INSPIRED IMPACT is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to purpose-driven organizations and passionate leaders and entrepreneurs who are making an impact in their communities and industries.
Corey Kohn is the founder and member-owner of dojo4. Follow them at @dojo4 and on Facebook @dojo4codeanddesign. Learn more about dojo4 at dojo4.com.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
We are a B Corp and worker-owned co-op that builds software: web applications, mobile web applications, iOS and Android native mobile applications, and beautiful responsive web sites. We do everything in house including brand identity, concepting, writing, design, development, and managed hosting. We specialize in those applications that require hard problems to be solved or big data to be crunched, and those web sites that require ultra-high availability, ultra-high performance, and extreme security.
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
Our mission is to amplify the work of the world’s most impactful organizations through connecting rigorous minds to purposeful work. We believe that technology and design products should be a reflection of the human care and intellect that helped to craft them, so that other humans can use them well.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
We make impact by:
* creating exemplary technology and design products;
* building technology that furthers positive social transformation;
* doing purposeful work that allows us to accomplish our personal aspirations;
* refraining from causing harm by releasing shoddy code, implementing misguided design, or letting our relationships go untended;
* fostering trusting, rigorous and joyful human relationships that bring value to our company, our professional partners and our community;
* maintaining a sustainable, well-run business that supports a small group of excellent engineers, designers and their families.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
We are inspired by smart, compassionate people everywhere who find ingenious ways to actively help people and our environment, by providing solutions to real problems. We’re inspired do our best work when it engages real problems, when we are helping create a world where no one is limited by their circumstance.
WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
Our biggest dream for dojo4 is to have it continue to thrive and to be a model for how people can use small business as a way of cultivating social, environmental and economic wealth. We would like to inspire others to create communities of practice that allow people to do purposeful work based on what they do well.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
The biggest resource we have and need is trust. We have to trust each other to do good work, our clients have to trust us to do what’s best for their objectives, we have to trust that we will attract good collaborators and we have to trust that we have taken a business path that will continue to allow us to do meaningful, lucrative work. Ongoing trust leads to ongoing budgetary resources, and those resources will allow us to be most creative and expansive with our work.
WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
Our biggest challenge is maintaining clarity about what impact means, sticking with it and bringing our clients along with us. At first we had a pretty clear idea that we wanted to work exclusively with clients that were making a positive societal or environmental impact. But it’s never that simple. We quickly learned that just because a client was doing that kind of work, that did not mean that we were necessarily a good fit for one another. As technologists we often have the access to see that what might look good from the outside might not actually be doing much good once you look under the hood into the technology or business practices. Or sometimes there’s just a difference in approach for which we could not provide the best support. Also, our idea of working exclusively with ‘impact clients’ meant that we were counting out the possibility of working collaboratively with more conventional clients to make their products more impactful. We realized that, for us, impact really means doing purposeful work. It means that we are enlivened and inspired by our work and bring that to our relationships with our clients and each other. It means creating trusting relationships that allow good technology and design to inform the impact that companies and their products can create. It means sticking to our gut feelings, not being simplistic about ideology, and always practicing rigor in our craft. It means we can never be lazy. That’s a valuable challenge.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Our work is inherently meaningful and impactful when we enjoy doing it and can learn from each other. Our businesses are important mediums for treating each other and ourselves well. What we do best provides value for our communities, our professional partners and ourselves when it is performed in an environment that prioritizes integrity, knowledge and humor. Also: become a B Corp! It’s one of the best things we’ve done for our business, in terms of marketing, networking, employee engagement, setting social and environmental standards and giving ourselves a roadmap for building our organization. And consider diversifying the ownership of your business and become a member-owned co-operative. It’s an exit strategy that allows you to maintain some ownership while opening it up to other people who truly care about its ongoing success.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
Hire us to build the technology you need! Or just get in touch and form a relationship.
Orapin Marketing + Public Relations serves those who serve others. We help purpose-driven companies and nonprofits get the attention and recognition they deserve for the impact they make by securing press coverage, strategic partnerships, and thought leadership opportunities.