Thinking scale – some tips to think about

Many of the organisations that we work with ultimately aim to scale – but very few have a clear sense of how to do it. While at a detailed level there are lots of ways to think about and plan for scale, here are a few tips we think can help:

  1. Start by shifting your mindset – to really operate at scale one of the first shifts that needs to take place is in the way that organisations think about what they do, and how they do it. Real scale asks how do we get the essence of our intervention to a critical mass of people so that we achieve a tipping point. This means going back to the basics and designing specifically for scale, not just replicating a small-scale design a few times over.
  2. Get the brand right – a good brand can drive, reinforce, and support scale. Building the essence of a brand, ensuring that it is well-positioned, and communicating the message effectively, is crucial to building the momentum behind scale.
  3. Identify the mechanism of replication – the new trend for ‘social franchising’ is all about packaging an intervention in a way that is inherently replicable. The simpler, and more compelling, the ‘package’ is the easier and more likely it is to take off.
  4. Build a strong network of people – scale depends on building a fired up network of people that identify strongly with the brand, feel a sense of ownership, have a clear sense of what to do, and are supported by a sense of being ‘part of the club’ driving big change.

We’ve been working to build these principles into some of our flagship projects, such as the SmartStart social franchise aiming to reach 1 million 3-4 year olds through community-based playgroups. Check out their approach to scale on their website here: www.smartstart.org.za

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