Scaling checklists – do you have the right one?

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:

  1. “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
  2. 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
  3. Consider the minimum threshold of quality a program needs, and what level of control is necessary to ensure it”

Check out the full post here:

Scaling social impact – a checklist, and a warning

Why keep it simple in a complex world?

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”

What We’re Reading: Scaling Up Excellence

Another book that helped us think about design question #3 – “What is the optimal fidelity for scale?” – is Scaling Up Excellence, by Robert I. Sutton and Huggy Rao.

“The first major business book devoted to this universal and vexing challenge” – Amazon

The authors walk us through decades of case studies on how various companies and initiatives found the right place on the continuum of customization versus replication as they scaled.

Continuum

 

My favorite part? This little bit of wisdom:

“Organizations that scale well are filled with people who talk and act as if they are in the middle of a manageable mess.”

The wall of crazy is slowly taking over

Well hey… if office space is a reflection of this sentiment, then maybe the Accelerator is well on its way!

messy office
What exactly were we thinking?

What We’re Learning: What do legos have to do with scaling solutions?

In our Design for Scale lab, design question #3 asks us: “What’s our optimal fidelity for scale?”

What is fidelity? Very simply, it’s the degree of exactness with which something is copied and reproduced.

Why is it important?

Well, in some fields it’s both easy and critical that that the fidelity of an intervention is high. For example, when you’re sick and you take a pill you’re taking the same pill that others who share your diagnosis will take. The dose, timing and other instructions that you receive must be followed in order to get positive results.

Designing an intervention that should be replicated with high fidelity is both necessary and relatively straightforward for many fields. What about development? As we scale, we know that we can’t simply take our exact model and apply it to new geographies, new demographics and new sectors. We know that it won’t work if we don’t adapt.

Conversely, adapt too much or let the model be watered down and we may not be able to get them same positive impact we did in our pilot or the early stages of our programs.

David Butler, VP for Innovation at Coca-Cola, helps one of the world’s largest companies design for scale using a simple framework of determining what elements are “fixed” and which are “flexible.”

Design to Grow: How Coca-Cola Learned to Combine Scale and Agility (and How You Can Too)

 

To break it down for us, he uses the analogy of lego bricks. The whole video is great, but for the part on legos start at the 8 minute, 30 second mark and end at 13 minutes, 50 seconds.

What we’re learning – How do we prototype what CARE does best?

*Reposted with updated links*

If you were able to watch our introduction video, you know that one of our hypotheses for why it takes the development sector a long time to scale is that we’re often using our project cycles to test new adaptations of our innovations.  When we launch a “pilot,” that can mean waiting for two-three years to get feedback and course correct at the midterm evaluation.

While we might need to wait until the midterm to start getting hard data on impact, we don’t need to wait several years to get valuable feedback.   Why design and launch a full solution, when you can run rapid tests on prototypes first?

prototype
[Photo credit: GRID Impact. Designers from Grameen Foundation test paper prototypes in Uganda]
So in our human-centered design lab, we’re thinking about how to prototype versus pilot and how this can give us just one new tool to move faster.

Graph2

GRID explains how all this works in one fantastic graph

One aspect that is taking us some time to get our heads around – how do you prototype anything that’s not a product, such as services or systems?  It’s still early days for applying HCD to international development, but here are some examples we love!

Sanitation: GRID Impact started off our lab with a deep dive into how they applied HCD and prototyping to increase the use of sanitation facilities (GRID +  Sanergy  +  DIFD  + Populist)

Family planning: The “Divine Divas” –  Prototyping a pop nail salon experience, peer-to-peer learning and service delivery for sexual and reproductive health services for adolescent girls in Zambia (Marie Stopes International + Ideo + The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation)

Prototyping nail salon experiences with teens. Read more at: http://stories.hewlett.org/designs_for_a_better_world Photo credit: IDEO

Governance and accountability: Making All Voices Count, an organization that works on issues of governance and accountability by enabling citizen engagement,  used human-centered design for the development of their stakeholder engagement strategy.  Their prototyping process included creating 12 “user archetypes” and using story-boarding and role playing to prototype potential ways to engage citizens.

Agriculture:  Juhudi Kilimo was interested in providing farmers with more in-depth technical training and assistance, so they prototyped both training videos utilizing actual farmers telling their stories and a mobile helpline (Juhudi Kilimo + Ideo)

Photo Credit: IDEO.org Read all about it here: http://www.wassermanfoundation.org/news/designing-better-training-for-farmers/

Health Systems: The Backpack Plus project used the physical object of a backpack as a starting point for designing systems to support and empower community health workers. (USAID + Frog  + UNICEF + MDG Health Alliance + Save the Children)

http://www.unicefstories.org/model/chwbackpackplus/
Photo Credit: UNICEF Read more at: http://www.unicefstories.org/model/chwbackpackplus/