We’re more than a design firm. We combine design, social justice, and leadership practice to address pressing issues, equip communities, and inspire social change.
Our Cultural Statements
Our culture is the underlying beliefs, assumptions, values, and ways we interact that contribute to the unique social, psychological environment Design Impact. We’ve co-created these cultural statements to help make explicit the implicit, visible the invisible.
Design Impact’s Staff-led Operations System
We measure our impact by evaluating how people’s mindsets, actions, and conditions change over time. For conditions to change, we must first change our actions and mindsets. Learn more about how we measure our impact in our 10-year reflection.
The cumulative impact of DI’s work is represented through the integration of these measures. While the concepts of creativity, equity, and leadership informed the crafting of these lists of more than 100 indicators, we strongly believe all three must intersect as we work toward sustainable social change. Click this link to download the summary.
Self-Organization is not a startling new feature of the world. It is the way the world has created itself for billions of years. In all of human activity, self organization is how we began. It is what we do until we interfere with the process and try to control one another.”
Margaret J. Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers, A Simpler Way
Once we decided to embrace change from this new perspective, we could focus on what was actually needed to support our staff, and in turn, the communities impacted by our projects. We rejected the commonly held belief that nonprofits should have a low overhead rate (less than 20%). Instead, we invested in our team.
We chose to pay more than living wages; we invested in our teams’ learning to strengthen the quality of our work. And we invested our time deepening our understanding of systemic challenges facing our communities.
Five Ways DI has Embraced Change
1. Complex systems change requires a holistic approach. So we assembled a multidisciplinary team of researchers, designers, educators, organizers, and strategists who work together on each project.
2. Facing inequity and complex social changes can make us tired, overstretched, traumatized, and worn down. So we moved to a four-day workweek to give ourselves time to breathe, process, and just live.
3. We recognize the harm caused by scarcity mindsets. So we make decisions based on trust and abundance with one another.
4. Strategic plans and static evaluative models limit our ability to adapt quickly in the face of complexity. So we designed a flexible work model that allows us to continually innovate on what we are doing without the need for top-down approval.
5. Our team is made up of trustworthy, intelligent humans. So we designed a decentralized model so that all members of our team hold power in the organization and play a core role envisioning our future.
WHAT IF POWER WASN’T A ZERO SUM GAME? WHAT IF WE COULD CREATE ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE AND PRACTICES THAT DIDN’T NEED EMPOWERMENT BECAUSE, BY DESIGN, EVERYBODY WAS POWERFUL AND NOBODY WAS POWERLESS?
Frédéric Laloux, Reinventing Organizations