Conscious Innovation

Conscious Innovation

São Paulo, BrazilSão Paulo, Brazil
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Mandalah has been helping organizations of all shapes and sizes throughout the world become sensitive to the changes going on around us and the need to redefine the role business plays not merely within a marketplace, but within society as a whole. Mandalah exists at the magical intersection between profit and purpose.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

I try not to see our work as solving a problem. I prefer to see it as an evolutionary challenge. After decades doing business in a vacuum via Cartesian, mechanistic and short-term thinking, we have come to realize that this modus operandi is not sustainable and that whatever progress we seem to be making is clouded by the catastrophic impact business is having on the planet and on the quality of peoples’ lives. Time to shift gears, adopt a more systemic view of business and understand how commerce can create shared value through common agendas where everyone wins. Helping people become sensitive to this moment of reflection (and inflection) and open to new ways of doing business is at the crux of this evolutionary challenge.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our solution lies in the magical intersection between purpose and profit, where dialogue reigns and value is shared. - Find order in chaos – The world is a complex environment, in constant flux. Either create an illusory sense of stability and try to make everything as secure as possible or accept the chaos and find order within it by quickly adapting. Go with the latter. - Think systemically – No man is an island and the same is even truer for corporations. Time for them to recognize that the ramifications of their actions transcend the marketplace and have a broader, societal component that must not be neglected. - New “C” – We are citizens before consumers. Understanding this will help companies focus on unmet human needs rather than mere consumer aspirations. - Dialogue – Identify those that are usually not on your radar but that are impacted by your business. Hear them out. Empathize. - Share the value – Identify where all stakeholder interests align; win-win opps.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

In 2010 Nike asked us to help develop a systemic vision for the brand in Rio de Janeiro in anticipation of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. We engaged in dialogue with artists, community leaders, athletes, social entrepreneurs, musicians and cultural producers to understand their views on the city as well as their needs and interests as citizens (not just consumers). Based on our findings, we advised Nike on a bottom-up approach based on 2 adjacent principles: sport as a catalyst for social transformation and sport as an integrative force among residents of the city (shared value). Over the past year, a number of initiatives in different neighborhoods were conceived based on this concept, such as: refurbishment of facilities, creation of football training centers, sport competitions, sponsorship of athletes from low income neighborhoods, etc. These activations have had a resounding success and late last year, research conducted by Rio’s main newspaper reported that Nike was the top of mind sports clothing brand among residents of the city. The take-aways from this case are numerous: __Do more, say less – focus on getting things done, connecting with people and less so on selling yourself. __Be the Nudge – always encourage people to do things that are essentially good for them. __Bottom up – start from the bottom, where real change is most necessary, and see your efforts trickle up. __Empower the mobilizers – give resources to those people that are already moving the masses and making things happen. __Be an integrative force – bring people together.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

I do not believe in competition in the traditional sense, where a single player is a threat to one’s survival and prosperity. In fact, to the extent that other well-intentioned companies are emerging, wanting to help organizations do better business, we should celebrate, not only because we were the first to bring this discussion to the forefront back in 2006, but especially since there are still too few of us who think differently to serve the entire market. In terms of differentiation, I would highlight our multidisciplinary team, our humanist approach to all that we do, our creative flair given our Brazilian origins as well as our tireless (and non-negotiable) commitment to only engaging in projects that necessarily improve peoples’ lives.

Founding Story

Fortunately, it seems that everyday is an “Aha” moment, in varying degrees, of course. However, one special moment does in fact stand out. In 2011 we completed a 1-year study for General Motors (GM) on the future of urban mobility, with a focus on developing megacities (cities with more than 10 million inhabitants). We researched renewable fuels, public private partnerships, new technologies and materials, public transport and urban planning. The output of the study was a suite of 32 “better future” scenarios and ironically few, if any, had to do with cars. We were desperately trying to signal to GM that the future of urban mobility went beyond motorized vehicles. A few months after the project, an employee from GM forwarded us an internal memo from GM’s South American President making reference to this study and stating that it was time for GM to transition from “General Motors” to “General Mobility.” They got it. They turned the key and never looked back.
About You
About You
First Name


Tell us about yourself/your team.

Born in New York, raised in a few different countries, and trained at the University of Pennsylvania and Schumacher College (UK), people and places have always left their marks on me. In 2006 I started up Mandalah alongside my friend Igor Botelho. Our mission is to bring new perspectives to how organizations see their roles within society, inviting them to a more systemic discussion on how commerce can be at the service of society’s overall wellbeing.

In 2012, I was:
- Included in Fast Company's list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business;
- Chosen by Trip Magazine as one of 11 Brazilians under 40 changing the country and the world;
- Selected by Época Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Brazilians of the year.

What makes you an intrapreneur? What are the skills, capabilities, and personality traits that make you an intrapreneur?

First off, I believe in the possibility – and power – of change, and that it is always within our reach. I am committed to dialogue as the only effective and genuine means of bringing about sustainable change, as dialogue implies we will “meet in the middle” and co-exist, even in the face of adversity. I have a deep conviction that change must be organic – come from within, from each individual’s consciousness – in order to withstand the test of time. And I believe change is contagious, when people see the benefit in embracing it. Finally, I have a strong intuition that power and love must be balanced – power without love is authoritative, and love without power is anemic. To bring about effective and long-lasting change, both must be in equilibrium.

About Your Organization
Company Country

, SP, São Paulo

Primary country where this project is creating social impact

, SP, São Paulo

Additional countries or regions

Mexico, USA, Germany and Japan


Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Scaling (the next step will be growing impact on a regional or even global scale)

The Solution: Why is this solution innovative for your company and industry?

The approach outlined above is somewhat liberating, as it invites us to leave the office and explore the world first-hand. Frameworks and theories are helpful but experiential, transformative learning is more insightful. This approach also requires us to tap into both our right and left brains, mixing reason with intuition. From an industry-perspective, our approach represents a new mental model aimed at helping businesses do well while doing good.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

As a result of our project, a specific Urban Mobility department was created at GM, consisting of reps from all the major regions, where knowledge was pooled and the 32 innovation opportunities we put forth in our study were subjected to feasibility studies. Quantitatively, it is too early to measure the impact, only because this project is about re-engineering GM’s core activities. Qualitatively, however, we can clearly sense a paradigm shift among GM’s leadership, who are much more open to discuss these alternative futures where cars are not the protagonists. The end result of all this will be that GM will soon be better prepared to offer solutions that effectively and sustainably meet people’s mobility needs as opposed to saturating congested streets with expensive, inefficient and oversized machines that are responsible for respiratory illnesses and ozone layer deterioration. We believe GM professionals stand to gain from this as well as citizens all over the world.

What is your projected impact over the next 1 to 3 years?

In terms of Mandalah as a company, I project our impact along several lines:

- More companies – As we start scaling our business and accumulating a solid track record with organizations of all shapes and sizes, I anticipate that we will manage to engage in more and more relationships with leaders from different organizations.
- More people – As a result of this, more individuals will be impacted by these alternative mental models which we are proposing and as a result, will become the change they want to see in the world.
- More impact – The end result of all this is a world better served by the private sector (and other organizations as well) through solutions that truly improve peoples’ lives.
- More health and happiness – At the end of the day, this is what we’re all after.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Looking forward, the only real barrier that I foresee would come in the form of budget cuts from organizations as a result of a weak economic environment. When things get tough, companies stop investing in innovation, unfortunately. This is somewhat counter-intuitive , in fact: it’s precisely when the going gets rough that you should look to re-invent yourself and do things differently. Since I cannot award pro-bono status to all my clients, I will always run the risk of serving a market with no available cash to invest. Thankfully, I am learning to deal with this now, since markets are lukewarm globally. By keeping my structure lean, I keep my costs low, which allows me to not only pursue more aggressive pricing but attain better margins. It’s about learning to do a lot with a little.

What is the benefit or value you're creating for your business?

For all the different businesses that we service, I feel we are producing an instrument that will help them turn the key and operate successfully in this new environment we are getting acquainted with. Ultimately, the benefit they will reap from continued relevance is strong performance along with a long-lasting legacy. For Mandalah specifically, I feel we are becoming more knowledgeable and conscious to do what we do increasingly better every day.

How are you leveraging internal resources (funds, time, knowledge, etc.) to support this initiative?

From Day 1, we have grown organically, re-investing our profits into our company. We have come to understand over time that our best investments are in people (best-in-class professionals with right/left brain versatility), information technology (integrating our offices and optimizing research capabilities), our office space (where we work, brainstorm, create, eat, socialize and rest), and knowledge acquisition (trips, conferences, courses, literature). We have also developed a vast group of thought leaders who we are in touch with and who support us when we need to evolve our business. And finally, we are investing time, money and energy in consolidating our network of 6 offices, with 2 more offices in sight until 2014.

Expand on your answer, explaining the long-term funding and support plan.

Since what we are doing is still very new and emerging, it is hard to project where all of this will go in the long term. My intuition tells me that we will be able to continue scaling our business without having to turn to outside investors, since we enjoy respectable margins which we are willing to re-invest. Perhaps this is rooted in a belief that we must be careful on how fast we grow so as to not dilute our value proposition, which is essentially what got us to where we are in the first place. There is also no point growing faster than the market's disposition to engage in the types of disruptive conversations we so enthusiastically put forth. As Bruce Lee says "one must flow like water", and so we plan on letting things fall into place without worrying about getting too big too fast.

Tell us about your partnerships across your company and externally that are key to your project's success.

Internally, we all partner up with each other. Everyone gets involved in research, strategy, production and creative work, more or less so depending on nature of project. External relationships include two schools where we teach classes (Escola São Paulo & Fundação Getúlio Vargas), the latter for whom we train a student-led consultancy. We also team up with NGOs and government entities on a project-by-project basis.

What internal support have you gotten for your project? What kind of push-back have you received?

For one reason or another, our value proposition resonates quite strongly with people, both inside and outside the company. Perhaps this can be explained through the increasingly popular notion that it’s time to inject new blood, new energy, and more consciousness into the business world. In terms of push-back, I see it merely as a question of timing; we need to appreciate that not everyone is ready to turn the key.