Nerd alert! We loved reading the latest from the Scaling Pathways series – Leveraging Government Partnerships for Scaled Impact. USAID, Skoll, Mercy Corps and CASE interviewed over 100 social enterprises to summarize lessons learned for social entrepreneurs scaling with government partners. Here are a few of their takeaways!
“• Determine whether to “Build First” or “Build Together.” When determining whether to develop and prove a model alone or to build together with government, enterprises considered their partnership goal and need for ownership, and typically ended up customizing a solution between the two extremes.
• Determine type and level of evidence needed. Enterprises went beyond impact evidence and recognized that evidence needs may become more complex in later stages or in donor-dependent countries.
• Find and cultivate the right champions. Interviewees leveraged organizations already working in-country, sought contacts interested in iteration, institutionalized relationships through MOUs and contracts, and found ways to decrease the physical distance between champions and solutions.
• Demonstrate true partnership with listening, humility, and respect. It may seem obvious, but according to interviewees, it is worth repeating: approach government with respect and humility, communicate regularly, and show how you are responding to feedback with change.
• Proactively manage—or avoid—politics. Enterprises spread out risk by engaging across political ideologies, working with technical experts, managing multiple projects simultaneously, and being wary of promises made around elections.
• Help maintain quality of impact over time. To ensure continued quality of programs (especially when government takes over implementation), enterprises recommended the following: breaking solutions into small steps; creating roadmaps while still empowering partners to adapt; using test sites to iterate; creating monitoring tools; and seeking sustainable funding sources.”
We think this is great advice for all teams looking to scale innovation with governments! Understanding the type and level of evidence needed (especially when it comes to costs) and helping maintain quality as the government takes over are crucial areas that we see overlooked all the time.
It’s great to see UNDP’s Innovation Facility focus on scale! We were particularly excited to read UNDP’s Administrator Achim Steiner emphasize scale in his list of critical points to ensure that innovation goes beyond “gadgets” and gizmos”
” Design for growth and scale: Scaling entails growth strategies to reach millions; but we also need scale-down strategies to ensure no one is left behind and adaptation strategies to transfer solutions from one context to another. Most contexts require a financial sustainability vision and an initial vision for a pathway to scale. These elements need to be incorporated from the beginning of every intervention, project and policy design. This means also investing in understanding the political settlements and power dynamics and identifying the actors that can help change the status quo.
Prove the comparative advantage of innovation: The hype cycle of innovation has peaked in most industries. Initiatives that are designed for outputs, rather than outcomes are still dominating innovation news updates from a number of organizations. But overall the sector is maturing and with it,the ambition and metrics to measure the impact of innovation. In the context of human development and social change, innovation must not happen for innovation’s sake but rather to find more effective ways of working. Innovation means foremost testing hypothesis with solid monitoring frameworks and a focus on inclusivity.”
View story at Medium.com
View story at Medium.com
View story at Medium.com
Scaling checklists are a trendy tool…luckily, they’re also pretty useful! A number of organizations and programs have them, how do you find or develop right one for you? (Want to check out SxD’s? Click here)
In their blog series on scaling social impact, Apolitical calls out a few key elements you should always include:
- “Strive to understand the essential core of a program: not whether something works, but why it works, what conditions it requires, what can be trimmed and what cannot be compromised
- Imagine what it would look like at scale: to reach many more people, how big and complex would the organisation need to become; who would staff it, and who would pay for it
- Consider the minimum threshold of quality a program needs, and what level of control is necessary to ensure it”
Check out the full post below and join the Apolitical platform here: https://apolitical.co/
Scaling social impact – a checklist, and a warning
In order scale, your solution must be simple. But the world we live in is not simple, it’s complex. Development sector practitioners strive to design holistic interventions and models that address the real-world needs of program participants. How do we address this tension?
In their series on scaling social impact, Apolitical captured this fantastic analogy from Karen Levy, Director of Global Innovation at Evidence Action:
” There is a tendency in the development industry to try and approach problems from a holistic perspective. But when you talk that way, it becomes very hard to find an entry point. Yes, everything is connected; yes, everything is complicated — but if you let that be the framework through which you start, you won’t get anywhere.
That’s why the world is scattered with pilot projects. Lovely pilot projects that are trying to deal with holistic issues, but are never going to get beyond 50 schools or 50 villages. If you look at the things that have achieved massive scale, they are well-defined interventions — or at least started that way.
I always tell people: don’t try and paint the masterpiece — do one layer, and do it well, then do another on top of that. Just creating or strengthening a platform to deliver something simply but well gives you the opportunity to build other stuff on top of it.”
Check out the rest of the interview here:
“The world is scattered with pilot projects trying to work holistically”
We’re big fans of Apolitical’s blog series on scaling social impact! One of the hidden but crucial concepts the series surfaces is understanding what is core, or “fixed” and a non-negotiable element of your innovation:
“For one, it’s not always clear whether or how something is working. Impact evaluation is growing, but billions of dollars of policy expenditure remain inadequately unevaluated. And, even when impact is proven, it’s not always clear what exactly is responsible. Scaling up often requires paring down a program to its essentials — and for this you need to know what can and cannot be compromised.”
In Scale X Design, we emphasize learning and documenting “fixed” vs. “flexible” elements of your model. That’s the easy part. The tough part is testing, learning and iterating and managing this knowledge across loosely connected practitioners.
Read more here:
How to scale up social impact — the challenge of the 21st century
The Scale X Design Challenge countdown has kicked into high gear for us at the Accelerator! While we are coordinating with participant teams from across the globe, making the logistical plans to get them to the event and nurturing the very best in development innovation, we also have some fantastic corporate sponsors providing financial support to make the Scale X Design Challenge truly a can’t miss event.
The Scale X Design Challenge is a way for our teams to show off all of the hard work and significant progress they have made in areas of development need. This is an opportunity to get unprecedented visibility for their work that they could not achieve in their home region. We have teams flying in from India, Ethiopia, the Balkans, and beyond to work with their peers in interactive workshops that will elevate their skills. Events surrounding the Challenge give teams the chance to connect to potential donors, business and specialized mentors, and global partners that will enable them to multiply their impact. The Scale X Design Challenge’s corporate sponsors gain high profile promotion and advertising during and surrounding the Challenge and ensure a lasting impact through all 15 of our participating teams.
Would you or your company like to join the likes of Delta in supporting the next group of change makers in their quest for scale? Check out our sponsorship brochure below for all of the perks and make sure to RSVP to the Scale X Design Challenge!