Skip to content
The Innovation Process
Activity 6.2 A

Envision your endgame

The resource in this activity will help you envisage what your innovation and your organisation will look like when you have achieved scale, so you can work backwards to develop your strategy.

As you start looking to scale your solution, envisioning your ‘endgame’ can help you anchor your planning activities to an idea of what your innovation and your organisation will look like when you have achieved scale.

The concept is explained best in an article by Gugelev and Stern for the Stanford Social Innovation Review (2015) in which they define the ‘endgame’ as “the specific role that an organization intends to play in confronting the total addressable challenge in a certain issue area.”

In other words, when you have reached scale, how will it have been achieved and what is your organisation’s role going to be? Defining this at the start of your journey to scale will help you in the decisions you will need to make regarding all aspects of your solution and how you build your organisation.

Gugelev and Stern identify six end-game options that are open to non-profit organisations which are paraphrased in the following table. Some of these are more amenable and appropriate for humanitarian solutions than others, but it is still a useful framework for considering different possibilities.



Open source Solution is free for others to adopt and integrate
Replication Solution is easy for other organisations to adopt and deliver
Government adoption Solution is integrated into government service delivery/provision
Commercial adoption Solution has commercial value and so could be delivered for profit
Mission achievement Solution has eradicated the problem, and does not need any organisation to continue to support/deliver it
Sustained service Solution is being delivered primarily by your own organisation

In a number of cases these endgames may not be mutually exclusive, but it is almost certain that there will be a dominant model. Endgames are also linked to your business model and your scale pathway with a number of business models and scale pathways possible under each of the six end-game options.

We recommend that you read Gugelev and Stern’s article and discuss in your team what (if any) of the options seem most appropriate, realistic and attractive. You should aim to reach agreement on which endgame is most likely to be achievable and deliver the most impact for people affected by crises, and on an appropriate timeframe for reaching that endgame. (Remember: for most innovations in the social sector it takes more than a decade to reach scale.)

If you completed the Recognition stage, it is worth referring to your initial Impact Goal to see what has or hasn’t changed along the way. Your endgame is not about how you create a solution to a problem, which is what your original impact goal was. It is about how you will deliver that solution at scale.