Photos & Video by Ryan Stopera
Meet Kate Khaled, the founding force behind Imagine Deliver. They’re one of the 12 purpose-driven businesses and organizations that have come together in support of Pollen’s mission to change our collective story for the better. Together, they challenge Pollenites to raise $20,000 by Give to the Max Day on November 14, which they will match dollar for dollar.
All About Imagine Deliver:
The work at Imagine Deliver always comes back to one question: “How can we design solutions that work better for everyone?” asks founder and managing director Kate Khaled. As a strategy consulting firm for the new majority, Imagine Deliver uses creativity and equity-centered design to support leaders as they reimagine new ways of working.
“We show companies how they can achieve their goals while making sure they’re bringing everyone—across the intersections of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, religion, ability, size, or level of education—along with them,” says Kate.
Imagine Deliver believes in the power of people building a better world together. That means it consistently puts people in the driver’s seat, or in their case, the designer’s seat.
“Most strategy work never reaches the community,” says Kate. “Instead, it’s handled by a handful of high-level executives in a boardroom. That’s not how we help clients operate. We trust and elevate the genius and lived experience of folks who experience a problem to dream up the most elegant and efficient solutions.”
POLLEN: What’s the culture of your team, and how have you worked to build and reinforce that culture?
We’re a fast moving startup, and that work requires entrepreneurial ‘builders’ who roll up their sleeves to make good things happen, and a fairly flat hierarchy. We’re a place that embraces direct communication, radical honesty, learning by doing, and an incredibly committed human investment in one another. We keep an eye on each other, asking how the team is doing — and we truly care about getting answers beyond “fine” or “okay” — we want the real answers, not what’s on the surface. We reinforce that in the way we celebrate together frequently (like birthday parties at Top Gold and a team field trip to the Minnesota State Fair), the way we invest in the company with everyone’s voice (at quarterly retreats), the way we stay connected (on a team WhatsApp thread, sharing photos and memes, even when we’re in different locations), and the way we hire (with very detailed and specific job descriptions).
POLLEN: What’s your favorite way to meet new people?
We like to meet people in small groups, with curiosity, laughter and collaboration. That means we like to get to know folks on a human level, not merely a professional one. We’re interested in where someone has been, what gets them inspired and how they feel most energized. Our favorite kind of people are those who are creative, empathetic and solution-oriented. We love learning about and creating environments that pull out those qualities in people. In our own facilitation practice, we always start with interactive activities that humanize. When we know and trust each other as humans, we can build together much more easily.
POLLEN: What is your greatest source of pride in your work?
We’re proud to never take our privilege as consultants for granted. Our consulting practice strives to provide a creative vehicle for underestimated people who, when included centrally in strategy development and design processes, go on to create beautiful and inventive solutions. You can see that in the Saint Paul Public Library project we completed last year that resulted in the library forgiving the fines of more than 51,000 residents, and also in a project we’re working on right now with MSPWin, where a large group of philanthropic leaders will co-design their funding priorities with the young people who are directly affected by their work.
People are sometimes rightfully wary of consultants because they hold a fair amount of external influence on organizations and their leaders. We’re fundamentally shifting the way traditional consulting practice happens to be more inclusive and creative, which ultimately makes our solutions more strategic and beautiful.
POLLEN: What are some of the greatest risks you’ve taken as a small business owner?
Turning down clients that don’t align with our values. If you want a planning process that feels like a serious academic endeavor, we’re not the right partner. If you want one full of joy, experimentation and creativity, and if you want to learn from the voices most affected by your work, then we’re the right fit. When you choose to work with Imagine Deliver, you agree to a fundamental shift in the way you interact with a consultant. That can be really exciting for some people, but it’s not for everyone.
The risk we’re most excited about taking with our clients is our newly launched service, Projet All In (PAI). PAI is a five-day design sprint that helps companies identify immediate changes they can make to attract diverse talent and ensure every employee feels valued, while also creating greater productivity and profitability. This service is both risky and promising because it challenges companies to move beyond conversations and trainings, and into solving workplace problems through experimentation and action.
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Find Imagine Deliver and give them an online hug for supporting Pollen.