We Pursue Social Impact

We act as catalysts for big ideas.

Organizations — non-profit actors, philanthropies, companies — pursuing change at a systems level must think of themselves as catalysts, initiating and accelerating “chemical reactions” in the ecosystems they inhabit. The work of systems change often unfolds over long time horizons and requires a diverse “we” made up of a range of stakeholders bigger than any one organization.

Much of our work is in this catalytic mode:

  • We serve as strategic advisors to leaders and innovators in the social sector
  • In partnership with foundations and with actors across sectors, we play a catalyst role in advancing systems change
  • Many of the ventures in our portfolio are built to achieve significant social impact as well as financial value

Traditional corporate strategy puts the institution in the foreground and asks how that institution can create and realize the most value. Strategy in the context of systems change places in the foreground a large outcome in the world, recognizing that achieving this outcome will require an interlocking system of actors and treating institutional context as an instrument in this pursuit.

For any endeavor of this kind, time is the medium in which change occurs. Strategy for systems change must frame the long arc of how big goals can be achieved, as well as the work that can be done now in today’s conditions and with today’s resources. Achieving ambitious long-term goals requires reaching interim milestones that enable the next phase of success. No matter how momentous the goals of an endeavor might be, it can only progress by graduating from one era to the next, where each era is characterized by a clear set of pivotal achievements that build the foundation for the next level of work.

Our work in systems change has been diverse, including advancing the potential of data science to accelerate social progress, building the movement to strengthen national service, improving the effectiveness of the federal government, and expanding the ecosystem of solutions that can improve youth employment outcomes.

A selection of our partners