Purpose + Impact Conference Speaker Series: Andrew Apostola

We look forward to welcoming many fantastic speakers to our Purpose + Impact Conference on 20 November at the Ace Hotel, Sydney.

Now a week away, we spoke with Andrew Apostola, Founder of Portable, on how purpose-driven companies can apply the not-for-profit model, authenticity for brand, and the key points he’ll be discussing with attendees at the event.

How can purpose organizations apply the not-for-profit model to find more opportunities across the community to give back?

We really need to start around asking what is it that exists within not-for-profits (NFPs), that is a driver of good outcomes as an organization. One of the main differentiators is a really clear value proposition that exists, that links to a purpose or an outcome, that in the corporate sphere is often a little bit less clear.

For example, when we’re doing strategy work for more profit-led organizations, the visions for those organizations can often be very directed around metrics-based outcomes that are linked to the bottom line. NFPs don’t operate in that way, they really talk about the end user and the people that they’re serving in their missions. And that’s the real difference.

I think organizations can do that, too, because it would drive more value by having their own employees, their customers and everyone in the internal psychology of the organization, more shifted towards the customer-oriented element. Within the NFP sector, they’re so passionate and so driven around the cause, they lead with the outputs that they’re doing. By looking at those models, you can help shift traditional for-profit organizations.

Really think closely about the place you want to have in the world, your people, and do what NFPs do. We know that margin is really important, and we know that growth is really important. But those can be picked up in other strategic metrics within the organization. The beauty of a NFP is in the centre you have this purpose that is linked to people, and other organizations can learn a lot from that.

How important is authenticity to brand now? How has Portable helped its clients discover that sense of authenticity and set them apart from competitors?

I think the way in which we do it is more the important thing — the methodology. At Portable, our mission is to seek out areas of policy failure and social need, and use design, technology, and research to drive transformational change. And the tool that we use in this space is design, as opposed to a traditional consulting model.

We’re going to speak specifically to the end people that are using your service, and then from that we will use those insights to be able to create an answer to whatever the question is, or proposition. And I think that’s a much more authentic way of navigating or getting towards any kind of solution, but in particular a much more effective way of managing change as well.

So, if you’re talking about how you bring authenticity, it doesn’t matter how authentic you are, if you’re not bringing people on the journey and taking them and successfully managing that change process. In terms of how you build authenticity as a brand, or how you build authenticity from leadership or authenticity from a market perspective, I think the way to do it the best is to speak directly to the people that are using the service, find out what they want, and then involve them in the process that repositions that organization or that strategy.

What are some themes you will you be talking about at the Purpose + Impact Conference, and why are they important to an audience of purpose-driven businesses? 

We wrote a report a few years ago now about advising not-for-profits and how they should be thinking about the space they operate in, particularly from a technology and design perspective. And one of our conclusions and recommendations was think about merging more across the sector, because you have heaps of duplication.

So, we encourage if people are again, really interested in driving outcomes and change then look at what you’re doing and try and find ways to collaborate and partner with other organizations and you might find that it’s better to be working alongside.

I think partnerships are the power to all things. It’s a whole model now in business theory around how by collaborating with your competition, you actually unlock and create vast amounts of value. Because it opens up the door and drives conversations and brings in opportunities to our organization that we wouldn’t otherwise have. It brings in capability to unlock value for the communities they serve. You’ll unlock value, you’ll drive change, and you’ll meet some great people along the way.

And if we’re talking about authenticity, then, then that’s the best way to drive it. I come to you to for friendship and partnership before I know I need you. So when the time does come up for that opportunity, you can legitimately reach across reach across there. As opposed to let’s, let’s be transactional.

Finally, how does Portable use technology to instigate change?

Portable’s mission is to go out there and find areas of social need and policy failure that exists in particularly the NFP sector, or in Government, to drive transformational change over time.

We’re very intentional in that we think that design is a much more powerful, engaging way to create long lasting change: How are we co-designing this together? How are we doing it together where you’re sharing power equally to come up with a solution.

And I think that that’s the power of design, design-thinking and co-design are the right tools to solve the kind of problems we have now. Because a lot of organizations are identifying intractable problems that are really complex, where there is no simple solution. Our organization is really focused in trying to be able to engage in finding people that are having those problems, we’re really intent on creating that change.

We don’t wait as an organization. We go out and do our own work and identify problems we hear from you all, the problems that you’re experiencing.

Want to learn more or say hello?