Road to B Champions League

Vinicius De Paula Machado
13 min readMay 9, 2023

Recently, Giannis Antetokounmpo brought up an important line about success and failure during a press interview. He shared that the journey is as or more important than a result that inspires success and that we all need to win and lose if we want a society that is better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

Reflection on the process, the trajectory and the importance of balance and the network are dear to Decah, advocate of collective intelligence as the guide for true impact work. In this article, we want to propose a walk through our history, associating the crossing with the evolution of the most relevant championships in Brazilian, South American and world football / soccer.

The Decah story begins:

  • Carioca: from the generation of regional value, co-creating networks of socio-environmental innovators and entrepreneurs and spaces that developed territories in the city of Rio de Janeiro;
  • Brasileirão: qualification to a national challenge arrives through the Participatory Diagnosis Process with the Sistema B Brazil, where we activate and work B companies around the whole country, bursting our bubble in the southeast;
  • Copa Libertadores: it didn’t take long for Decah’s consistent path to reach the much-desired Copa Libertadores, as an incredible opportunity arises to unite the German Agency for International Cooperation GIZ, Chilean B Corp and the Chilean Ministry of Transport to prepare the Sustainable Mobility Plan for the country. In recent years, we have consistently qualified for the continental competition, participating in the Encuentro+B in Mendoza, Argentina and designing and co-facilitating integration experiences for B entrepreneurs, such as Café LATAM.
  • European Champions League: but eventually the Earth gets small, and now, at the invitation of the B For Good Leaders Summit 2023 in Amsterdam, we are heading towards the “Champions League” of impact in Europe. An event dedicated to Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and one of the 100 most influential people in the world. As CEO of Decah, I was selected as one of 100 leaders from the global south to attend the event.

B Lab For Good Leader is the result of two initiatives: the Social Venture Network, founded in the 1990s as the first international network of sustainable entrepreneurship, and the non-profit organization B Lab, which encourages the certification of companies with corporate social-environmental responsibility.

The event in Amsterdam aims to establish a global cooperative with leaders who choose socio-environmental responsibility as the center of decision-making and focuses on the development of concrete actions for the co-creation of desirable futures. There are 1200 executives from companies around the world sharing their contributions and exchanging knowledge about their impacts on the world from their products and services.

Carioca and Goma

The journey begins with a local commitment, in the pre-Goma phase. It was through HUB Rio that we had our first experience of a community of practice and the possibility of developing facilitation skills. We discover purpose in putting our availability at the service and learning new skills in and for the collective. HUB Rio was an initiative aimed at bringing a coworking space focused on socio-environmental innovation to the city and discussion of possible legacies of the World Cup and Olympics for Rio. From this process and experimentation, it was important to realize that the balance of vocations is fundamental for a community of practice to flourish: consultants, entrepreneurs, facilitators, educators and netweavers — the main impact strategy of a collective like this is the strengthening of the network and the improvement of mindsets and skills to generate impact.

First of the 3 times we received Yunus in Rio

From this learning we felt the call to assemble our Gomático Squadron

The call was to develop the experience of a space as a platform for experimentation on network entrepreneurship. With the logic that, if we were small and young, our greatest chance of survival was through an articulation and culture of exchanging intelligence, resources, products and new tactical formations (joint ventures between professionals and companies). Simply put, build what we call “multidisciplinary teams/squads” in the market to meet emerging and complex demands.

The co-founders of Carioteca (original name of Decah) at the time (me, Marcos Salles and Ushi Araújo) participated in all of Goma’s WGs, supporting the construction of dynamics for decision-making processes, shared governance and deliveries according to the profile of the WGs (infra, events, communication, legal, governance…). Together with the other “gomáticos”, we co-created the rites and cycles of articulations of the collective. From this experimentation, we refined the value proposition of Carioteca. Goma has become an unlimited collaboration platform that has allowed us to experience what Jaime Lerner calls “urban acupuncture” or “territorial affective cartography”. As young people predominantly coming from the south zone of Rio (wealthiest area) to the Port Zone at the time of the transition to Porto Maravilha, there was a great learning process: respect for local histories and vocations, as Little Africa is considered the cradle of the City’s Creative Economy.

Vinicius Machado, Marcos Salles and Ushi Araujo co-founders of Carioteca

The Goma that inhabited the region over the years approached and opened spaces for other initiatives that were already there: Afoxé Filhos de Gandhi, projects from the Sebrae popular business incubator, local artists, Ministry of Culture festivals and exchange of experience with several other collaborative spaces from other regions of the city.

Rio de Janeiro echoes the poetry of being a purgatory of beauty and chaos (getting closer and closer to 50 degrees): we experience several layers of the city superimposed. On the one hand, a fantastic natural beauty and on the other a discrepant distribution of income. Marginal neighborhoods without trees, while spaces in privileged areas receive parks and structures that favor cooler climates and less climatic incidences. Cariocas have a vocation for social innovation because of necessity. And, therefore, dancing in a chaotic scenario guarantees us the resilience to experience other places, contexts and challenges.

The connection with the territory is relevant, because the network’s bond and involvement with it is fundamental to generate true impact. It is not possible to create a sense of community without involvement with territory or without building something together. Subscribing to a service or watching the same type of content does not make us a community if we do not have other layers of engagement and building win-win strategies.

Goma meeting

The experience and co-construction at Goma also brought us the perception that every associate (player in our squad) had the duty and objective of prospering, but always with a collaborative and collective perspective (our entrepreneurial Tiki-taka, the oiled collective game allows individual talent emerges). This differential was responsible for the development of Decah’s muscles for an above-average “network entrepreneurship” quotient. Goma has developed the ability to anticipate market patterns and the attention of the next waves of innovation and trends related to what we now call ESG.

It was from network entrepreneurship that we recognized the abundance of knowledge, practices and authentic methodologies to exchange with other collaborative places that existed in Brazil at that time. It was through the collective work of Goma that we secured a place in the Brasileirão: it was the regional physical space with the largest number of B companies in Brazil (and Latin America) and super present in the then “B Rio Community” of B companies.

At the time, there were many searches for contemporary Goma collaborative experiments, with tactical structures and objectives similar to our way of playing. On our first trip to Europe we met the D Collective in Berlin. They also went to the field in an association format, similar to the management and collaboration proposals we embraced at Goma. They as a network of design thinking experts, we with a broader scope of intentions and practitioners, focusing on new economies, sustainable design and social innovation.

Vini talking at D Collective and Co-founders of D Collective in Goma

The long and consistent seasons in the Brasileirão

The transition to the national reality takes place through the participation of several members of Goma in the B Rio community; through the co-creation of the new formative journey of the B Multipliers program; in facilitating the Strategic Planning of the B Rio Community and in supporting the construction of the rational of the B Rio Community Council. Between 2020 and 2021, there were 9 projects with B companies and 8 pro bono collaborations with the B ecosystem.

Click here to read the full article

A new phase began as a result of our attitudes. Both because we were the only ones to respond to the open calls of Comunidade B Rio, and because of the quality of our provocations and delivery, we were invited to a special and challenging challenge: conducting the participatory diagnosis on the value proposition of Sistema B Brasil/SBB (with the beyond special midfielder from Volta Redonda, thanks Pedro Teles)

The process carried out in the first year of the Coronavirus pandemic lasted 8 months in 3 phases (quantitative, qualitative and co-creative). The main objective was to help SBB understand its vocation and need to deliver value to the more than 210 certified B Corps across the country.

This process can be considered a milestone in the governance of Sistema B Brasil, marking a phase of greater openness, signaling a more horizontal, participatory and networked form. These attributes and practices were one of the main characteristics of the playmaker Francine Lemos’ management, for whom we have a deep admiration, and today she is one of the Co-leaders of B Leaders.

In this diagnosis, together with Sistema B Brasil, we map needs and opportunities in different stakeholders and levels of the institution. We investigated from companies that did not achieve recertification, to CEOs of the 10 largest B Corps in Brazil. It was a privilege to be able to navigate through so many dimensions of SBB and understand different, complex and diverse perceptions of value about certification and about the B ecosystem.

With the emergence of the pandemic, Decah made some moves nationwide: it was one of the first B companies to share content on good practices on the Interdependence platform, created by Sistema B to exchange survival strategies in the critical economic and social period of the lockdown and we assumed the top of the table with the adaptation of our skills for online facilitation and with the sharing of our Digital Facilitation Toolkit, which had more than 100,000 free downloads. So far, our biggest exercise in openness and radical collaboration, delivering the latest and greatest tactical plan to anyone interested.

On the national tour, some of the biggest and most relevant companies went through Decah’s journey and trajectory, as was the case with Globo, Ambev, Boticário, Enel, Red Bull, ClearSale, Africa, McKinsey, and now, more recently, Itaú. In addition to 3rd sector institutions such as Fundação Roberto Marinho, NOSSAS, Greenpeace, CEBDS, Ação Cidadania, Casa Fluminense, Instituto Dara, Sistema B; and governmental institutions such as UNESCO, City Hall of Rio, GIZ (German government) and the Ministry of Transport of Chile.

The possibility of playing in different fields, with different cultures and institutional histories and the most varied challenges, polished our integration and sophisticated our fundamentals and eye for goal, helping an important transition from Carioteca to Decah, where we evolved from league, transcending from hyper specialists from facilitation to a more robust and fullservice consultancy for open innovation journeys, with the objective of:

  • Instrumentalization of leaders with a focus on the transition to impact strategists;
  • Construction of strategic compasses with a focus on impact and core business integration;
  • Versatility to help in different sectors of society, proving our delivery and methodological quality;
  • Strengthen the connection and relevance of institutions within impact ecosystems;
  • Expertise and ownership in some territories such as education, ESG, horizontal and participatory cultures in addition to deep knowledge in impact assessments such as BIA, GRI and CSA.

A process of developing our capacities to guide organizations on their journey towards institutional maturation: the more horizontal the culture, the more multidisciplinary and strong it promotes. Thus, efforts can be directed towards more complex needs and with the need to engage multiple stakeholders when we think about ESG, as an impact thesis, business footprint in the home territory, how to mitigate impact and how to build an eventual regeneration thesis.

And each project, process and work developed by Decah in recent years has been personalized and authentically directed towards each client and their needs. And it was only possible to be in several different championships and territories because of this adaptability, versatility and our commitment to testing methodologies and frameworks interdependently with institutional challenges. Decah’s proof of value lies in its methodological hybridity.

From the Brasileirão to the Libertadores and then to the Champions League

Playing the Brasileirão in an authentic and provocative manner close to Sistema B Brasil brought Decah the expansion of this platform for generating opportunities and impact on Goma’s network beyond Brazil.

In 2021, we entered into a partnership with GIZ and the Chilean B-company Plataforma Áurea, supporting the participatory strategic planning of the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications of Chile to assist in the National Long-Term Plan for Sustainable Urban Mobility.

In 2023, Decah is moving forward with an interest in prospecting for transnational clients so that we can provide support on this journey of structuring impact strategies and instrumentalizing leaders. We are looking for partners for methodological exchange or exchange of B Corp experiences with a focus on consulting and hosts of communities of practice with the purpose of engaging multiple stakeholders with similar pedagogies. Our purpose is to strengthen the netweaving between North Europe and South America.

Reunion with Patagonia

As we commented, the event in this edition is dedicated to Yvon Chouinard, environmentalist, philanthropist, founder of Patagonia and one of the 100 most influential people in the world (according to the 2023 Times) and receives, in addition to him, other influential leaders, such as Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, the Queen Consort of the Netherlands and Pedro Tarak, co-founder of Sistema B.

Decah had the honor to be with Patagonia in 2020, together with ProfilePR and Sistema B, for the opportunity to materialize a very special workshop with Vincent Stanley, Philosophy Director of Patagonia for more than a decade, helping to inspire leaders and a culture of regeneration in one of the most engaged, responsible and admired brands in the world.

We co-created a framework especially for this experience, or “Map of Purpose and Impact Culture”, inspired by the mini-MBA podcast that Vincent himself recorded in four parts with Ryan Honeyman , one of the authors of the ‘B Corp Handbook’

In the framework, we brought, for reflection:

  • How do you create a vision of a desirable future?
  • How do you find your strategic stakeholders in your value chain?
  • How do you work with your strategic stakeholders in your value chain?
  • How do you engage with your stakeholders to strengthen the business, employees and communities in your territories?
  • How do you share your purpose with the world and how do you engage your stakeholder network?
  • How to create a culture with shared values, among peers with different backgrounds and experiences?
  • How do you bring culture into your operations and ensure they are well aligned?
  • Do you have specific approaches or initiatives to make it fluid, or are you just in the loop in culture?
  • How do you use your resources to drive social and ecological improvements?
  • How do you use Impact Assessment B to promote yours?
  • What are your expectations for generating socio-environmental impact?

As CEO of Decah, and selected as one of the 100 leaders from the global south to be at the event, we look forward to sharing our vision of the world, business objectives and exchanging experiences in the search for the corporate universe of collaborative impact at its maximum power.

We understand this process as a 2nd phase of our process of internationalization and expansion of our theory of change, which becomes even more comprehensive with the possibility of articulations of transnational impact.

Decah is one of the pioneering companies within the Brazilian B Corp ecosystem, with the first certification obtained in 2014. We earned a place on the “B Corp Best for the World’’ list for having improved all our socio-environmental impact indicators between 2018 and 2019 , in our 1st Re-certification at the time, reaching 97 points. In our most recent measurement (2022), after review and final verification we reached 126.4 points in the BIA (B Impact Assessment) in our 2nd Re-certification. A considerable improvement placing us at the highest national and global levels within this Assessment, which is seen as one of the most complete and respected today. Currently, there are more than 3,800 B Corps, spread across more than 70 countries and 150 sectors of activity. In Brazil we are 350 companies.

Best For The World 2023, soon we’ll be there.

One of the specific exchange and pollination objectives will be participation in the Sustainable Finance track to map practices and trends in the European / global financial sector and use it to inspire Itaú’s Agenda ESG Integration Journey which is going into its 3rd phase, where we will have 5 sprints for approximately 200 Itubers, helping these leaders to co-create strategic fronts related to ESG being used as a business driver and impact generation.

Photo workshop of the 2nd phase of the Journey Integration agenda ESG Itaú

Special thanks to the Decah Squad

Jess Castro

Marcos Salles

Carline Lessa

Carla Purcino

Simone Santos

Sarah Brito

Rafael Bizachi

Luisa Diebold

Marcelle Domingues

Vitor Barreira

Danilo Filgueiras

Murillo Sabino

Lara Martins

If it’s meant to be, let it be epic

--

--

Vinicius De Paula Machado

Empreendedor social, sócio fundador da Decah uma empresa B que fomenta comportamento colaborativo para catalisar cultura de inovação social