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 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?
” 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.”
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.”
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.
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?
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.
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!