Positive Impact. Dynamic4: The 20th Year

Ben Pecotich

Positive Impact is one of Dynamic4’s core values and guiding principles. What does that mean for us? “Be positive, reliable, and trustworthy. Work with positive people. Nurture long term relationships. Be sustainable and look after the environment”. It’s taken us a while but we’ve finally put together our first impact report, which shares more of our story and what this looks like in practice.

This impact report is our first iteration and something we’ll continue to refine as we get better at measuring our outcomes. It’s a picture of our focus and some of the work we’ve done over the past few years – rather than being a year in review or evaluation and measurement report.

Positive Impact & The Role of Business

Business over the past 250 years since the industrial revolution has transformed our societies, our economies, and our planet. During this time life expectancy has more than doubled and quality of life has increased dramatically for many – but not for all. The profit motive has continued to centralise power and wealth and there’s a tragic track record of business exploiting people and polluting our planet to maximise profit – to the benefit of a small number of executives and shareholders.

The way businesses have operated has been central to creating or worsening many of the problems we experience today but also has the power to create so much positive impact. When the interests of people and communities are genuinely valued, shared prosperity is created. When businesses value clean and healthy land, water, air, and nature – they make decisions that nurture our planet and life on it, and take steps to not just to be carbon neutral – but climate positive.

The expectation of business is shifting. The evidence shows that talent, customers, and investors are increasingly expecting businesses to do great things for both communities and our planet while making money.

At Dynamic4, we’re focused on helping accelerate this transition.

Dynamic4’s Vision

Organisations and leaders solve problems that matter in more empathic and innovative ways – and measure success in outcomes for people, our planet, and prosperity.

People and communities have increasing quality of life, are happier, and live on a planet that is cleaner and healthier.

Dynamic4’s Theory of Change

Dynamic4’s theory of change in simplest terms is:

If businesses and leaders solve problems that matter in more empathic and innovative ways and measure success not just in profit – but equally in outcomes for people and our planet…

Then people will have increasing quality of life, be happier, and live on a planet that is cleaner and healthier.

Impacts

The impacts we contribute to are:

  • People
    • happier, healthier, more empathic, and feel connected to their communities and nature
    • value diversity, being included and inclusive
    • feel in control of their lives: strong, resilient, and adaptable
  • Prosperity
    • a fair and inclusive economy with opportunities for decent and meaningful work
  • Planet
    • our planet (land, water, air, nature) is cleaner and healthier

Outcomes

The outcomes we help create are:

  • Social enterprise and purpose-driven organisations move forward with more confidence based on evidence, insight, and empathy to deliver sustainable impact
  • Business decisions are made with more empathy, focused on solving problems that matter, and create real value for people and our planet – alongside profit
  • People who are happier and healthier, more empathic and inclusive, connected to nature, and feel in control of their lives

We primarily align our work with five SDGs.

What We Do

What do we actually do? Dynamic4 is a social enterprise and certified B Corp focused on design and innovation for happier communities. Our purpose is to help create the conditions for people and communities to be more empowered and inclusive, and live in more sustainable ways.

We do this by coaching social enterprise/startup founders, NFP, local government, and corporate leaders, and business, design, and innovation students​ to solve problems that matter in more empathic and innovative ways. We also collaborate with people to design and build business, product, and service ideas for a happier future.

The key roles we play include

  • Coaching & advice
  • Digital design & build
  • Ecosystem builder


Social Investment

Dynamic4 is committed to sustainable positive change for people and our planet. We do this by embedding impact in everything we do – which includes working with clients who follow ethical and sustainable business practices, and by working on projects focused on making a positive impact.

In addition to this we commit a pool of at least 10% of our annual revenue to invest in actively supporting ideas for happier communities that are more empowered, inclusive, and sustainable. We invest some of this investment pool in the form of grants through Dynamic4 Good, and some by taking an equity position through Dynamic4 Ventures.

Since founding these programs in 2013, we’re proud to have invested over $1,000,000 in social enterprises and purpose-driven organisations.

Climate Positive

In 2019, Dynamic4 was one of the 533 B Corps who publicly committed to net zero emissions by the year 2030 at COP25. We take this commitment seriously. Since 2010 we’ve consistently minimised our carbon impact and offset 20% more than our calculated emissions. We’re proud to have been climate positive since 2010 and will continue this commitment over the next decade and beyond.

We also encourage our clients, partners, and communities to take meaningful climate action. This is a key consideration for us when selecting our suppliers. Moving forward, we’ll continue to explore ways to advocate for our environment and champion meaningful climate action to secure the health of our planet and life on it.

What I’ve Learnt

Positive Impact is a Team Sport

We don’t need heropreneurs, we need connected and collaborative ecosystems. Daniela Papi-Thornton talked about this in her Tackling Heropreneurship article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review – and makes many good points.

It’s important to find your community and collaborate. I felt like my purpose-driven community grew exponentially at the 2015 Purpose conference in Sydney. It was a relatively small and intimate audience that first year, but very engaged and connected. I miss it.

Other communities I love being part of include B Corp and the B Corp Climate Collective, SECNA, Catalyst 2030, and Sydney Design Thinking. Sometimes the community doesn’t exist yet and it needs work to convene and organise. I know and value the power of community, which is why I invest so much of my energy in helping build them.

I’m a co-founder of Sydney Design Thinking meetup, which we started in 2015. It’s amazing to see how it’s grown into a connected and active community of 8,000+ people now. I’m a founding board member of the Social Enterprise Council of NSW & ACT (SECNA), and we’re now a growing community of over 150 members. I was also heavily involved in getting B Local Sydney setup to help the B Corp community in Sydney and surrounds get more connected.

Come and join us! If the community you’re looking for doesn’t already exist, why not spend some time bringing some people to together.

Measurement is Hard

As I mentioned, this impact report is our first iteration and something we’ll continue to refine as we get better at measuring our outcomes. While we’re clear on our theory of change and have clear metrics for some of our outputs, working out how to objectively measure the specific outcomes we help create is really tricky… it’s something we’re still working on!

Reflect, Iterate & Evolve

Since I founded Dynamic4 in 2001, we’ve continually evolved to embed more positive impact in the way we operate and the projects we work on. In the past decade we’ve developed and refined our theory of change, become a certified B Corp, and invested at least 10% of our annual revenue in actively supporting early-stage social enterprise ideas.

As Dynamic4 approaches its 20th year and we find our path through these challenging and turbulent times, I feel confident we’re doing work that really matters. The expectation of business is shifting, and momentum is building. I’m focused on continuing to help accelerate this transition.

I’d like to take a moment to thank all of our clients, partners, and the communities we work with. We love working with values aligned people to collaborate on creating a positive impact and I feel very lucky to be on this journey with you.


Dynamic4: The 20th Year

It seems a good time to reflect on the journey so far and some key things I’ve learnt on the way. This is Part 5 in a blog series as we count down to our 20th birthday on 1 October 2021.