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Untangling the Many Pathways to Scale

innovation practice innovation scaling sector - aid and development Jan 07, 2024

Once you have a promising and successful pilot, the natural next question is 'How can I get this out in the world and scale its success?"   This is a driving concern for almost every innovator, but has a particular urgency for innovators working humanitarian and development aid.  Live literally depend on their innovations scaling up and delivering real world impact.  

For some time, the assumption was that there was a 'right way' to scale innovations. Perhaps a project management approach that could be learned and applied, which would consistently deliver success.  Unfortunately, the search for a single silver bullet solution hasn't fit with the reality of scaling innovations in complex messy real world contexts. 

When as part of the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation, Lesley Bourne, Alice Obrecht and I looked at the reality of different innovation journeys to scale, what we found was not a single replicable path.  Instead, each innovation had its own set of unique challenges and issues to navigate.  They had to tailor a specific creative journey across multiple dimensions to build a complete working ecosystem around their solution.  

The implications of these many pathways to scale are significant.  It isn't possible to develop program governance using a one size fits all approach, nor can innovators rely on a set of standardized best practice answers to magically transform their pilot to a working solution.  Instead the journey for each innovator must be individually architected and navigated.  In effect, going to scale requires innovators to become skilled ecosystem innovators, with all the power an challenges that represents.   

The original GAHI paper was presented at the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week conference in Geneva and published by EHLRA.   

Untangling the Many Pathways to Scale - GAHI

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