Maximise the impact of your innovation
If you have evidence that your solution is addressing a widespread need, scaling its use and increasing its impact could significantly reduce human suffering in humanitarian crises. We define scale as building on demonstrated successes to ensure that solutions reach their maximum potential, have the greatest possible impact, and lead to widespread change.
It is important to note that this definition does not set a numerical benchmark. Some solutions may be context specific or only designed to address a small problem, and in these instances the scope for scale might be limited. There are three indicators of when you may be on the pathway to scaling, but they may not all be needed:
- Are you looking to expand into multiple contexts?
- Are you looking to have your solution implemented/delivered by multiple implementing organisations?
- Are you setting goals of reaching a sizable proportion of the users/target groups affected by the problem your solution addresses?
Before you embark on the scaling journey, it is important to know some of the challenges that you may face. Our ‘Too Tough to Scale’ report identifies five key challenge areas:
- Challenge 1: Too few humanitarian innovations are geared to scale
- Challenge 2: The humanitarian sector has insufficient embedded knowledge and skills for supporting innovations to scale
- Challenge 3: There is a lack of appropriate and adequate funding for scaling innovation in the sector
- Challenge 4: There is insufficient evidence of the impact of humanitarian innovations
- Challenge 5: The humanitarian ecosystem significantly frustrates efforts to scale humanitarian innovation
We recommend you read this report to gain a good appreciation of these challenges, and assess how they might apply to your innovation, organisation and the impact you are trying to achieve.
There are a number of other background reports and publications that provide different frameworks and high level guidance on innovation scaling theory and practice.
John Bessant, Accelerating Diffusion
A primer providing guidance on how to apply Rogers Diffusion theory which underpins a lot of thinking and practice on scale
Spring Impact, Social Replication Toolkit
A toolkit for scaling social innovation through replication
Social Enterprise UK, Social Franchising Manual
A manual for scaling social innovation through a franchising/licensing model
FSG, Beyond the Pioneer
A report looking at structural barriers that hinder the scaling of innovations, identifying barriers in relation to the ‘firm’, ‘value chain’, ‘public goods’ and ‘government’
Nesta, Making it Big
A paper that is often cited for it’s spiral diagram framework (which is adapted from The Open Book on Social Innovation) outlining an innovation journey. However, it also includes a very useful diagram of the components a scaling strategy. This is a good reference for use during the Scale Strategy module
MSI, Scaling up – From Vision to Large-Scale Change
A useful toolkit for scaling. We point you towards its scaling checklist in a later exercise, and we would particularly recommend that you read and think through the section on preconditions for scale (pp18-23)
Gray and McClure, Scaling: Innovation’s Missing Middle
A paper outlining key early thinking on innovation scaling in the humanitarian system
Gray and McClure, Engineering Scale Up
A follow-up paper outlining key early thinking on innovation scaling in the humanitarian system
GAHI, Untangling the Many Paths to Scale
A useful framework that identifies four critical areas to consider when attempting to scale: the value of your solution, the difficulty of scaling it, variability across contexts, and sustainability