The Chief Reinvention Officer, developed tools and methods that are particularly relevant in times of instability and uncertainty periods.
Designing for Impact requires non-linear, human-centric, context-integrative, iterative approaches that mobilize interpersonal and envisioning skills, acute levels of awareness, and intimate understanding and experience of the underlying mechanisms and forces controlling/influencing existing problems to recalibrate action taking in the moment and solve those problems.
Design thinking methods are particularly adapted to designing for impact. They have been developed and implemented widely. I share an introduction video to Design Thinking by Professor Jeanne Liedtka at the University of Virginia (yes, I am biased, UVA being my alma mater).
Another resourceful place to learn about design thinking is IDEO U.
At this level of consciousness, an entrepreneur is not trying to make things happen or get things done alone by “hustling” hard and pushing against “what is” without discernment. On the contrary, business ventures become channels through which what is already wanting to emerge is allowed to come forth and form a supportive ecosystem.
Not surprisingly, women-founders are naturally gifted at birthing the new and harnessing their creative feminine energies, strengths, and power.
Theory U, developed by Otto Scharmer at the Presencing Institute, provides a useful map for entrepreneurs who want to Lead From the Future As It Emerges.
The quality of relationships built around alignment, common values, and trust, granular knowledge of the situation to be solved, connectedness at the team level as well as to the wider ecosystem of stakeholders who can form a resourceful movement of support for the entrepreneur seeking to impact the world, constitutes the portal to entrepreneurial value creation when purpose and the greater good are at stake.
Mindset mastery is critical for entrepreneurs. They will be deploying significant amounts of energy and efforts to implement a vision and project milestones that most probably will not meet profitability in the short to medium term and will have difficulty accessing traditional commercial sources of financing to scale.
Entrepreneurial “Impact” goes beyond the traditional definition of what a successful business is by considering the environmental, social, and financial benefits delivered by the business. Entrepreneurs engaging on the Impact path usually seek out like-minded Impact Investors who share their vision of the world. However, gaining support from all parts of society and combining resources (also referred to as blended finance), including various sources/nature of funding (including equity, debt, catalytic capital, grants, and guarantee mechanisms …), is the only way to tackle the world’s most pressing issues, thus the importance of going beyond one’s impact-inner-circle of relationships and engaging at large.
By Coaching mission-driven entrepreneurs and supporting impact investors, particularly at the fundraising stage, I can scale my personal impact, self-actualize, and fulfill my destiny. This is why I would not trade places despite the challenges of the path I have chosen. I believe this piece came to me so that I would shed more light on the critical part mission-driven entrepreneurs can take in shaping the future of civilizations.
Florence His, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Florence leads Business4People, an advisory, marketing, coaching, and investor relations platform she founded in Paris (FR) to support Mission-Driven Founders and Impact Investors internationally. She serves as Director of Marketing and Head of Impact Investment at Crito Capital, a boutique Placement Agent headquartered in New-York with a presence in London and focused on providing advice and capital raising services to small/mid-cap Private Fund Managers and Companies in the US, Europe, and Emerging Markets. Finally, she is also active as a Mentor and Global Partner at the Entrepreneurs Institute on their GeniusU online education platform. Florence spent over 17 years in the investment, private equity, M&A, and risk management functional disciplines leading multidisciplinary teams prior to embracing the entrepreneurial path. She holds an undergraduate degree in organizational psychology from Yale University, an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business Administration, a Mastersdegree in Sustainable Studies from the International Institute of Management in Paris and speaks six languages.
Originally published at https://www.brainzmagazine.com on February 3, 2021.