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Maximizing Positive Impact as a Company

Mission / Vision / Charter
Impact

21 June, 2021

Jean-Benoit Malzac
Jean-Benoit Malzac

Head of Product at Ava

Jean-Benoit Malzac, Head of Product at Ava, believes that social impact is king when at the helm of an influential company.

Problem

Silicon Valley used to have this vibe where people were really trying to rethink society. They wanted to change the way that people communicate with one another and to bring diversity to the industry. This incredible sense of collaboration existed. I was so attracted by this hippie vibe. These people had time and resources and they wanted to build things together.

Now, there is this sense of disappointment where I feel like a lot of these sources of hope and change have just become these huge advertisement machines. The technology is good, but the money is being misused.

In my current start-up, we are trying to challenge this new normal. We take pride in the ethic that we try to bring to our work. We try to have as much positive impact socially as we can.

Actions taken

There is this notion that advertising is evil. You could easily convince somebody that one meal-delivery service is better than the other. But, at the end of the day, what would the point be? None are the best. They all deliver food. Without this service, the world would likely be exactly the same place.

Being a food delivery service is fine, but it’s not a mission that changes lives. Other companies have a bigger mission. I think that we’re entering an era where people are looking more intently at the ways that they may be able to have more social impact through their work.

You don’t need to sell people a job, you need to sell them a mission. A mission is something that they will be more inclined to follow than a job. In a start-up, the mission should be identified early and clarified for each team player. I know very few companies that make this a priority early enough.

Product managers get very excited when they get to see their products in the hands of users. We love feedback. Data does not lie. How many people are using our product? What do they think about it? We can take a step back and really understand why people are having one reaction or another. This gives you insight into how the mission is playing out in actuality.

At my company, we have a module where we showcase user feedback. We have people praising the product and telling us how they use it. We’re able to see how our product has helped them to communicate with their family, or to get a job, for example. We get a really intimate look at the type of impact that we’re really having in our customers’ lives.

When our product makes something possible for a customer, I get very excited. The entire team shares the impact that we have on the world. Success means that we get to continue.

Lessons learned

  • To find your mission, take a closer look at your day-to-day job. Be honest with yourself. What is the mission that you’re working on right now? Reverse engineer what the world would be like if your company did not exist. Would there be any difference?
  • Capitalistic goals are generally much easier to meet than those higher societal goals. To choose money or status over social impact is contrary to why we commit to the type of work that we do. You may actually be destroying value in terms of both social impact and entrepreneurial worth.
  • Organically speaking, I’m very passionate about how things and processes relate to time. I like stepping back, taking a higher-level perspective so that I may better understand how things and events relate to one another.

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