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Beating the innovation scaling blues...

Another innovation song....

Last week I was helping run a series of workshops supporting social innovators from across the United Nations system in thinking through how they were going to scale their great innovations now that they had successfully piloted them and proved their value. 

Scaling innovation isn’t easy but it’s increasingly important if we’re to have real impact with our ideas. It’s got a lot in common with mountain climbing — a visible goal but a long journey through very uncertain conditions to get there. It needs a strategic approach, a clear idea of the pathway to the summit which we’ll follow and plenty of preparation and pivoting to help us get there. 

In particular we should pay attention to three key questions:

· Have we got a solution which is ‘scale ready’? Is our innovation stress-tested to make sure it is replicable, adoptable, ‘rights ready’ and otherwise configured to be scaled in different contexts?

· Have we got an organization in place which can build on our strong innovation team but also grow to meet the very different demands of scaling? Do we have the right structures to help us retain fast, flexible and inclusive decision-making? Have we got cash flow models which support us on the journey, balancing new sources of revenue and reducing our costs?

· Have we got a value network of ‘complementary assets’ — the ‘who else?’ and ‘what else?’ that we need to bring our innovation to scale? Can we find relevant partners, form them into an ecosystem and then align their varying interests to get that whole to perform, delivering more than the sum of its parts?

One way of helping the participants in our programme to think about and reflect on these challenges was to create a short song with the highlights embedded in the lyrics. So in the spirit of helping reinforce the learning I thought it would be worth sharing — you can find it here….

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