Moving Your Organization Towards Doing Good


At FiveStone, we often meet clients at some point on their journey toward actively providing a positive impact. Where they fall on the spectrum of doing less bad to actively doing good varies, but they are all trying to move further to the left.

Regardless of where the client falls on the spectrum—or where they want to go—navigating these shifts is primarily an imaginative and strategic expedition. Throughout the project, we face the realities of where the vision points versus what the organizational strategy supports and what the audience wants.

The tension between these realities leads us to more robust ideas, thoughtful compromises, inclusive strategies, and resonant creative.

We are frequently asked, “How do you navigate this tension and achieve these results?” The question comes up so often that we thought we’d share some of our thinking.

It boils down to applying a series of lenses that help bring clarity and direction to our thinking.

Cultural - Right Context

What is going on around us? What can we learn from the past?

Studying the landscape we live in is often apparent, but we also have a responsibility to understand the history surrounding our work as we consider prior solutions, historical circumstances, and cultural influences.

The cultural lens looks for intersections where the present connects with the past to create new opportunities.

This work looks like:

  • Current and historical analogs

  • Trend trajectory analysis

  • Examination of social influences

  • Audience ethnography

“Once you ask if there is meaning, the only answer is yes. You can’t get away from it. ”

Marilynne Robinson

Philosophical - Right Thinking

What do thoughtful voices say?

When making any shift on the positive impact spectrum, there are various divergent voices with differing thoughts on what is the “right” thinking. To establish a direction, we need to understand the voices in the space and then align around a school of thought that best captures what we believe.

The philosophical lens helps us clarify and strengthen what we believe and establish our “right” thinking.

This work looks like:

  • Publication review

  • Historical analysis

  • Expert panels

  • Peer review

Organizational - Right Strategy

What will the strategies and goals of the organization allow?

Ultimately, whatever solutions we arrive at are bound by the organization's strategy and goals. No matter how thoughtful, engaging, and desirable our solution is, it must support the organization in the right ways to succeed.

The organizational lens helps us align our solutions with what is best for the organization. This work looks like:

This work looks like:

  • Decision mapping

  • Internal immersion

  • Analytics audit

  • Internal leadership committee

Aspirational - Right Intent

Regardless of any constraints, what should we do?

Ideally, we are not simply reflecting what is; but instead pushing towards something better. Any leftward move on the spectrum creates a vision for what could be in culture. So, what is that vision? What could be?

The aspirational lens pulls everything into focus and sets right intent for our solutions.

This work looks like:

  • Planning sessions

  • Ideation workshops

  • Prototyping

  • Testing and iterating

A good solution looks through these lenses to call people into something new, better, and different, giving them a version of the world they want to be a part of.